Majority of people will have to go back to work after their career break and going for your first interview can be quite daunting. Interviews are bad enough even when you are in the job! Here are my top 6 tips to make the process go a bit more smoothly and how to explain a career break in an interview:
1. Be prepared
I am sure you will prepare for your interview, but you need to prepare specifically for the question to be asked about your career break. You don't want to find yourself on the spot and you want a structured answer ready. Hopefully this article will help you prepare for that!
2. Be honest
You need to be honest when they ask you the question, there is no point in making up some extravagant lie about how you volunteered in Africa for 6 months, when you were actually drinking your way up Vietnam. Its guaranteed that it will come around and bite you on the bum in the future. Be true to yourself and even if you did travel up Vietnam, you would have gained transferable skills without even knowing it. Tell them the truth of how you spent your time off.
3. Have examples of transferable skills you have learnt
This is one of the most important things to focus on. You need to reflect on what you did during your career break and then think about what skills you have developed, which you can transfer to the job you are applying to. This is one of the main reasons why a potential employer will ask this question, they want to know how you utilised your time, what you have learnt and how it could be beneficial to the job.
When you think of the experiences good and bad, that you encountered, you should be able to come up with dozens of skills and then back them up with examples. For example you could explain how you have developed your negotiation skills, when learning to barter in Asia, or increasing your confidence speaking in public, while teaching children english in Japan, or organisations skills by planning an around the world trip. These are just a few examples, but you need to make a list of the skills which are vital to your job and then think of examples to use.
The examples that you choose, can show what type of person you are. You want to show that you have integrity, drive and enthusiasm and use your initiative....so choose carefully.
4. Don't hide your career break on your CV
It's not a good idea to try and cover up your career break on your CV (usually by extending your previous employment). Be loud and proud of taking the time out!
5. Keep up with industry trends and networking (in person or online)
It is vital to keep up with the news, updates and networking within your field. It will impress the interviewer if you can show that you have been reading and are still up to date, even while you have been travelling or focused on something else.
6. Install confidence in your employer that you are ready to return to work
You will need to install confidence in your future employer that you are ready to return to the workforce. They will want to know that you are going to be dedicated to the job and not just save up some more money and disappear again. Be enthusiastic and be confident when you say you are excited to get back into employment.
If you prepare yourself for the question, you will be more confident with your answer and will actually be able to show it is beneficial to your job application, rather than detrimental. If you are preparing for an interview...good luck and let me know how it goes!