Are you considering taking a career break but concerned of the impact it could have on your career? Career breaks are on the increase, and many women are deciding to take some time out, whether it is for family reasons, to embark on an adventure or simply take ‘some time out’.

Prior to beginning your break, there are a few useful things to consider to make sure that you make the most of your time out and make it work for you.

Women who take time out to be carers or to have a well-deserved break often end up feeling that they have lost some confidence on returning to the workplace. Therefore, the right mindset is important. Leave with a confidence in your decision and you will return to work confident in your role.

So how do you decide if a career break is right for you and make sure your return to work is uncomplicated? The pre-planning process is critical in making sure you exit and return successfully. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Outcome – Make sure you are very clear about the result you want to see if you take a career break. Spend some time deciding what outcome you would like. If it’s to spend time with your family, travel or educate yourself further make sure you can explain it to someone in 1-2 sentences and what this will do for you.

2. Plan – Plan what you will do during your break and the amount of time you will be away. If you have a deadline for your return to work and strategies in place for your time off, this will help give your employer a sense of certainty. Also, try sharing your ideas of how your employer can fill your role whilst you are away. We all know things change, however it’s important to give people comfort in your departure.

3. Pros and Cons – It’s old fashioned I know but write out the pros and cons for having a career break. It always helps me to feel more confident in my decision. Remember, if you feel confident about your decision, so will your employer.

4. Talk about returning – Even if you are not sure you will return to work, give yourself the option. Keep the plans focused on the idea of a return; this will make sure you don’t close off any opportunities. Tell people you plan to return, when and what you will be doing.

5. Stay in Touch – Many employers have ‘stay in touch’ programs in place. However, don’t feel left out if you don’t get included in activities. Make it your business to stay in touch. This can be as simple as sending in a monthly email to tell them about what’s happening or checking in on the company Facebook page.

6. Keep up to date – It’s really important to keep your industry and company knowledge, skills and abilities up to date. This may mean doing some extra study, an online course, read business books, follow a blog or keep attending a networking group. Stay current, as it will pay off when you return or in your next career move.

In conclusion, invest in your career break by taking the time to plan, be clear about your reasons behind taking a career break and communicate while you are away. This will leave you in a good position on your return.

About the author: Sarah Derry is the Director of People Reaching Potential, an organisation which focuses on creating opportunities for organisations and individuals to reach their “full potential”. Sarah has worked extensively in the hospitality and tourism industry and has developed expertise in coaching, learning and development, keynote speaking and recruiting the best. Prior to founding People Reaching Potential, she was the Regional Director of Human Resources for a large multi – national company.

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