CEO and Co-Founder, Women Returners
Lead Coach Ireland, Women Returners
A multi-year break has traditionally been seen as the end of a career. However, with increasing opportunities to both restart and re-train, a career break can be an opportunity for a new beginning.
As working lives extend towards 50 years, many people want or need to press pause on their careers for childcare, eldercare or health reasons.
Time to reflect
Consider your career break as a rare chance to step back and reflect on what you want from the next stage of your working life: to resume your career with renewed motivation or to change careers for an exciting second act.
Returners often wonder if it’s possible to return to their previous career. It’s easy to feel low in confidence, concerned that you’re too out-of-date or have been out too long to pick up where you left off.
Be reassured that organisations are increasingly targeting returners as a strong talent pool to fill skills gaps and help build a more diverse workforce.
Leading Irish employers such as Deloitte, Expleo and J.P. Morgan now run returnship programmes, supporting returners back into professional roles after career breaks of 2–15+ years. Participants take on paid professional placements, with coaching and training support, and typically, 80–90% convert into ongoing roles.
If you have caring responsibilities, investigate before assuming that you can’t find the work-life balance you need. Post-pandemic, increases in hybrid and remote working have meant that many professional roles have become more flexible.
Participants take on paid professional placements, with coaching and training support, and typically,
80–90% convert into ongoing roles.
Re-train into a new career
Many returners successfully re-train, but take time to do research first — to check that the new path is a good fit for your strengths and interests. Test and learn by speaking to people doing your target role and seeking out job shadowing, work experience and taster short courses to find out the reality of the day-to-day job.
Build your confidence by thinking of a career change as a pivot, building on your existing experience and skills, rather than starting again from scratch.
Look for free or low-cost training. Some apprenticeships are now open to all ages, and there are many funded career change programmes in high-demand areas such as technology.
Value your career break
Whichever option you choose, value the wealth of skills and experience you have to offer an employer — during as well as before your break. Skills are developed through life experiences just as much as through work.