Individuals sometimes decide to take a break from their careers. While this does give them the time to rethink their career path or upskill, returning to the workforce can be challenging, irrespective of the duration of the break. Adequate planning and some effective strategies are necessary to make a successful career comeback.

So what are the challenges you might encounter in this process and how to navigate through them?

Barriers to break

Sectors such as technology, startup ecosystem and financial services tend to be more open to return of individuals, says Sangeeta Lal, Senior Partner, TRANSEARCH India, an executive search and leadership consulting firm. After the pandemic, she has witnessed employers taking up a flexible approach and proceeding with a case-specific evaluation process towards those seeking to rejoin the workforce.

On the possible obstacles in a re-entry, she says that organisations are usually concerned with the huge changes in the business environment that the person has not had exposure to. This poses a huge challenge, especially at the CXO level. This is why she believes it’s imperative for candidates to stay updated on industry trends and developments. This will help them display the ability to transition to the new normal, and showcase extensive current knowledge.

Also, negotiating the right compensation can sometimes be a massive hurdle to cross when trying to re-enter the job market. It is essential for individuals to navigate these discussions effectively and ensure they can drive fair compensation for their skills and experience, she says.

Women-oriented initiatives to help cut through the return-to-work barriers

For women leaders returning from career breaks, organisations are increasingly focusing on return-to-work initiatives, says Lal. Various companies in India have implemented curated programmes to help women gain their confidence, refine their skill sets and, most importantly, smoothly settle back into the office environment. For example, she says, Google has the Next Innings Program, Amazon offers the Rekindle Program, IBM has the Re-entry Program, Microsoft provides Springboard and Accenture also has a robust return-to-work scheme. Such initiatives aim to create opportunities for women employees, who tend to face a tougher challenge while returning to work after a break.

Strategies that can help individuals ease their way back into the workforce

While elaborating on the strategies an individual can implement to successfully make a re-entry, Lal advises that the initial 100 days should be spent towards forging connections with stakeholders, comprehending the business and organisational landscape, identifying goals and objectives, and gaining insight into the organisational values and culture.

Next, she says the key is to deeply understand the nuances of the job role to be able to strongly present yourself as an ideal candidate. This is important as every employer tries to analyse the suitability of the individual moving back based on the awareness around the dynamics of the current business landscape.

Another suggestion she has is to strategically invest in self-improvement during the hiatus. One must focus on building on their competencies by exploring the latest technologies, participating in management programmes, or by obtaining formal recognition.

Given the digital era, she says individuals must learn to leverage social media to share industry insights and market commentary. This can undoubtedly make it simpler to present yourself as a thoughtful leader, seek the attention of potential recruiters, and enhance your professional visibility and appeal, she adds.


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