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Returning to work after a career break

Written by: CABA
Published on: 15 Jul 2019

mother working with child on sofa

Pic: Ketut Subiyanto, Pexels


Whether you’ve been away for 6 months or 16 years, it’s normal to experience a range of feelings as you prepare to return to work. You may feel nervous, eager, daunted and excited. How you tackle the negative emotions will determine how smooth your transition back into the workplace is. 


A lack of confidence is one of the biggest issues affecting people returning to work. It might be hard to consider simply ‘picking up where you left off’. Or you might be nervous about a career break counting against you on your CV or at interview. 

The trick is to be clear about your strengths and skills - including those that you’ll have inevitably picked up during your career break. 

When you write your CV, outline the dates of your career break, and the roles and responsibilities you may have had, in the same layout as your other jobs. For example: 

Job hunting following redundancy (2013-present) 

During this time, I … 

"Attended networking events" 

"Completed a training course in …" 

Homemaker (1997-present) 

During this time, I … 

“Raised 1K for my tennis club” 

Similarly, in an interview situation, always speak about your career break with pride. And having mentioned it once, don’t mention it again unless asked about it. You can use phrases such as: 

"As you will see, I have been out of the financial job market for 5 years and I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about it." 

"In the spirit of transparency, my 5-year career gap centred around raising a family." 


Build your self-confidence 

  • Volunteering Undertaking unpaid or volunteer work gives you the chance to step back into the workplace and rediscover your skills and capabilities. An unpaid work placement could also lead to a permanent position. 
  • Update your skills Explore learning opportunities at your local community centre or college. IT refresher courses are great if you’ve been out of the workplace for some time, while management courses can help you return to work in a similar or higher position. 
  • Explore CABA’s range of free courses designed to boost skills such as better people management and emotional intelligence. You can learn online, or book a place on a course near you. 



Feelings of anxiety can quickly put us off new experiences and mean we try to avoid certain situations - like returning to work. But avoiding the fear only feeds anxiety. 

Anxiety is something best dealt with head-on. There are lots of techniques you can use, from distracting yourself to breathing exercises and challenging unhelpful thoughts, for example by assessing the positives and negatives of a situation. 

If anxiety is affecting your transition back into the workplace, talk to a healthcare professional, to family and friends, or our experts at CABA. But don’t avoid the situation. 



This is particularly relevant to parents returning to work after raising children or if leaving someone you’ve previously cared for. It’s normal to experience guilt – especially if you have dependents at home. 

If you’re in this situation it’s important to remember the benefits of returning to work. For example, a child in nursery or school has the opportunity to socialise with children their age and learn and develop new skills. Similarly, having a professional take over your caring responsibilities may offer new opportunities to secure specialist equipment and enable you to take advantage of extra support. 

There are benefits for you, too. Returning to work can increase your income and boost your wellbeing – all of which will have a positive impact on other aspects of your life. 


CABA can help 

Whether you’re returning to work after a career break or unexpectedly finding yourself back in the job market following redundancy, it can be daunting. The practices that secured your last job might be slightly different from those you need to employ to secure your next position. We can help you find the right job opportunities and develop the right skills to get back into employment quickly. 

Ask us about one to one career coaching. Contact us today.