First, you should analyze your decision to go back to work. Next, assess your career options. The longer you’re away from work, the more you need to determine whether your interests and skills have changed. For those who weren’t terribly happy in their jobs before they took a break, this is all the more important. And now you need to start networking. The most crucial message to deliver when you’re re-entering the workforce is how you are eager to return to work. Your high level of enthusiasm will set you aside from everyone else in the networking crowd. Lastly, if that first job after your break makes you unhappy, leave it. Even if you’re working out of financial necessity, don’t settle for something you can’t stand. Keep looking.
Depending on what you did during your employment gap, you may be able to use your experience to put a positive spin on your time away from the daily grind of working life. For example, if you performed volunteer work, consider the duties and responsibilities you held, or any awards you received, and use them as achievements in your search to show that you continued to grow and increase your skills set during your time away.
The workplace is full of returned workers (and workers who have yet to leave, but will). For all you know, the person interviewing you may have just returned from family leave, or may have a partner at home who is taking a sabbatical. Life happens to everyone. Remember that you’re not the same person you were before you left the workplace. You’ve had new life experiences, and probably have new priorities. It’s unlikely that the exact position you left would still be a perfect fit. Open your mind to job possibilities for which your basic skill set will transfer well.
From the outside, we tend to view the mainstream workforce as a group, all dedicated, all career-focused, all on the fast-track to success. But it’s really just a bunch of people like you who have outside commitments and priorities that change over time.
The days of fighting your way straight to the top of the ladder are dying out. The modern workplace is a blend of people whose career paths will have interesting detours, unexpected twists, and many changes as each of us completes the journey that works best for us.