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Reframing your Career Break: Unearthing Value and Articulating Transferable Skills

Taking a career break, whether by choice or circumstance, often carries a complex mix of emotions and implications for professionals. While the reasons vary, including caring commitments, health reasons, relocation, redundancy and professional development to name but a few – returning to the workforce can feel daunting. However, what if we viewed a career break not as a gap in a CV but as a rich period of growth and learning? This post aims to help you reframe your career break by identifying its inherent value and learnings, and articulating your transferable skills in a way that resonates with potential employers.

Identifying the Value and Learnings

1. Personal Development: A career break often leads to significant personal development, including improved resilience, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. Reflect on how you’ve grown personally during this period and consider how these traits are valuable in a professional setting.

2. New Perspectives: Stepping away from the workforce can provide new insights into what you value in a career, your preferred work culture, and the type of work-life balance you seek. Your experiences on a career break may also help you to bring a different way of thinking and problem solving, which is hugely valued by teams.

3. Skills Acquisition: During a break, many individuals acquire new skills. Whether through exploring a hobby, formal education, volunteering or other employment, these experiences contribute to what you can offer a new employer.

Articulating Transferable Skills 

1. Communication: If your break involved coordinating activities for family, volunteer projects or other employment, you likely honed your communication skills. Employers value clear, concise communication, so this is a key skill to highlight.

2. Project Management: Organising any event such as leading a community project or planning a relocation can enhance your project management skills. Highlight how these experiences have taught you to manage time, resources, and expectations effectively.

3. Problem-solving: Life outside the traditional workforce is full of unexpected challenges requiring creative solutions. Reflect on moments when you had to think on your feet or navigate complex situations, demonstrating your problem-solving abilities.

4. Adaptability: Successfully managing a career break requires adaptability—a skill highly prized in today’s fast-paced work environment. Consider how adapting to new circumstances or learning new technologies during your break has prepared you for the dynamic nature of the workplace.

Making It Relevant to Your Role 

1. Tailor your CV: When preparing for your return, tailor your CV to the specific role. Mirror the language used in the job ad to describe your skills and experiences, making it easier for hiring managers to see the relevance.

2. List your transferable skills: Under your professional profile, list your key skills including your transferable skills developed during your career break as relevant to the role you’re going for now.

3. Confidence in your Career Break at Interview: When you land that interview, discuss your career break with confidence! Clearly articulate how your unique experiences have equipped you with a diverse skill set and a fresh perspective.

By reframing your career break as an opportunity for growth and learning and articulating your transferable skills effectively, you can make a compelling case for why you are not just a suitable candidate, but a valuable asset to any team.