Making the decision to commit to any large life change requires preparation and a game plan. Deciding to return to work or switch career paths is a change that many people make in their lifetime, especially women after taking time off to start a family, have children, or care for loved ones. Luckily, this daunting season of life can be simplified if one keeps certain strategies in mind. 

The most obvious yet most important step in finding a job after a career break is to network. This can be as simple as telling friends and family you’re looking for a job, or as involved as reaching out to employees and companies on LinkedIn or attending networking events. A conversation with a neighbor who works in your field could end up taking you far. Or, use LinkedIn as a tool to connect with professionals that hold a position or work for a company you are interested in. Reach out to set up an informational meeting with them and discuss their role. When it’s difficult to get interviewed, sometimes it’s best to become the interviewer yourself. Asking the right questions and fostering good conversation can showcase your skills in a natural way. 

Adding to your resume will also increase your chances of landing an interview. One way to do this is through earning certifications or taking online courses. Online options to earn this experience are more widely available now due to the pandemic. Even if you haven’t been employed for 10 years, you can use these to show employers you have stayed interested in and updated on your career field. This is vital, especially in quickly-changing fields like IT. You can also refresh your resume by adapting it to a more modern or functional format, and always have a second set of eyes look it over before submitting it. 

Another option to boost your resume is joining a professional association in your field. Finding a local chapter can bring you new connections with professionals who can be references and mentors. These new relationships could also lead you to a job opportunity if you network well.  

Once you are offered an interview, you should prepare answers for some of the most common questions asked, such as what is your biggest weakness and where do you see yourself in five years. Say your answers out loud to yourself to get comfortable and ensure they have a smooth flow. Additionally, you can ask someone in your network to do a mock interview and give you feedback. Not only are you preparing for interviews with these tactics, you are growing your general confidence in sharing your thoughts in the workplace and practicing how to effectively communicate your ideas.  

Additionally, don’t be afraid to be honest with potential employers about your work hiatus. There is no need to share extremely personal details, but lying about your break in employment will not be beneficial in the long run. You can show that you are confident in your decision to leave, and confident in your decision to return. 

The vast tips and tricks for getting a new job after a career break can make your to-do list seem daunting. One strategy that can make your return-to-work experience more manageable is a returnship. Working with a program such as MARS Returnship will offer you job experience, new and relevant references in your field, education and inspiration. Most importantly, a returnship can provide a community of others returning to work and mentorship through the job search process. Connecting with those in the same stage of life as you can blossom into a great support system. Read more about the program here.

Returning to work this year could be the perfect fit for a changing lifestyle as the pandemic ebbs. Hone in on your natural talents and past work experience, no matter how long ago it was. Everyone has new talent to offer to a company – the key is to find a support system and structure that works best for you and your journey back to work.