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How to land the right job after a career break

14th October 2013

I've been working with several "career returners' recently: a wider variety of people than you might think, who for different reasons have all spent some time out of paid employment and are now trying to get jobs. The key need that they all seem to have is to build their confidence. 

The good news is that recruiters are more used now to seeing people with breaks in paid employment than perhaps a decade ago. You might have stopped work for a while due to redundancy, family caring responsibilities, mature studying, the urge to travel, the luxury of just stepping away from work for a while, volunteering to give something back to society or have been trying your hand at building a new business in a very tough climate. It is more common in today's labour market tor people to have a wider range of paid and unpaid employment. My mantra is that all such activities can demonstrate added value to your CV, the key is to identify what you have learned during your time away from paid work that could benefit a future employer. 

 Many parents talk about their very swift development of  prioritising, organising, negotiation skills and time management; all incidental benefits of taking on the toughest job in the world: parenthood. Recruiters looking for precisely that skill set will be impressed if you could specify on your CV achievements that you made under such headings. If you have displayed these skills in managing a family, or running fund raising activities or organising long range travel in foreign countries, then you have the potential to use those skills in my new vacancy. Outside of specific technical knowledge directly related to your target job, there are core skills that you have developed and sharpened in any number of situations, regardless of whether anyone was paying you to achieve a specific task. In the recruiting jargon, these sort of skills are called 'transferable', i. e. they transfer to any other working role.

So, grab a note book, whether electronic or paper, and start listing now, everything you have learned from scratch, or developed from 'beginner level' in activities other than paid employment. Next to each skill you list, write down what you achieved as a concrete result; making sure that 3 children of different ages reach school every day on time, is achievement enough. The results may not always be helpful to list on your CV, but that will give you confidence that when asked for an example of your ability to organise and plan, you have a recent, relevant and solid achievement to describe in interview. 

If you have demonstrated achievements in other aspects of your life, then you can repeat those achievements for my vacancy and will also impress me by your ability to analyse information effectively, another common transferable skill ticked off on my job description!  

There are more ideas to help you here in Chapters 2 and 3 of 'Nail That Job, the complete guide for the less-experienced jobseeker'. Do drop me an email to sian@nailthatjob.co.uk if you have any more questions about finding work after a career break and take pride in what you have achieved outside the world of paid employment.

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