Returning to work after a career break

There are several reasons people take a break from working, whether voluntary, involuntary and following maternity or childcare.

Getting back into work after a break is often exciting but can be difficult. Getting up on time, the daily commute and the responsibilities piling up can often be tough, however returning to work after a break for any reason plays a vital role in the quality of your life.

The change also has wider implications. According to research by PwC, getting people back into work after a career break could provide a £1.7 billion boost to our annual economic output.


How to make it happen

Remind yourself what you are good at and why you deserve a job – even ask friends and family for feedback on what you are good at and come up with a list. Write down at least five achievements and demonstrable skills.

Secondly, make sure your skills set is up to speed and that you are aware of the latest trends in your chosen field, you could do this by taking a course online or offline or simply reading some books/online articles as a refresher.

When you come to apply for jobs, you should be prepared to network, as you never know who might be able to help you (a good place to start is LinkedIn).

In your CV, be positive about what you want now, instead of going into too much detail about why you have had a break or coming across apologetic for it. Mention all relevant study and voluntary work and express a keen interest.

Whether you are planning on going into permanent or temporary work, temporary positions might initially be a good place to start as this kind of work fills your CV gap, builds your network and your confidence, and may even lead to a permanent role.

You can target applications for jobs that fit your strengths, and if it is a new field you are interested in, doing temporary work can enable you to figure out if you are heading in the right direction.


Only 17% of retirees think they’ll stop working after reaching retirement age. Nowadays, many people past the retirement age decide to go back into work after a break, even if it is in a completely unrelated field to what they did previously.

Some voluntary career breaks are due to the desire to travel. In this case, you could say that you have finished your soul searching and are now ready to commit. Maybe the time away confirmed which direction you want to take your career in.

If your voluntary time off was to undertake a new qualification, this should go a long way to persuading an employer you have a thirst for knowledge and will be of value to the company.



Experiencing redundancy can unfortunately be a common reason people are off work for a while. There were 110,000 redundancies in 2017, and this is talent that could be redeployed into work where there is demand.

There may be other reasons too, and whatever they may be, it is important to try and focus on the positives, even if you feel unenthusiastic about having had time off.

Explain how you overcame whatever situation caused you to take time off, and prove that you are talented and hard-working enough to drive their business forward and not just focus on the past.



The average maternity leave is 100 days: women are returning to work earlier than ever before after giving birth (PwC), however every single personal situation is unique.

Perhaps you have just had your first child, or have a couple of young children in Primary school, if you have decided to return to work after a break it can feel scary and many mothers find themselves lacking in confidence.

It is important to remember that some skills requested in a job description can be developed outside of a business, professional environment – and skills such as organisation, communication and negotiation, which are sharpened as a parent, are vital attributes in the workplace.


What can employers do to help the transition?

Returning to work can be daunting. Companies can help to make the transition easier through being welcoming, empathetic and understanding, and ensuring strong communication throughout the recruitment and on-boarding process.

Many companies may also make allowances for parents with flexible working, subsidised nurseries and job shares being just some of the ways they can make your work/life balance easier.


To find out how Integra People could help you back into work on a temporary, contract or permanent basis, please call the Head Office on 01925 838 600 to speak to one of our friendly consultants.

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