Do not despise this day of small beginnings and the transferrable skills you are learning right here, right now. There are so many background circumstances to taking a career break. Redundancy, illness, parenthood… Whilst returning can be daunting, it is worth asking yourself what professional skills you actually are refining?
The Skills that I Picked Up on Career Break
This was my reality: December 2012; The front door was open on a drafty, Siberian-themed afternoon in December whilst painters varnished the stairs. The cleaner was probably here because any spare cash I had at that time was blown on her. There was a carpenter fitting shelves downstairs, I had to run an errand to Mum’s. I was the MD of festivities (twenty people at our house for the 25th). My husband wasn’t enjoying work. I needed to wind him up and send him out with three cheers each day, then go to the supermarket.
Managing Competing Priorities
Did I look like an MD? Well, possibly not in that moment in my Nike bottoms, I grant you. But add two yappy toddlers leaving a trail of fruit puree on the floor, grizzling with noses streaming. Incessant traffic noise and an open front door (your maternal instinct screaming at you to slam it shut and keep the brood safe). Tradesmen asking you 6 million questions. Vacuum cleaner roaring, Amazon shopping exuding its pernicious allure. I was a veritable whirling dervish of productivity. It felt good.
Commercial Skills Developed on Career Break
There was so much going on and in that moment, I realised as I juggled it all that I was pretty flipping good under pressure. Not to mention organised, well able to handle competing priorities. Confident to nail a to-do list, not get distracted and make strategic decisions despite the stockpile of distractions. I had razor-sharp focus. I remember my Mum watching me on such a day from her perch on the sofa. This comment started my job search. “I think it’s time you went back out and got a job”.
Let me give you the permission that my mother gave me in that moment to take those transferrable skills back out to work!
Most importantly, you are allowed to go back out there. Robert Walters, the recruitment firm wrote a white paper on why women returners are marketable.They describe the “valuable skills” developed “away from the workplace” in “volunteering, passing higher education, freelancing, working in another field pro-bono, bringing “unique perspectives”
Think About The Transferrable Skills You’ve Stockpiled in Your Time Out
Moreover, IT skills (especially social media), Interpersonal (from local associations, sports or mentoring), organisational (school committees, planning events), business development (startups, charity work) are sought after. Volunteering (The app Gro adapts volunteering skills for your CV! Problem solving! Stakeholder management! Negotiation! Make sure you link these back to the requirements of the role you are looking for to get maximum impact.
Please do have a read of this to give you some killer interview prep.. or even just to realise how precious you are out there in the marketplace. The truth is you have learned life skills that are useful in any industry and they will be so invaluable. You’re probably MD material!
Finally, don’t apologise for taking a career break. It’s not necessary..(you will) add value with fresh thinking and a mature perspective. Robert Walters advise interviewing managers in their report: “problem solving or other skills may not necessarily come from a professional environment”. You are part of a “diverse talent pool” that is becoming more attractive to employers. You will have so many more transferrable skills with a commercial worth from your career break than you realise.