A large number of professionals opt to take a break at some time in their career. The age group of 33 to 48 sees the most number of career breaks. The reasons for such are plenty and may also vary from industry to industry. Your break could be because of a job loss, birth of a child, family disputes, burnouts, health issues, travel or a plain & simple sabbatical. This kind of break has now become a norm in the professional world and is no longer frowned upon. There are companies in India, who understand the need for ‘time off from work’ and are in fact very enthusiastic about hiring such professionals. What is important is how to make the most of this career break and the best way to plan a comeback.
Parikshat Wadhwa, CEO – Cortaal Global shares a few tips that, if incorporated, could help in bridging that gap.
Make peace with the reason:
Firstly, you need to acknowledge the fact that you have taken a break. Do not be bitter about it. Whatever be the reason, making peace with or acknowledging the same can help you set things into perspective. Validating the situation goes a long way in keeping your frame of mind positive. At this point, it is also important NOT to compare with your peers. They have their own share of priorities and so do you.
Use this time productively: It is always a good idea to utilize the break to do something productive. This does not necessarily have to be from a professional point of view. It could be anything like learning a new skill, upgrading your current skills, travelling, getting back to a hobby, getting fitter etc. This helps you to stay away from self-deprecating thoughts. A well-rested mind is always more successful in bouncing back sooner.
Out of sight, out of mind:
In this fast paced world, being away for a few months / years may cut you out of the circuit. It is a tricky balance of keeping away from work and also being visible. However, do not lose touch with your social circle. It is advisable to be seen / heard on various social media platforms such as LinkedIn, professional blogs or other forums that are of your interest. The more visible you are, higher the recall value. It will keep you abreast with what is new in the industry, add to your network, as well as help you identify which areas of your experience are getting irrelevant in this rapidly changing professional world.
It is a very good idea to undergo an honest SWOT analysis. Doing so will not only give you an insight into your personality and assist you in recognizing training needs, if any, but also help you identify an alternate career. It could also give you a much needed ego boost to take the next step in getting back to a career.
Network, network, network:
Once you are mentally ready to get back into the job market, networking becomes even more important. Spreading the word around of your desire to get back to mainstream will most likely help you in landing that job. About …% of professionals are hired on the basis of a referral. So get out there and invest time in meeting junior and senior management people alike. You never know who will help you in landing that perfect job.
Re-do your CV:
You need to sit down and re-do your CV. Be honest about your career break. It is a good time to add any skill upgrades or learnings here. But remember – The shorter, the better. Most recruiters spend not more than 20 seconds on a CV at first glance. So make the most of it by keeping it short and relevant.
Meet Recruiters: They are the best people to help you find exactly what you are looking for. They usually have a good pulse on the talent market and could look out for you if they see you as a ‘blue blooded candidate’. Another benefit of meeting recruiters is that they can help you with Mock Interviews. Be open to the idea of making time to meet them in their office and doing a ‘dress rehearsal’. This will prepare you well and make you more confident to face an actual interview and easily sail through.
Start off on your own: This step has its share of risks associated with it. Not only does it require capital, but more importantly, a great idea. If you can think of the next unicorn idea, it is also worth giving it a shot. You shouldn’t regret not having taken the entrepreneurial plunge if you feel it in your bones that you can.
Freelance: This is an extension to the previous point. Not only does it give you the freedom to pursue your own priorities, but it also helps you slowly slide back to the corporate world. The gig economy is gaining traction in India and many websites can help you pick up specific projects.
You may have your reasons for taking a career break, but it is becoming easier to get back to work. The golden rule is to not rush back. Take this time to weigh in the pros and cons and be honest to yourself and the company that you get into. Remember, your past experience will always be recognized and the break, if handled well, will only add more value in the long run. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.