written by: Anandi Merchant, Anandi Merchant Digital Consultant LLC: www.anandimerchant.com
Reentering the workforce after a career break – my story
I have a consulting practice based in Long Island, NY where I work with websites and analytics. I track how users interact with the website and then give actionable insights to help you improve your website and web presence, and grow your business. Here is a list of a few things I learned on my journey to becoming a solopreneur, and things I wish I would have known sooner. Let’s dive right in.
I have reentered the workforce after a sabbatical. And I am definitely not the first one to do that, neither will I be the last. Career breaks are a reality (and definitely more common than you think). In fact, they are so common that they even have a term for it: ‘Return to work Syndrome’. According to the TLNT blog, it is the culmination of the fear, worry, shame, confidence loss, and trepidation women experience when returning to work after a prolonged absence.
Though more common in women, I am sure that men experience this to varying degrees, and so does anyone who has to take a career break. It can happen to the best of us and it can seem nerve-wracking to make a comeback. According to the LinkedIn talent blog, 62% of the employees (almost two-thirds out of the 23,000 workers surveyed) had taken professional breaks. Reasons for this career break can vary from full-time parenting, caregiving, bereavement, gap year, relocation, layoff, or any other life experiences.
There are strategies one can follow to mitigate the stress that comes from reentering the workforce after a career break.
Lesson 1: Network: Ask for help
Sounds simple and straightforward, but if done properly can reap rewards. If you were in the workforce or office environment before your career break, chances are that networking will not be an alien concept for you.
Lesson 2: Get a makeover
Now that you are ready to go out and network, it is time to put your best step forward. It does not have to be too drastic, a simple step like a new haircut or a wardrobe change. Time to retire your joggers and sneakers. Invest in a few good additions to your wardrobe. . Anything that makes you feel good about yourself. When you look good, you feel good, You got this!
Lesson 3: Trust your training, but be ok with a career change
Most of us would love to return to the fields we once left, but the reality is that many of us will be forced to reinvent ourselves. I know lawyers who have become health coaches and real estate agents, engineers who have decided to open B&Bs or own small businesses, and accountants who have become financial consultants. Career and life satisfaction can be found in different places and in different ways. All of our journeys look different, learn to embrace those differences. Look at your hobbies, do you have something that you could leverage and pivot into a new career?
Advances in the field of technology have changed how we play, work, and interact with this world in general. The job market and the workforce have gone through a major overhaul in the past decade or so. Today there are many jobs that never existed 10-20 years ago. You were a published author/journalist before, give content writing a chance.
Have an eye for investments and stocks and consider a second career as a financial consultant or a money manager.
Start slow. Have faith and take that first step.
Remember the words of Martin Luther King Jr, ‘Faith is taking the first step even when you cannot see the entire staircase.’
Lesson 4: Be gentle with yourself
You have to find a way to silence the little voice in your head that says it is too tough. Meditate. Exercise. Anything that helps you think and feel positive about yourself and your future. Things will not change overnight, it takes time. Give yourself time but be persistent. Follow the 1% Rule. Make a 1% change daily in the right direction, and see how quickly it adds up.
Lesson 5: Look forward, because that is the direction you have to go in
Looking back to reminisce is a great idea, but don’t use the past as an excuse to complain. Life happens to all of us! Look back just to see how far you have come and pat yourself on your back. Take a few steps forward. And then repeat. Take a deep breath and believe in yourself.
Anandi has also been featured in our podcast Wedotalk with David Jaques: Digital Analytics and The World of Work | Wedotalk With David Jaques – YouTube
If you are thinking about building your own business, after a career break or because you want to start being your own boss, Wedo can help you: