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Finding work after a career break

about 4 years ago

Finding work after a career break

​​Are you thinking about going back to work after a career break? Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

​It’s really not uncommon to take a career break at some point during your working life and there are many different reasons why. Caring for a friend or relative, relocating, tackling a renovation project, having sold a business, study or looking after children are just a few examples. According to the Office of National Statistics, in 2016 there were almost 2.5 million people not in employment because they were looking after family/the home.

​Julia says “I took a career break after 18 months of juggling full time work and being a Mum. I was lucky, I’d been mulling it over for a while and when voluntary redundancy became available, it was the final push I needed.”

​If/when the time’s right to find a job, you might feel like you’ll be seen as someone who’s ‘lost’ their skills or feel like your confidence has taken a hit. However, there’s a flip side. There’s a strong belief that people who’ve had a career break come armed with broader experience, often view work with renewed enthusiasm and are more efficient. If you’ve been looking after a child for example, there’s every chance that you’ve got multi-tasking, coping under pressure and dealing with emotions down to a fine art!

​There’s also the school of thinking that having a career break on your CV is an ultimate ‘no, no’, however it’s something our team sees all the time and we promise, it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb!

​Here’s some pointers if you’re thinking of returning to work.

Dust off your CV

​Dig it out and read it with a fresh pair of eyes. Make sure it includes the details of your last job and your reason for leaving (unless you’re super organised and did this the moment you left!). Sarah gives some tips in this video.

Be open about your career break

​It’s not ideal to have career gaps on your CV without any explanation. Be upfront – it’s not something to hide or be ashamed of! After all it’s highly likely the person reading it has either been there themselves, or knows someone who has.

Shout about new skills

​If you’ve had the opportunity to try new things during your break – chances are you’ve developed new skills too, so shout about them! It could be through voluntary work, a sport or hobby – or something entirely different.

Have a skills refresh

There are lots of free online resources if you feel like your skills need a refresh. It’s also a good talking point for interviews. Vision2Learn and OpenLearn are good places to start.


​If you have an account already – update it. If you haven’t got one, set one up. LinkedIn is also a good way of letting recruiters know privately that you’re looking for work. This tutorial shows you how.

Work out any practicalities

​If there are things that you cannot be flexible on such as the hours, journey time or salary for example – be clear on what they are before your start your job search. Equally be clear on the things that you can be flexible on. Do some research in to things like public transport and childcare options too.

Understand what's out there

​The job market changes all the time. Take a look at what’s being advertised to get a feel for the roles that are going to suit your skills and experience. A good recruitment agency will be happy to talk to you about what you can expect too.


​There are some companies who offer paid employment that’s specifically designed for those who want to return to the workplace. They’re more common in larger organisations however they’re growing in popularity – here’s a list of the companies who’ve offered them recently.

​Julia says “I absolutely loved getting back to the office. I got a job locally that meant no long commute and my daughter was absolutely made up to be joining her friends at after school club. Don’t get me wrong – I had nagging doubts that I’d ‘forgotten’ a lot but in no time at all I was back in to the swing of things. And enjoyed having a challenge outside of the home again!”

​“For me, being part of a supportive team is really important. Of course, I’m always juggling and I dread getting ‘that’ phone call from school however I’m no different to most people – with or without kids – most of us have commitments in one form or another.”

​“If you’re thinking of returning to work, I’d say ‘do it’. I don’t regret for a second taking a break from the office but now feel like I have the best of both worlds. It took a bit of time to find my new routine and I still mess up…taking my daughter to school on teacher training day, booking holiday when the schools weren’t actually off, frantically buying cake the morning of a cake sale…but hey, no-one’s perfect!”

​If you’re thinking of returning to work after a break, the Sarah West Recruitment team are on hand to support you every step of the way. We’re just a phone call or email away, if you need us, that makes finding your new dream job as stress free as possible.

Give the team a call on 01392 873813 for a chat, or send your CV to to get your job search underway!

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