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Are you returning to the workplace after a career break? 12 Tips for returners

Article by Ceri Wheeldon

top tips for returners to the workplace image

The prospect of returning to the workplace may feel daunting, but if you approach it in a positive, constructive way it can be  quite straightforward to navigate.

Here are some simple tips to guide you through and points to consider, with links to previous articles which address some of the points in more depth.


  1. What are your transferrable skills?

List your skills from your previous employment and add the skills you have acquired during your ‘break’. You might be surprised at the value the skills and knowledge you acquired during your break might have –  there is a comprehensive article on assessing you’re your transferrable skills here . It is also covered in the careers module of the Midlife MOT programme with videos and workbooks to guide you through.

  1. What qualifications/professional memberships do you need to update to be employable?
  2. When putting together your CV are you ‘owning’ your career break and highlighting the positives achieved in this time
  3. Are you tailoring your CV for each role you are applying for? Again there are more tips here, but in essence you need to ensure that the skills and experience, together with language used mirror the requirements in the job advertisement/job spec.
  4. Are you clear about the role and type of organisation you want to join? What does the ideal job opportunity look like for you – and are your expectations realistic?
  5. Do you have a structured plan to manage your job search? Treat your job search as you would a project at work. Map out your activities by the day and week. In depth article here.
  6. Have you researched which companies in your sector are running ‘returners’ programmes? Do you meet the eligibility criteria? There are companies who shape roles specifically for those individuals who have had career breaks with a structure in place to help transition returners into the workplace. Often there is a structured programme with a fixed timeframe which can lead to a full time role assuming your ‘returnship’ is successful.
  7. Do you have your referees lined up for when/if needed ?
  8. Have you checked your social media profiles to ensure that they reflect the professionalism you wish to be associated with?
  9. Reach out to your network – many roles are never advertised but filled by word of mouth or employee referral schemes. Do you know somebody who works for a company you would love to join? Ask them if their employer has a an employee referral scheme and if you would fit into any of the current vacancies.
  10. If your skills are rusty, can you volunteer in order to gain some fresh experience – and transition back into work in a less pressured environment?
  11. Above all else stay positive and confident in the value you can bring to the workplace. The life experience and people skills you have acquired by the time you reach your 50s can not be taught ‘on the job’- and research has shown that having ‘older’ workers in teams can boost productivity. Your age and life experience are assets – not a liabilities!


Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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