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There are many reasons people have time away from the workforce – it could be a due to undertaking full-time study or some extended travel, for home duties or to care for an elderly or ill family member, a gap year, personal illness, or any number of other personal reasons.

So when you are ready to return – where do you start? Getting back into the workforce after an extended career-break can be challenging, so here’s the Top 3 Tips for anyone planning a return to work.

1. Just get started!
Being honest with yourself and understanding what you want to do is the first step in planning for a return to work. Do you want to return to your previous industry, or is this the perfect time to leap into something new? There are lots of on-line career quizzes you can do. Give one a try – you might get an idea of some options you may not have thought of before.

If your career break has been due to family commitments, you need to carefully consider the hours of employment you are seeking. Are you ready and able to commence full-time work, or is a part-time position better suited for now? The current gig economy – where temporary, contract or short-term positions are the ‘norm’ – might be perfect for you, even if only until you find something more permanent.

And most important, what are your salary expectations? Are they aligned to the current job market?

2. Update, upskill and refresh!
Depending on how long you have been out of the workforce, a few things may have changed. It will be wise to do some research into current workforce trends, in-demand jobs, and areas experiencing growth. Each year, the federal Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business (formerly the Department of Jobs and Small Business) produces employment projections by industry, occupation, skill level and region for the following five-year period.

You may find that you will need to fill some gaps in your own personal skill-set. This could be through training, renewing of licences and certificates, or simply reading about and researching current industry standards.

It is also crucial that you cast a critical eye over your CV or resume. How long is it since you have had it updated? A resume is often the one thing gets you a foot in the door of a future employer – and this is where a professional resume-writing service might be invaluable to you.

3. Make it happen!
Whatever your reason for wanting to get back to work, there’s only one person who can make it happen – you. Depending on how long you have been away, it may feel a little daunting, but apart from the obvious next step – applying for job vacancies – there are other things you might consider that will help to get you back into the swing of things:

  • Sign up for some volunteer work or work experience
  • Seek out a mentor, ask for advice, use those many contacts you have
  • If you are interested in a job in a new industry, see if you can ‘shadow’ someone in the workplace for a day or two
  • Check out what is being offered by your local training organisations – there’s often lots of free courses available for job-seekers
  • Join a computer club and refresh your technology skills
  • Practice your interview skills
  • Networking is a term that can be thrown about a lot these days, but don’t underestimate its value. Every time you talk to someone, go somewhere, or connect with someone new is a chance to expand your contacts and your knowledge. Sign up to professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.

And finally, don’t be shy. Let everyone know that you are back in the market. You just never know what opportunities might arise.