In the past, taking time out from your career was seen as a career derailer; however, it can be an asset with some planning and focus. There are many reasons people take a career break, whether it be raising a child, caring for an elderly parent, recovering from illness or needing space after an intensive work project. Whatever the reason, it’s a perfect time to reassess your career, take stock, and decide what you need to shift or change to step ahead. Pick your speed When it comes to your ca
s to your career, doing it well doesn’t mean there is only one way or one path to follow. It’s about being proactive and deliberate about your choices so you can lead your career in the direction you want it to go. Each person’s circumstances are unique, so be clear on what matters the most to you and identify what drives your career. For some, it’s having a fully flexible job – where they can work where they want and when they want. For others, it’s working part-time and still maintaining their professional occupation. For others, it’s about learning and challenge, leaving a legacy or career advancement. Ask yourself: What matters the most to me? When have I been the most motivated? What drives my career? For example, is it status, financial security, learning, being challenged, service, being valued or something else? Know your value proposition Everyone brings specific skills and ways of operating to the work they do. Think of it as your unique selling proposition – that is, what makes you stand out from the crowd. It includes the value you deliver through your work and how you engage and lead. When you step back into your profession, you must explain how your value matches your desired role. It is easier to do this when you play to your strengths. These strengths are the skills and competencies that help you stand out. You will use these strengths as a launching pad to get back into the market, highlighting them in your LinkedIn profile and CV and talking with your network, recruiters, and prospective employers. Ask yourself: What are my strengths, and how have they helped my career? What’s my unique about what I do and how I work? How can I best articulate my value and worth? Find your advocates Various reports suggest that between 60 and 80% of jobs available are unadvertised or sourced through a contact. Consequently, your network is crucial in helping you land your next role. Systematically review your network and consider those whom you believe are strong advocates. These people know what you do, respect your skills and are willing to speak for you. Make the time to meet with them and discuss your desired next steps. This conversation isn’t about hitting them up for a job. Instead, it’s getting their advice about how the market has moved and seeing if they know people you should connect with. Ask yourself: Who in my network knows my strengths and values well? How can my network support my career step? Who don’t I know that I need to know to help support my next career move? Assess your learning edge During your time out of the profession, it’s likely that aspects of the work have changed. Talk to former colleagues and find out what’s stayed the same and shifted. You may need to take short courses to upskill and build out your capabilities and competencies. Remember, the quest for knowledge and understanding never ends, particularly in a world of increasing connectedness and complexity. Ask yourself: How has my profession changed, and what new skills are required? What are the best options for uplifting my skills? How much time, money, and energy am I willing to devote to this? Make each day matter Be deliberate as to how you spend your day. You want to prioritise and plan, so you are making regular and sustained progress. It can help to document your plan. Consider it your ‘Career Reinvention Plan”, which covers the activities you need to undertake to get your career on track, with dates and any resources you need. You can then use your plan to track your progress. As you build your plan and implement your approach to get back in the game, you will have good and not-so-good days. It’s essential, therefore, to manage your energy wisely. So, in your schedule, set aside time for you. For example, consider activities that are good for you and revitalise your body and soul. This may include, for example, a weekly massage, listening to music or a daily run. Put this in your schedule and commit to it. When you are busy, it can be hard to prioritise yourself. However, your body needs time to rejuvenate, and you want to be ready to put your best self forward. Ask yourself: How will I best balance developing my career and health and well-being? What self-care activities do I need to prioritise? What new habits do I need to establish to ensure I put my best self forward each day?