Stepping away from the 9-5 of the office means falling behind on what’s happening in your sector and job role, so it’s a good idea before you return to work and start applying for jobs to give yourself a bit of a runway to get yourself up-to-scratch.

The changes that have taken place might not even have affected your specific industry or job role - with COVID19, everyone has turned to remote working, and now, for the most part, communicate virtually, and perhaps that will be the biggest challenge for you. 

Furthermore, recent changes in technology have meant a whole host of project management software being taken up by companies, whether that’s MS Teams, Slack, Monday or Trello. Luckily for you, these types of software are often free for you to try out from the comfort of your own home, and when you’ve mastered one you can easily switch to using another.

You’ll also want to assess where work will fit into your current life, which may affect the type of position and location that you choose. Do you want to go back to the daily grind? Do you want have a flexible position where you can work around your family life? Do you want to work during your evenings? Or do you even want to return part-time?

You can also reflect on your what you’ve achieved during your career break. Did you learn a new skill, start a small business, volunteer or do any online courses? Is there anything you did during your time out the office that you’d like to start doing in your work? 

Assessing where you are at currently, what you want from your next move and researching the industry can give you a head start when it comes to applying for work. It will show employers that you are serious, and have done your homework and thought through any challenges you might face.

Furthermore, you’ll be more sure that the positions you are applying for are for you, so that when you do get into the office, you’ll be more confident with your decision and take to your new role like a duck to water. 

How to Re-learn your Industry and Position?

Before you start looking for work you’ll need to re-familiarise yourself with your job role and industry so that when you finally apply for vacancies you’ll have everything you need to stand your in good stead. 

You’ll know what’s missing from your CV and can therefore upskill and gain more experience in whatever is neccesary. 

Here are some possible steps to take:

Informational Interviews

If you still have friends and acquaintances in your previous jobs reach out to see whether you can meet up with them for a quick coffee to find out more about the industry. How has the industry developed? How has the job role changed? What new technology are they using? What other systems to they have? How has COVID-19 affected their workplace?

Networking

Update your social media, especially your LinkedIn profile. Let former colleagues know that you are looking for work and what you did during your years away from the office. They can give you useful information on the industry, for example, the new jargon or the new companies that have sprung up, and you might potentially be first in line for a job when there’s an opening. 

LinkedIn Groups offer you the opportunity to ask further questions if you need help in expanding your knowledge post career break. 

You can also use social networking sites to follow companies that you would like to work for,  so that you’re up-to-date on their news and are the first to know when they are hiring. 

Trade magazines, professional bodies and company websites

Luckily for you, a lot of research can be done from the comfort of your own home. Sign up to trade magazines and professional body newsletters to get all the gossip. 

Researching companies through their websites also offer you the latest news and insights into the profession from the comfort of your own home. 

Conferences and events

If you do want to get out there, conferences are an easy way to get up to speed, as well as an opportunity to expand your network. Be yourself and explain your situation when you meet someone - you never know who it might be, and they might just be the person that will help you in the next step of your journey. 

Google alerts

An easy way to keep ahead of the news is to set up Google alerts for any key words you are interested in. You can set times at which they send you alerts, for example, once a week, where you’ll then be given all the top news stories relating to your interest. You can then read these all in one go, whether that’s also once a week, or before you go to interview.