Remembering to make the tea again – Returning to work after a career break

Remembering to make the tea again – Returning to work after a career breakI often like to put something in the title of these articles that remind me of how big decisions in our working lives often express themselves as small things. The one in this title about remembering to make the tea was something that was mentioned to me in passing by a mum who was returning to work.

Her little one had reached what she felt was an age where she was comfortable to go back to work on a part-time basis after she had chosen to take some ‘being a mum’ time out from her career. I asked if returning to work was a different experience after being a mum, and she replied that it was, because you had to adapt to there being other adults around and remember when it was your turn to make the tea. It was a brilliantly simple example of the fact that taking a career break means that when you return you need to settle back into having a working life.


People take a career break for a number of reasons

Taking a career break is a choice that many people make for a number of reasons. I suppose we naturally think of the main one as becoming a parent, because this, and other family based commitments are the most common factor. Others choose to travel, return to education or volunteer for extended charity projects, amongst other reasons.

Returning to work, though, can be hard. Whatever reason you had for taking your time out would have certainly changed your life and in some cases the way you think about your career and future goals. In short, what seemed like a good career and working life plan before your break may have changed.


Time to take stock

If you are considering a return to work after a career break, then perhaps it is time to take stock a little.

  • One common issue that arises is the employer not allowing you to return to work at all. Just to be clear, there is no legal right to return to work after a career break. Outside statutory rights such as maternity or sickness leave if you chose to take a career break you have no guarantee of being able to return.
  • It may be worth using our CV creator tool and doing a skills audit before you commit to returning. They will help you remember what you were all about in the workplace before your time out.
  • Are you still the same person? Taking a break can change you, and that choice you made was a life changing one. Your job is part of who you are, so it is important that you think about who you are now not who you were when you took the break.
  • Bring your CV and other documentation up to date so that it reflects your choice. A break in employment needs some explanation, or it can look a little strange in the work timeline.
  • Be prepared to take a slightly different role. It could be that the job you did isn’t available anymore so you probably need to be flexible in the roles you would consider.
  • Be as practical as possible about your situation. If you took a career break for family reasons, then are those reasons still going to impact on hours of work, for example? If you took time out to gain a qualification, is it enough on its own to get you the career you want or do you need to gain some experience? Does your time spent out of the workplace mean you are now a little bit out of the loop with new developments? It’s important that you are level-headed about your options.
  • Think about the hours, job role and career you want in the context of all the above points. If you find that your priorities have changed than now may be the time to consider your options.


We want to help

Finally, we want to help, so please do come to see us for a chat about your future. We have been helping people back into the world of work after career breaks for a long time, and we will have the experience to guide you and suggest options and possibilities that will help you successfully transition back to the right job role.


You will still need to remember to make the tea though.

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