It Is a known fact that women face a lot of challenges when they are looking to come back to work, especially after a career break. This situation becomes increasingly worse in the current situation when there are so many layoffs, there are so many fears about employment and if you are someone on an H4 Visa who has a career break then it is natural to feel unclear about whether you are ready to even come back to the workplace.
Hi, I am Priya from It's Ok Yaar and welcome back to our blog. In this blog we will cover the common fears that people have when they are returning to work after a career break and we'll also share some tips, strategies and resource to overcome those fears.
Before I dive into the topics about how to tackle your fears, the one thing to know here is employers are coming up with innovative ways to make sure that they can retain and attract talent.
We did a video about Returnship i.e. coming back to work after a career break and I linked that here so you can go watch it.
However, let's dive straight into the topic about how to tackle your fears and be your confident self as you are coming back to work. Below I've listed down some of the fears that I've come across and I've also given my thoughts on how to overcome those fears.
I have been out of the workforce for way too long and I have completely lost touch.
The one thing to tackle here is don't stress too much about the number of years you've had a gap whether it's 1, 2 or 15, it doesn't matter. That's not how you should introduce yourself. What you should talk about is what are the things that you will be bringing to this job.
What are those transferable skills?
What was your previous experience like and what has your journey been?
It's very important to own your story and tell your story in a way where you can convert all of your weaknesses into your strengths. So yes, you might have had a career break which ranged from 1 year to 15 years. However, it's important for you to talk about the journey that happened between that 1 year or 15 years.
You tried something new, your visa didn't allow you to work and then life took over, you go through a family crisis, or you just wanted a break and you were trying to discover yourself.
Whatever the journey or story is, you have to weave that into your introduction and own it as a strength rather than having those inhibitions that hold you back as being away from work.
So the one thing to note here is do reference your career break but don't apologize or defend it.
Make sure that you are owning it and you are talking about it as a strength and all of the skills that you would be bringing to the table.
I am too old.
The piece to remember here is diversity is an important part of any workforce right now. Employers want women who are older, actually in their 40s and 50s because they can actually bring a lot of maturity, experience and stability to an organization. So don't think of it as a weakness. Think again, think of it as a way and what are the strengths that you can actually bring to the job.
Technology is changing rapidly and I will not be able to keep up with the new technology
The piece here to note is technology is now a part of our daily lives throughout the time. So as much as you think that technology has changed, just take a minute to see the technology that's impacting your day to day life and you will notice that it's actually not that different.
And even if you feel a little out of touch, there are plenty of courses and easy online certifications that you can take up to brush up on those technologies. However, you're still comfortable with the internet.
You're still comfortable with using technology in your day to day lives. So as long as you're willing to put in that effort, employers are willing to train and make sure that you get that knowledge on that specific technology that you would be using. So don't let technology be a barrier. Make sure that you're using technology as a part of our lives as a strength and make sure to tackle that fear.
I have lost my confidence
This one is the tough one, especially because we live in the age of social media where it's easy to surround ourselves with so much content and people and we constantly are thinking that they are achieving a lot while we are falling behind. And especially true if you've had a career break, you feel like you are really lagging professionally when women around you or people around you are balancing their personal and professional lives.
The piece to remember here is everyone is selling a story. Everyone is telling a great story. So now you have to own your story and you have to show up as your confident version. Do things that make you confident.
You know, like for me, I'll give you my personal journey. My life was not like this. If you would have known me 10, 15 years ago, you would have seen me as someone who is very meek who's not able to confidently talk about my strengths and I was always looking for gratification from people around me to actually build me up.
Over the past couple of years, I've used a couple of tools that have helped me gain my confidence. The number one piece is being very intuitive and understanding what people around you are thinking based on their body language when you are delivering or when you are speaking. So just building that confidence based on the cues that you get while you are showing up helps you a lot.
The second piece that helps me show up as my confident version is putting in a lot of preparation. Whatever I'm going to do or whatever I do, I make sure I prepare and then I go deliver. As long as I've prepared really well, I am the benchmark and I'm the person who decides how good of a job I ended up doing and no one else is able to tell me whether it was a good job or a bad job and that is completely on me to build up my confidence.
The third one is whatever works for you. Be it reading certain articles, listening to podcasts, like making sure that you're feeling motivated and feeling confident about the strengths and how you are going to show up in the workplace.
Confidence takes time so it's not going to come overnight so you just have to make sure that you have built those benchmarks for yourself and as long as you are better than what you were yesterday and you have said that one extra thing, you have answered that one extra question more confidently, you are making progress and significantly over the course of years, you will notice that you have become a more confident version of yourself. The only thing to remember here is take that first step, show up and start somewhere.
I can't compete with applicants who haven't taken the time out
The very interesting thing to note here is now taking time off is actually considered as an asset because it feels like an employer's want people who are renewed and have a refreshed sense to come back into the workplace, just jumping from job to job and starting that next thing is no longer appreciated as much in the workplace or in the work culture.
So again, like I said, it's a mindset shift. You have to first feel comfortable that you are not lying behind anyone who has not taken time out. You have to understand that even when you took time out, you did certain things and if that was taking a vacation also that helped you rediscover yourself.
If that was taking care of someone in the family that helped you build that resilience. So it depends on what you were doing and what is the factor that you bring to that job. So make sure that you are saying that and you are owning that.
I am scared of networking and I don't know where to start
This is again a natural one to feel. I actually did a video on networking 101 and basics that you can actually start applying. I will link that here.
So go check that out.
However, the piece to note here is and that's going to come together is try to network with people who maybe have had a similar journey like yours. There will be so much that you can connect from them. So if you've been feeling less confident or if you've been feeling like, oh my gosh, I'm the only one who has taken this career break and I don't have any skills. Find those people because you will be surprised to know how many people have come back after a career break and rebuild their careers.
If you find them network with them with this story, tell them ask them, how did you do it? I want to learn this is my situation and trust me as much as you think that people will not respond back. A personal journey or a personal connection is the best way for someone to get back to you and make. People want to help at the end of the day. So you have to put yourself out there, find the right people. The people you want to surround yourself with and then share your story and you know within a period of time you will build a network of people who will support you and uplift you.
I hope this was helpful. If there is a certain fear that you are feeling, please leave that in the comment box and I'll try to answer to the best of my ability. But remember, a lot of this is a mindset change or a mindset shift and you are the only one who can change that mindset.
Be it through tools that help you build that positive mindset or taking those small steps for you to move ahead in your journey. I hope you liked this article.
Please share it with someone who is going to find this helpful. Till next time, remember it's okay. Bye and have a great day.