A lot of us haven’t had an interview for years. There are different reasons for this (maybe we’ve stayed in a job we love; or been stuck in a role we couldn’t progress from), but often it’s because we’ve taken a career break.
Whatever the reason for taking time away from your career, dipping your toe back in after a break can be scary. Has the industry changed? Have your colleagues moved on? You feel out of touch, and inferior to other interviewees. This can feel so overwhelming, and under confidence will massively affect your performance. Here is what I’ve learned from working with Returners:
- Know your worth
Go back through your old appraisals; find those emails from clients who loved you; the cards your colleagues gave you on your last day. Dig out your certificates and get them on the wall. Remind yourself of your right to be in the room; of the value you will bring.
- Take your time
Fear drives a lot of our decision making. We’re scared of getting nothing, so we take the first thing we can grab. Before you apply for a job, have a chat with yourself and check you really want it. It sounds like a luxury to turn down opportunities, and for some of us it’s not an option – we need to work. But interviewers pick up on uncertainty, and if you can afford to wait until the right thing comes along, you will reduce the risk of “failing” an interview for a job you didn’t even want in the first place.
- Don’t apologise
Plenty of people take a career break, and a gap in your CV is nothing to be ashamed of. A lot of companies even run Returners programmes specifically aimed at people who they know will bring valuable professional and personal experience to their organisation. They can see the dates on your CV and won’t even ask about the gap.
Other interviewers will ask, and you need to be ready with a positive response. Don’t apologise: think about the relevant learning you did in this gap which they would benefit from. Don’t be afraid to get personal: tell them about the parts of your life the non-returners won’t get the chance to talk about in their interview. Use this opportunity to let them get to know you as a real person.
- Get back in the room.
If you get the chance, try and grab a coffee with old colleagues. Go to an industry event and make sure you’re up to speed with the changes that have happened since you left. Meet some other Returners. Our inner thoughts are powerful, and we build “the workplace” up in to this scary “other world” that is full of people who are “better” than us. Take the power out of these imaginary figures by talking to people and reminding yourself that they are just like you.
- Get match-fit
Make sure you are prepared for your interview. Research the company, the role, the team. What are the big problems they have that you need to be the solution to? What language do they use? What qualities are they looking for? It sounds obvious, but so many people don’t invest in their preparation and go into their interview feeling nervous and under confident.
If you’re returning to work after a break, CONTACT ME to find out how I can help you prepare for your interviews.