A handshake

Life sure can get in the way your plans, right?

Sometimes your plans get put off for the short-term—a few hours, a couple of days, maybe a week. But these are just little bumps in the road and don’t really affect your work history and story.

Instead what we’re talking about are those big moments in life that take you out of the workforce for an extended period of time. When it’s all said and done, you’re ready to go back to work, but is the work you left behind ready (and able) to take you back? And how can you tell?

Returning to the workforce after an extended period of leave can be difficult and uncomfortable, but only if you make it that way. As the corporate world moves on without you, it continues to progress. It might even evolve beyond your skillset.

In today’s world, where technological advancements are becoming an almost daily occurrence, how do you prepare to go back to work if your former position is no longer the same?

Workplace readiness is a real thing. No longer can a person just walk right back into a position they held ten, fifteen, maybe even twenty years prior—the changes have been too drastic. Does this mean the situation is hopeless? Absolutely not!

A successful transition back into the workforce after being absent for multiple years is possible. But it all depends on how you approach the process.

Here are several tips you can use to help you prepare for the transition back into the working world (even if it isn’t back to the exact place you were before):

  1. Your gap isn’t a big deal…unless you make it one. People (and jobs) come and go all the time. Don’t assume you’ve lost the capacity to get back up to speed, and are therefore unemployable. That’s a performance statement, not a value statement. Performances can be changed. Values shouldn’t.
  2. Focus on the VALUE you bring to the position. It’s not just about job-related skills. Life skills like time management, organizational, and planning are also very valuable (and desired).
    Experiences don’t go away or diminish just because you left. Remember who you are and what you bring to others. Capitalize on those.
  3. Network with peers and colleagues who are still in the workforce to get caught up on the latest industry trends. They may even offer some training on the most relevant or in-demand skills.

No matter what your reasons are for leaving the workforce (or delaying entry into it), it is not impossible to return. Opportunities are plentiful, but it does take some planning and preparation to make the transition back to work smoother.

Whether you are returning to your old job, or pursuing opportunities that will take you to the next level of your chosen career, reentering the workforce is a great time for you to embrace change. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and offer your values and skills to organizations that fit your needs. You might find yourself in a dream job you didn’t even know existed!