For those who have taken a break in their career - whether to raise children, travel the world, care for an aging parent, or anything in between - there’s no doubt that it can be intimidating to re-enter the workforce. But, there’s no need to panic. In fact, it matters less about having a gap in your career, and more about showing potential employers how the experience you gained before and during your break can make you an asset to their team.

Getting started can be one of the hardest things to do. So, take it one step at a time, and you’ll be chit chatting at the watercooler in no time. Here’s where we suggest you begin if you’re starting the job search after some time away:

1. Understand your intentions:Before updating your résumé or applying for a role, it’s important that you set aside some time to think about what’s important to you in a new career. Think about the 4 P’s: Position, Pay, Place and Path. 
  • Position: What kind of role would you like to pursue? Something similar to your previous experience, or is this a time for you to make the move you always dreamt of and try something completely new? 
  • Pay: What's your goal salary and why? Are there benefits of perks that would make you flexible on that number, like great health insurance? Having an idea of what matters to you will help evaluate total compensation more holistically. 
  • Place: Take the time to really think about where you want to work. Is it important that a potential employer offers flexible working conditions or that there’s a lot of opportunity to socialize with colleagues? Consider what environment will power you to do your best work. 
  • Path: What path are you hoping to follow once you return to work? Are you looking for something more temporary or do you want to rise through the ranks in a new role?
    Returners Infographic (1)-1

2. Explore your strengths:No matter how you spent your time away from the workforce, remember that you were practicing and developing new skills the entire time. Just think about those transferable skills such as communication, organization, project management. You should have a good idea of where your strengths and weaknesses lie and then you can match your skill set to a career or opportunity that you’re interested in pursuing. 

3. Clean up your résumé: Once you’ve figured out the kind of roles you’d like to apply for, and the type of company you’d like to work for, it’s time to clean up your résumé. Or, if you don’t have one, you can build a great one pretty easily. If you’re having trouble describing your time away from the workforce, don’t overthink it. For parents, the Pregnancy Pause is a free toolkit of templates that help current or former stay-at-home parents craft job descriptions around the work of raising a family.

4. Connect back with your network: If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, now’s the time to set one up. Make your intention to get back into the workforce known by writing a quick status update with your network and get active on LinkedIn. That means engaging with other people's content, and connecting with new people. LinkedIn is a recruiters playground, so being active and visible there will get you noticed by the right people. 

5. Nail your pitch: You’ve done the preparation, and now it’s time for you to nail your pitch. Read up on tips for nailing an interview which will help to confidently answer questions about your past experiences, your desires for the future, and your career gap. Don’t forget to identify and practice your unique value proposition. It’s the answer to that ever-so-vague ‘tell me about yourself’ question that is often asked in interviews. This should include a couple of sentences about your past experience that would impress a hiring manager or recruiter, (bonus points if you can include data or any numbers for context) and the qualities or skills that make you a good candidate for a role. Once you’ve crafted your pitch, keep practicing until you’re comfortable and confident.  

Returning to work should be an exciting time, not a stressful one. Look into companies that have set-up returnship programmes that will offer you extra support while you find your feet in the workplace. At HubSpot, our Returners Program acts as a stepping stone for those who have been out of the workforce for two or more years, and want to return to work. Returners take part in a 20-week program and are given comprehensive training and support to help them upskill and transition back to work in a meaningful way. 

As you begin your journey back into the workforce, keep these tips handy for different steps along the way!

Originally published Nov 26, 2019 9:38:44 AM, updated November 26 2019