Closing that Career Gap: How to successfully re-enter the job market after a long absence

You may have been injured. You may have needed to just take a break. Or you may be caring for a family member, or giving birth. Whatever the reason, returning to work after a career break can be daunting. But with preparedness, positivity and a little attitude you can make it a winning move.

With Covid creating worker shortages worldwide, many people are returning to work after long absences.

Going on the job hunt and getting back into work-mode after a long absence can be challenging. However, if you take the time to properly prepare yourself, both psychologically and physically, then it can be a smooth road to success.

Mental preparation is critical after a long career gap

The first step on the long road back to work starts with a properly structured mental approach and a well thought out plan. To achieve both you need to ask yourself 10 important questions. And answer them too.

  • Why am I going back to work?
  • Do I want to work full-time or part-time?
  • Do I need a job or would I like to start my own business?
  • What are my true skills, passions, training, and experience?
  • Who would I like to work for?
  • Where would I like my workplace to be?
  • What do I definitely not want to do for work?
  • How much money do I need to earn?
  • Would I like to work for my previous employer?
  • What do I have to offer?

If you can answer each of these questions you will have a focus and an action plan straight away. So you can concentrate on applying for positions you really want, in a work environment you’ll really enjoy.

Then you can start to knit together, in your mind, all the little pieces that will contribute decisively to the making of a confident new you – outgoing, focussed, determined – and a real go-getter.

For example:

Develop your elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is a brief speech you can give to anyone about your work experience and desire to get back into the workforce, including hiring managers and members of your network. It should include a short synopsis of your work experience, the skills and attributes that make you a unique candidate; anything that will help another person envision you in a position.

Practice it until it feels natural and comes across as confident and conversational to someone else. You should also practice with a trusted friend for constructive feedback.

Take refresher courses

If you feel your skills are outdated, consider a refresher course so you can feel more confident in your abilities and can speak about your knowledge on your resume and during an interview. Attending a course will also help to get you back into work mode.

Prepare for your interview

Spend time practicing for upcoming interviews. Have a family member or friend hold a mock interview with you so they can assess your strengths and weaknesses. Practice until you feel ‘at home’ and project confidence in your answers so the hiring manager will feel confident about you as a viable candidate for the role.

Explain your career break

Practice answering questions about your absence. When developing your answer, remember to share what you did during your career break and explain why you made that choice.

While you don’t have to give personal details, make sure to address the reason for your break and how you continued to develop personally or professionally. This shows interviewers that you stayed engaged or up-to-date on your industry despite the lack of formal employment.

Expand your network

Identify opportunities to expand your network through joining professional associations, attending networking events and going to industry-specific conferences where you can learn something new, or meet others with similar interests.

Even if you’ve been out of work for a while, you probably also still have a network of people who you can inform about your decision to re-enter the workforce. That next job opportunity could come from anywhere.

Revamp Your Resume

Update and freshen your resume, references, and cover letter to make sure you stand out.

If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, remember to add any accomplishments that may boost your credibility such as volunteer experience, community involvement, personal blogging, or coaching your child’s sporting team etc.

Familiarize yourself with current trends in your industry

If you plan on returning to the same industry, spend time researching companies, your industry and the variety of job opportunities and salary ranges available. While this can help you find opportunities you’re interested in, it may also lead you to another industry with greater opportunities.

All of these activities will not only make you job-ready after a long absence, they will also build your confidence and imbue you with a can-do attitude that’s in tune with today’s work culture.


If you need help re-entering the workforce why not contact CXC Global? CXC are specialists in workforce management and talent acquisition throughout Asia, with a proven track record in matching job seekers with their dream job by leveraging their technical experience and skills, learning potential and personal values.