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Top Tips for returning to work after a career break

Considering a return to work? There is no time like the present to plan your future. Did you take some time off work for maternity leave, to care for family, due to Covid-19, or simply to recharge your batteries?

While you may be considering a return to work, the thought of returning after any period of time away can be daunting; a fear of being left behind sets in, impacting confidence thus making the idea of returning to work seem intimidating. However, such challenges can be overcome, and you can take control of your professional life once more by re-evaluating your career ambition and trajectory.

"You need to look at the positives of the situation," said Dr Daniel Rogers of Head of Education at Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace: "A career break gives you time away from your regular demands and routine to figure out what you really want to do with the next part of your life, a decision which can be difficult to make while fully engaged in a career."

Dr Daniel Rogers has the following tips for anyone in this situation:

1.Value the skills you have gained during your career break:

Addressing your career break, whether on your CV or during an interview, is about accentuating the positives. Don’t undervalue the skills and experiences you have acquired during your time away from the workplace, irrespective of your reason for taking a step back. Volunteering in the community or becoming a carer, for example, can foster valuable transferrable skills such as collaboration and leadership – favourable attributes which can help you become a well-rounded and empathetic professional.

2. Don’t give up:

The transition back to work may not be an easy one; you may face rejections and setbacks. Be patient, be persistent, and seek support where you can. Use your social networks, talk to friends, and let parents at the school gates know about your plan to return to work so that they can share any opportunities they hear of. Similarly, join like-minded communities on social media for peer support and to help ease back-to-work jitters.

3. Get clear on your values:

It’s important to think about who you are now and what’s important to you for this next this stage of your career. This will help guide your return to work and help you to feel confident in your new role. Sometimes the key to success is simply being your authentic self, and bringing all the additional skills, experiences, wisdom, and maturity that you have gained during your career break with you to your new role.

4. Be prepared to feel a rollercoaster of emotions as you return to work:

The initial excitement of securing a new position often gives way to exhaustion and imposter syndrome a few weeks in. This transition is totally normal and one many returners go through and successfully overcome. Remember, your first return-to-work job may just be a stepping-stone to get your foot back in the door. Once settled, a whole host of other opportunities may become available.

5. Set aside time to build on your knowledge:

The distance and perspective offered by a career break also affords you the opportunity to study and learn - effectively hitting the refresh button on your professional skills. Not only will this boost your confidence and allay any fears you may have, but potential employers will undoubtedly be impressed by your display of initiative and new work-ready skills.

At Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace, those wishing to return to work can embark on a level 9 Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Thinking, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, which primes participants for career satisfaction and success. Aimed at those who want to be job shapers and not seekers, this course equips individuals with the creative confidence and skills to translate ideas into innovative solutions. Exciting modules include Career Pathways and Returning to Work; Enterprise Development; and Opportunity Generation and Recognition.

A strong focus is placed on experiential and action-oriented learning on the programme, which is taught via a combination of seminars, interactive workshops, and project-based learning. Graduates will develop their creative potential, their critical and lateral thinking and an understanding of the societal and economic value that can be achieved by applying innovative approaches in business. What’s more, this course allows you to gain a qualification from Ireland’s oldest university.

Explore your career potential and find out more about Tangent’s Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Thinking, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, visit: https://www.tcd.ie/tangent/education/springboard/.