Rejoining the workforce after a break

Rejoining the workforce after a break

Being out of work is hard. Getting back to work can be even harder. Not many people get out of work by choice. Some are made redundant because the position doesn’t exist anymore, some leave due to migration or some leave due to a personal reason like attending to a sick family member. Whatever the reason, the day you leave the workforce and do nothing while remaining unemployed, you start eroding value. Take an example of ice cream. While it’s sitting in your freezer, it’s in good shape, but the moment you take it out of the freezer it starts warming up.

Although there are always plenty of jobs that are open, those jobs may not be the best fit that one is expecting. So, rather than settling for a job that is beneath their skill level, or a menial job that would be damaging to ones self esteem, people pass those jobs and collect unemployment. This is where the ice cream example fits in. People keep looking for the job for which they are trained. Often the looking period is lengthy and lasts for more than a year.

Even when your resume gets selected for an interview, doubts and emotions creep in. First, you are going to be overjoyed on getting a chance to re-enter the workforce. Soon the joy will turn into anxiety and fear. The “what-ifs” creep in. You know those nagging questions: what if I don’t get the job, what if I get laid off again, what if I bomb the interview? Take a deep breath, and take it one step at a time.

Prepare your image

Set yourself up for it. Start each day as if you are going to work, which means showering, grooming your self. Set yourself a desk where your would research and apply for jobs. It may sound funny thinking about this but till will set your attitude while you are searching and applying for jobs, and hopefully taking calls from interviewers. If you are sleeping in, and then staying on your couch or your bed while applying for jobs, you won’t be focused enough. While studying Management in University, one of our professors used to make us dress up formally so that we look like manager, and this was on a Monday morning at 9.00 AM. IT HELPED, at least with the grade I got in that subject.

Mind the gap

Remember the ice cream example, lets just say that you have to provide a cool environment for it. The day you are out of work, a gap starts appearing in your resume. Don’t worry if you have gaps. As long as you can justify it, the employer will understand. Highlight the skills you have picked up on your time off. If you took time off because of children, you would have picked up negotiation skills, learnt time, resource and project management. If you were made redundant, it’s ok. There is nothing to be ashamed of as it was out of your hands. Make sure you do something with your time. The best solution is to do some short courses and get certified so that your skills are current.


A reason to be out of work for the younger generation, while travelling, you can pick up skills that can add value to your working life. While travelling you can pick up another language which is not only life-enhancing but also puts weight on your resume. Furthermore, while travelling you explore different cultures, meet many different people and often have to make executive decisions and value judgement, all that can

Been away due to illness?

This is something now one can control. Illness can drive an employee out of workforce for a long time and for people who like to work, it can be a very frustrating time. Take your time to recover from the illness. Try and get back to work part-time or come to a flexible work arrangement with your boss.


People migrate in search of better opportunities elsewhere. Imagine yourself packing up everything you have, leaving all your friends and family, leaving behind the place you grew up in and venturing into an unknown territory. It’s not an easy task, especially with work. Many feel that all the work history and experience just disappears and they have to start from scratch again. There is no harm in starting again. Your aim should be to familiarise yourself with the local industry standards, the local culture and work ethics. Whether you have to settle for something lesser than you are used to or have to do some volunteer work, they experience,

Stay Current

Psychologist experts say that reading industry publications and taking classes during a prolonged period of unemployment will help job seekers stay current in their technical skills and the practices of their profession. This will help fill gaps in employees’ work histories, letting potential employers see that they have made the effort to stay in the game, and will lead to an easier re-entry into the workforce once an offer is made. Volunteering, in your industry or within your area of expertise in another industry, is another way to ease the transition back into full-time employment. There is even a term known as “returnships”. These are internships designed for people who wish to return to the workforce.

Being faithful followers of the AFL, even is a star players gets injured and has to stay out of the game for a long time, they are required to play in smaller leagues before they can return to centre stage. This is done so that they can familiarise themselves with the current environment and polish their skills which may have caught rust over time.

Final words

Unemployment is tough. It causes anger, disappointment, pain and disbelief all at the same time and it takes toll on our lives and on lives of people around us. These feelings don’t go away very easily and hence it is important to recognise them and deal with them before they take over.

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About the Author

Mansoor Walli