Toolkit to plan a career break

The circle of life includes milestones, and with every sign ahead, it’s better to ask questions and plan a future. While it may not be the first question that comes to mind, but if one has to go on a career break then keep in mind or ask questions about what next.

Career breaks are very healthy and rewarding.  Some of the reasons for the break could be relocation, health, education or maternity.

  1. Conversation

It’s always good to have a 1:1 with superiors at work to see the options available when you do plan to come back. A part of planning is also to design and understand re-entry.

A simple conversation with questions about the scope of future work, the point of contact for communications, skills that may be available and provision or reassurance of job in the team, especially in case of maternity or sabbatical.

  1. Evaluation

The immediate reaction to no work is an evaluation of finances, but it is essential to understand where your current skill sets lies. The market has been churning quickly; in some cases, there is a constant competition. With cognitive biases in place and ageism playing a role, there are enough possible issues that people have to list against getting back to the rat race.

Then there is the FOMO (fear of missing out), so it’s better to understand where you currently stand in terms of skill, salary, domain, market and soft skills. It’s also good to realise the dream skills that you would like to gain. For eg., a person with technical background might want a business degree.

  1. Skill – Acquisition

It’s simple to know the opinions, and it’s also simple to understand the current ground. While you are away, try to acquire the delta skills or the dream skills that you may want. Plan sabbatical or break in such a way that you do land up adding additional capabilities. Of course, all the recesses have a reason, and I am not saying stop taking care of your baby since you are on maternity break but in the duration, in free time, try to sharpen your saw.

  1. Advisor

Pick a mentor or advisor who can help you with the transition before the break and from the break back to work. It could either be a mentor who has gone through something similar or a person who can keep a tab on you. Choosing a mentor is also essential to understand the blind spot in terms of understanding the market or self. The mentor could also be a support system during the various transitions.

  1. Re-entry:

There are many options to enter back into the market and different roles one could choose from the plethora of options. It’s possible to re-enter to the same company, same position; it’s also possible to enter back to a different company or role.

If you plan the ‘break’ properly, getting back to a job should not be difficult. I would suggest revaluation of current skills again before applying to new positions. I would also recommend a reassessment of current team versus your skill sets.

The reason for comparison is not about creating a self-complex but to understand and improve in the areas.

The idea to plan a career after a break may not be intuitive. It’s possible that one goes on a sabbatical and doesn’t want to get back to a job as well. However, understanding or evaluating options is a fruitful healthy exercise.

About the author:

Nida Sahar is an entrepreneur, an engineer, a technical leadership mentor, a writer and a poet from Bangalore, India. She is passionate about supporting women in science, engineering and technology.

(The author is a guest blogger at Her Second Innings. The opinions expressed are those of the author.)

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