Going back to work after taking time off, for whatever reason, can often be daunting. Making the transition to your old professional self, which has been on hold for so long, can make anyone feel like an impostor. If you’re in a situation where you have to find a job first, then it’s even more difficult as the inevitable worry of how to explain the long break surfaces. Whatever the circumstances surrounding your absence from work, there are some steps you can take to make the transition easier. Below we have created some helpful points to consider before returning to work.
Reconnect with Your Professional Self
Working, even part time, usually comes with a routine but taking a break from this can mean slipping into late nights and even later wake up times. Start by building up a routine again, rising at the same time every day and getting dressed in comfortable but smart clothing. If you need to find a job then treat this as your main activity, dedicate morning hours, broken up with a lunch hour, before completing the search in the afternoon. Update you CV and take a look at your LinkedIn profile, ensuring that it’s looking good. Reconnecting with some former colleagues is also a good idea whether you’re searching for employment or getting ready to make a return to work. You’ll ease yourself, get some helpful information and open yourself up to professional opportunities.
Once you’re back at work, it’s important to manage your manager’s and your own expectation regarding how fast you’ll be able to catch up. Ask for a meeting with your manager and have an honest conversation about what you need to get back into the swing of things. Doing so will ease a lot of the anxiety surrounding being at work and feeling out of the loop. Perhaps it may be useful for you to shadow a colleague, spending a week taking notes and acclimatising to the office. Don’t be afraid to be honest (though always professional), it will demonstrate good judgement and your ability to prioritise, coupled with a willingness to be a great employee.
Be Prepared to Explain Your Career Break
People are naturally curious; whether you’re returning to your previous office or joining a new one, be prepared to get a lot of questions about your break and previous jobs. You don’t have to disclose anything you’re not comfortable with – take a few moments to think of what you might reply with, so you’re not caught out without anything to say. It can even be a polite ‘I hope you’ll understand but I don’t feel comfortable discussing this’ alongside a smile and people will leave you alone. Otherwise, keep your answers brief to start until you establish more of a connection with your colleagues.
It’s natural to feel anxious about returning to work following a career break. Remember, there are multiple resources out there available to help you make the transition. One great place to visit if Randstad’s Returning to Work hub, featuring stories and advice from people who have done it before.