Sabbaticals in the professional world aren’t as rare as one might assume. The reality of the concept isn’t fully understood until one has to take a break themselves. This break, which could last for a few months, years, or sometimes even decades, can be factored in many reasons. The most common one being motherhood; women often take a few years of sabbatical from their careers to raise their young ones. However, several other factors like a physical injury, higher education, burning-out or other personal issues often put the brakes on one’s career. Joining the workforce after a sabbatical is naturally a daunting and nerve-wracking experience. Whether the organisation is the same or not, the fact that passage of time would have brought many changes, both big and small, in the landscape makes the transition a bumpy and scary ride. We have listed some simple and effective tips to help you back into your job, one step at a time:
Before you even begin to prepare yourself to join back, you need to ask whether it is the same job you want to go back to, or explore other horizons? A break can provide perspectives, which can now help you make better decisions. Getting as much clarity as possible at this stage is essential, for it will make the process of joining back easier. Ask yourself, what is it that you loved about your previous job? Is there anything else you’d rather be doing?
Reach out to professional and personal contacts and let them know you are on the look-out for a job, for networking works in unusual and unexpected ways. Have well-founded reasons as to why you were on a break, and why have you decided to join back. Prepare these answers well, for they will be asked at every single interview you appear for. If you will be joining back your previous organisation, clarify the formalities and official procedure, and the details of the new job, for you to join back.
No matter the duration of your sabbatical, the buzzword for you is – UPDATE. Update your resume, update your career goals and most essentially update your skills and knowledge. Read up about the latest developments in the industry, and invest in learning new skills (or updating your skill set). Put yourself back in the shoes when you were looking for your first job – and had to focus on every detail to stay in tune with the latest trends.
Don’t get hung up on things like job titles, salary or office spaces by comparing yourself to your peers. A sabbatical means you will be a step behind your ex-colleagues, so don’t be hard on yourself or the organisation, and be flexible in accepting what is on offer. This however in no way means you agree to cheap labour, or consent to a job role that you are over-qualified for.
If you want to test waters before diving in, begin small by working part-time, or on project-basis. This will give you a chance to establish balance and ease the process of transitioning back to work. Many a times, a long break renders an individual unaccustomed to regular full day desk-job – find out if you are that person before you resume your role. This will particularly be helpful if you are joining a new domain altogether, for it will help you get a taste of what the work will really entail.
Be Honest and Dedicated
Being honest with yourself about what you want, and with the prospective organisation, about what you can offer, will prevent you from over-promising and under-delivering. Furthermore, you attempts to join back the workforce will by no means be rewarded in the first go. You will have to be dedicated and consistent in your efforts, and clearly communicate your expectations, and eventually, things will work out.
The road to joining back work after a break is by no means easy to traverse. However, introspection, planning and dedication – in that order – can help in simplifying the process. You might be set up for more than one disappointment, and doubting yourself, or your skill set will be rather frequent, but the goal is to keep you on track to successfully return to work, and with repeated efforts, you are bound to succeed.