Article creator image

BY Carol Fishman Cohen via Ellevate Network

What To Do If You're Thinking of Taking a Career Break

considering a career break

Photo credit: Ellevate Network

TAGS:Career break, Career advice, Resigning, Career goals

“Eighty-four percent [of millennials] foresee significant breaks along the way” when considering their long term career paths, according to a recent report by Manpower Group.

While a career break may be the furthest thing from your mind, there are expected and unexpected reasons why you may end up taking one: childcare, eldercare, an illness or that of a loved one, infertility issues, a wish to travel or pursuing a personal interest.

Happily, since you are early in your career, you are uniquely positioned to boost your chances for a smoother return to work after a future career break if you take these five key steps now:

1) Document your Experiences and Accomplishments.

Create a file and whenever you hit a work milestone, achieve something significant, learn an important lesson or simply have an interesting experience, write it down. Include anything noteworthy – negative or positive. Years later, when prepping for interviews, these recollections will provide you with the specific anecdotes and knowledge base from your prior work and volunteer experiences to impress a prospective new employer. You will be very happy you have this file!

2) Keep in Touch with Your Network; Nurture Those Relationships.

It’s no secret that you can benefit from strengthening your relationships with your boss and peers, but don’t leave it to chance. Find ways to actively interact with them so you stand out in their minds once you’ve left for a career break. Ask a senior person to walk you through his or her career path. Share an article about your company or industry with your peers and ask what they think about it. Think about how to make yourself even more connected to them than you would be from just doing your job. And don’t limit your efforts to co-workers in your office. Maintain your connections to customers, clients, co-workers from prior employers and anyone else who might someday be in a position to help when you’re ready to return to work.

3) Don’t Forget the Junior People.

The younger people in your office who you informally mentor, who report to you or who you just know from working together can be your most helpful contacts when returning to work. While you’re on career break, these junior people will continue to move up the ladder and someday may be in a position to open a door for you. And they’ll remember you as someone knowledgeable, important and to whom they looked up! We are seeing more cases of “relaunchers” coming back to work for the very people who used to work for them (it happened to me!).

4) Make Your Mark; Know When to Quit.

Early in your career is the time to test-drive a range of industries and roles because the opportunity costs of switching positions are lowest. At the same time, it is important to begin making your mark and strategizing to advance your career. All this can be tricky territory for Millennials, especially those contemplating a possible career break at some future date. While there is no single formula for navigating among these objectives, the best advice is simply to do your best work. Then, when you get closer to seriously contemplating a career break, try to leave at the top of your game. The people around you will keep this most positive view of you “frozen in time” and will remember you at your best, even if you don’t return for years.

5) Explore All Your Options.

Employers today are more open to non-traditional hours and remote work than ever before. So, if you’d like to defer your career break, and small changes in your work schedule would make that possible, then just ask. If you have “paid your dues” by establishing yourself as a high performer, your employer may be more than happy to make the accommodations you need.

If a career break is in your future, or even if you think it might be, review these steps and start implementing them now. You will be glad you did.

--

Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO of career reentry firm iRelaunch, consults to some of the world's largest corporations on career reentry strategy and programming. She relaunched her career at Bain Capital after an 11-year career break before co-founding iRelaunch. Her recently posted TED talk "How to get back to work after a career break" has been viewed over one million times and translated into 16 languages. A version of article was originally published by Ellevate Network.

Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women. 
Join us by reviewing your employer!

You May Also Like

Related Community Discussions

  • I'm a recruiter for the largest staffing and recruiting firm in the country. I'm seeing a lot of people on this thread who are extremely stressed out about finding work, and I think you guys need to start seriously considering working with recruiters to find jobs. NOT ALL RECRUITERS ARE EQUAL! I work for Aerotek, where we value your goals, skills, and interests and we find you a "perfect fit": the job that actually utilizes your experience and abilities. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me if you are looking for work in the Portland, OR metro area. I can be reached via this thread, and, if you're seriously interested, please let me know and I will share my email.

  • I'm at a relatively senior level in my career, and I'm getting married. I'd like to change my name...but I'm concerned about how it could affect my "brand." First of all, people inside my company and out already know me by my maiden name...But also, will it affect my career prospects and make it seem like I am too focused on marriage?

  • Hi. I have been an Executive Assistant, or some other assistant/operations person for over 30 years. After losing my job of many years due to restructuring, I am looking for a permanent position. I feel as though assistant positions are on the way out, given anecdotal evidence by other assistants as well as executives I've spoken to. Please note that I am in pursuit of my bachelor's, but it is not yet completed. Apparently 30 years of experience doesn't mean anything if I don't have a degree. I've been told that it is recognized that I am intelligent and eager to learn pretty much anything (as well as easy to work with) so do not pigeon-hole myself into going after assistant roles, but I don't know what else I should look into or other keywords to use when searching for positions. Does anyone have any guidance on what kinds of jobs are out there?

  • I am seeking a part time Interior Design position but almost impossible to find unless it is full time. I am even willing to become a receptionist at a furniture store just to get my foot in the door.
    Does anyone have any suggestions?

  • Any advice regarding age bias? There is a lot of information about diversity and inclusion but not about age discrimination. I'm actually looking for new opportunity and I have the theory that the reason I have been rejected is age. PS I have doctorate degree and over 20 years of experience.

Find Out

What are women saying about your company?

Click Here

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share with Friends
  • Share Anonymously