back to work after a career break

Back to work after a career break: 7 tips to help you succeed

Remember your first day at senior school? Multiply those fears by 10,000 and you’re half way there. Whether your hiatus is down to travel, relocation or maternity leave, returning to work after a career break is a scary business. Fear not though because we sat down with the guys at Hopscotch, a company that helps professional women find flexible working options, to get their top tips on how to get you back into the work place after a career break. Here’s what they had to say.

Back to work after a career break tips: #1 Sort your CV

Set aside a bit of a time, perhaps half a day, where you take a good look at what your skills are and where you want to go career wise.  This could well have changed since your last job and with the arrival of children/family responsibilities/moving to a new country, so be really honest and don’t just assume you’ll be happy doing what you did before.  Ask yourself questions like: ‘Do I want to do something more community based?’ ‘What new skills have I gained?’ ‘What did I not like about my previous job?’ Once you have a good idea, re-write your CV bringing these skills to the fore and do some research into roles that might suit you. And of course, register at so we can get you on the road to finding your new role.

Back to work after a career break tips: #2 Get tech savvy

As they say, practice makes perfect so our advice is to immerse yourself in the types of technology you think you might have missed out on during your career break. Things like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are designed for the general public to use, so set up your own accounts and do some background reading on tips and tricks. If you think you might be using Word, Excel or PowerPoint in your new position, there are lots of free online courses and sites with information on how to update your knowledge.  At Hopscotch, we have kicked off a series of hands on workshops, so keep a check on the site for upcoming topics.  And of course, don’t forget if you have kids of school age, they’re probably using these things on a daily basis, so ask them for a private lesson. Pretty soon you will be up to speed!

Back to work after a career break tips: #3 Create a capsule wardrobe

If you lack work attire, the best plan of action is to build a capsule wardrobe with a few pieces that can be mixed and matched in order to create multiple outfits. Of course, splashing out on new clothes is expensive, so if you’re trying to keep costs down, stick to basics at the best quality you can afford. Brands like MadeWell, J Brand, J Crew, Rag & Bone, Anthropologie, Isabel Marant and Paul & Joe all have great ranges that aren’t super expensive, and the high street is always a fabulous source of similar styles.

Back to work after a career break tips: #4 Dress to impress

Knowing what to wear really depends on your working environment; however, a white or blue poplin shirt is always handy, as is a pencil skirt in a neutral colour, and a pair of well-fitting jeans. If colour is your thing, the high street is brilliant for bright accessories and scarves.  For footwear, brogues, pointed flats, a chunky heel or a pump can all work in the office.  Keep an eye on online portals like Net-A-Porter and Stylist, where you can often find handy tips and style guides to help.

Back to work after a career break tips: #5 Manage your employer’s expectations

If you have children at home you may be concerned about whether you’re able to show the level of commitment required for the role. In this case, honesty is key. At Hopscotch we manage the expectations of both talent and employer to ensure everyone is very clear about what is expected of them and how flexible they need to be. All our roles are short-term, part-time, flexible or freelance, so it’s very clear from the outset that full-time isn’t an option for our talent. Everyone has boundaries though, so ask questions during the interview about exactly what might be expected and how predictable hours are, if that is important to you.

Back to work after a career break tips: #6 Be upfront

Be upfront about the commitments you have, but make sure you also explain the plans you have in place to cope with them. For example, help at home from a family member or nanny, nursery or after-school clubs and perhaps friend-sharing the school run duties. That way, you will come across as committed, yet well organised and in control of your situation.

Back to work after a career break tips: #7 Face the fear

Whether you’re a confident person or not, everyone gets nervous about interviews. It’s totally normal, so don’t freak out. Before the big day, try to grab 30 minutes with a friend or your partner and do a mock interview.  Think of some tricky questions that could come up and rehearse your answers out loud. On the day, wear something that makes you feel happy and in control. If you find panic rising, take some deep breaths and imagine yourself to be the most confident person you know. Once you’re in there, maintain eye contact, try not to fidget too much, listen to the questions and above all just be yourself. Interviewers want to get to know you and what you can do, so really it’s you who’s in the driving seat.

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