Returning professional Sarvani Kondeti’s experience of getting back to the workforce included dealing with a relocation. In a chat with Returnize’s Nandita Bose, she recounts the trials and tribulations and how she overcame them.
Describe your career before the break.
I had a successful 10-year-long career in project management with multinational corporations.
How long was the break, and what was the reason for the break?
I took a break for one year. The reason was an international relocation. My family moved to the US from India. When I moved here, I assumed the move would open opportunities for me since I had varied experience internationally. It took me a few months to get used to the American way of life, acquire new skills, and settle in the USA.
How did you prepare for a career comeback?
During the break, I completed various certifications, attended professional conferences related to my industry, and did volunteer jobs.
What challenges did you face in finding a job at the time of returning to work?
Once I was ready to restart my career, I began to look for opportunities. However, I am not exaggerating when I say, I applied to over 300 jobs and received only seven interview calls. My resume was not reaching the hiring managers. With each passing week, I was getting more desperate as my gap was increasing and I was losing confidence.
What kind of networking efforts were needed?
One of the recruiters I talked to suggested that I network, meet people, make new professional friends, and use LinkedIn for my job search. Although I was hesitant initially, I quickly learned that I needed to meet more people. I was a member of the PMI (Project Management Institute), I attended their breakfast meetings, joined various Meetup groups, and met people. I reviewed my LinkedIn contacts and made a mental chart of people who could help me. I reached out to various people, and a former manager readily responded. In less than two weeks, he put forward an opportunity for me in Seattle. He picked a short assignment for me - 16 weeks - to kickstart my career in the US which allowed me to make contacts.
Did relocating help you in getting back to work?
Yes, relocation helped me get back on the career track, but it was not an easy decision. I was at a crossroads but it was time for me to prioritize and make a decision. After careful consideration of various factors, I concluded that restarting my career was of the highest priority. It was my moment and I wanted to confidently pursue it. Making a decision is one aspect and implementing it another, but I was undeterred.
What changes did you have to adapt to?
My move to Seattle impacted me both financially and emotionally. There were the expenses of a second household, commute, and frequent trips back and forth between Seattle and San Jose, besides the anxiety of a new assignment. I was handling the project all by myself, from planning to executing and closing. However, one advantage of being alone was that I could give 100% of my time and energy to my job. I learned new skills and built new relationships. Three months down, I was offered a full-time opportunity.
How did partnering with Returnize help in preparing you for returning to work?
During my networking phase, I attended various Meetups. I was overwhelmed that so many people were willing and taking the time to advise me, encourage me, and keep my spirits up.
I met the Returnize team at their ‘Return to Work’ meetup. I was thoroughly encouraged by them. I needed a platform, and like me, so many others need someone else to boost them. When I was at my tether’s end, Returnize painstakingly partnered with me by reviewing and modifying my resume, to attract recruiters. Resume creation is the first step and finding a job takes time.
Describe your current assignment.
My current assignment is an independent contractor role in the telecom industry. I am doing project management, but there is learning since the industry is new to me.
What advice would you give to other professionals returning to work?
To other professionals returning to work after a career break, I would say network with people, seek expert help, if required, but above all, don’t give up.