10 tips for returning to work after a career break

The i-Relaunch Return-to-Work Conference in Stanford, California.

Are you considering a return to work? Whether it’s because our children are starting kindergarten (or leaving for college!), financial necessity or just the desire to dust off the resume to be among other working professionals, many of us think about a career re-entry at some point.


iRelaunch’s mission is to help professionals return to work with practical tips, advice and strategies. A few times a year, iRelaunch hosts its flagship Return To Work Conference and luckily this year, iRelaunch will be in Evanston June 17 at the Kellogg School of Management, at 2211 Campus Drive.


When a person embarks on their journey to return to work, many doubts and questions can be overwhelming enough to stall the whole process. If you’re ready to take the first step toward your return to work, here are iRelaunch’s top 10 tips to make that a reality.


1. Figure out exactly what you want to do.


A career break is a gift that allows you to reassess your goals and figure out if you want to return to the same job or consider a new direction. Are you a physician who always wanted to be a master gardener? A financial analyst whose dreams were to be a high school Spanish teacher? A top-level marketing professional whose daughter’s life-threatening allergy led her to pursue an MS/RD program in nutrition (all true stories!)?


A great free resource to help you might be your alma mater’s career services office. The iRelaunch Return to Work Roadmap is also a great resource. The Roadmap is included with your Conference registration. However iRelaunch is also offering the Roadmap for $49 to Chicago Parent readers (regularly $79).


2. Identify people who have your dream job and study their career paths and credentials.


Whether returning to the same career or a new one, use LinkedIn to find people who are doing the job you want to do. How did they get there? What jobs did they have before the one they are doing now? Are there any steps you can take to follow a similar path?


3. Decide whether you need to take any formal coursework.


Do you need to update skills or to signal to a potential employer how serious you are about returning? If so, the opportunities for coursework can range from LinkedIn Learning courses to graduate degrees. YouTube tutorials are a great (and free) way to brush up on professional skills as well.


4. Seek out relevant volunteer work …


… or paid contract or project work (or temp work!) to add recent and relevant experience on your resume.


5. Connect with “people from the past”


Set up or update your LinkedIn profile and start connecting with former colleagues. Let them know you are in “information-gathering mode.” Find out who the experts are in your field and start following them to update your sources of information.


6. Get ready for a confidence boost!


When you connect with people from your past, you’ll find that they will have a “frozen in time” view of you. They’ll talk about the days you worked together, experiences from school, etc. You’re going to feel great, giving you the boost you need to move forward.


7. Practice your elevator pitch out loud.


There’s no getting around it – feeling confident about your elevator pitch can only happen when you’ve practiced saying it out loud – lots of times!! Practice it with a friend, tape it on your phone, or just say it to yourself in the mirror.


8. Get out of the house.


Go to reunions, consider joining Toastmasters, attend university lecture series, speak to your friends and let them know you’re thinking about returning to work. You might think that “networking” doesn’t come easy for you, but you’ll be surprised at the professional contacts you can make (or already have) just by participating in enjoyable activities with others.


9. Lower your standards of domestic perfection.


This one doesn’t need an explanation.


10. Join a supportive group.


The friendships and community you enjoy now can easily extend to your professional goals. Visit the iRelaunch website and sign up for information and updates about returning to work. Engage with the supportive and helpful iRelaunch Return to Work Chicago private Facebook group to stay motivated, inspired and hopeful in the career relaunching process. Having another person or group you meet with regularly will keep you accountable and your relaunch moving forward.


Finally, consider joining iRelaunch in Evanston on June 17 at the Return to Work Conference and join the thousands of other relaunchers who have gained insights, contacts and jobs from attending their conferences over the past 10 years.


About iRelaunch

Visit irelaunch.com for more information.
Established in 2007, iRelaunch is the pioneering company in the career re-entry space. iRelaunch runs career re-entry conferences and events for employers and individuals returning to work after a career break, and also works directly with over 70 blue chip companies to introduce, implement and expand career re-entry programs to engage with and hire from the return to work talent pool. iRelaunch has built a global community of more than 70,000 individuals who are in all stages of relaunching careers.



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