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Tips for overcoming barriers to returning to work

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

Have you been thinking of returning to work and pursuing that dream career or goal? Or just wanting to be financially independent once again? What is stopping you? Here are some of the top barriers or misconceptions that I have helped my clients work through to begin their journey back into the workforce.

1. I am too old

Age is not a factor when you are clear that you are passionate about the job you are applying for and that you are interested in openings and challenges that test your capability. Once you decide that you want to get back to work after an extended career break you must spend time uncovering the experiences and strengths that you have acquired from both your past career and your career break that you know will add value to an organisation. You must focus on highlighting these strengths and experiences rather than your age. There are enough opportunities that allow you to use your experiences. In fact, no matter what your age if you are willing to learn and grow it is never too late to get back to work. The right companies will evaluate your experiences, strengths, values, integrity and work ethic that you bring to the table irrespective of your age.

2. New technology scares me

It is indeed possible that you will need to catch up on technology if you have been out of the workforce for some time, especially in some types of jobs more than others. But it is vital to note that many employers today are aware of this and have induction programs and necessary assistance to fill in skill gaps. There are also enough online or face-to-face courses out there that you can take to prepare yourself to get back to work. You may look for free or paid courses in your local community/ area or online on platforms such as Udemy. Look out for discounts that they have on there often. While the ever-changing technology can be intimidating, the good news is that it can easily be learnt.

3. Worried about balancing work and personal life

When returning to work after a break it is normal to be concerned about being able to juggle the needs of one’s family and work. But it is important to remember that over the last few years, especially post covid the world of flexible working has evolved. Many firms now practice hybrid working and willing to grant employees a sizeable amount of flexibility. These organisations have protocols in place which will enable you to meet your work deadlines and commitments while managing your family and responsibilities at home. Having said that there are steps that you can take to prepare yourself and your family for the upcoming change. Balance is important even if you had not taken a career break. I work with my clients to help them understand the mindset behind finding balance. The important thing is to take that first step.

4. My skills and experience are outdated

Most of us women believe that once we take a career hiatus, our skills and experiences become irrelevant and obsolete. However, some basic skills and knowledge cannot be lost, they just need to be refreshed and updated. In fact, you will be surprised how a break can give you much-needed renewed energy, drive, and clarity of thought. Most organisations also have programs to fill in skill gaps, as mentioned before. There are also many courses out there to help you fill skill gaps or get skilled in the areas that interest you. The important thing to remember is to be honest about your capabilities from the start. You may also realise that you can use your existing skills that are transferable to a different industry/ category of work that is more relevant or suited to you now. Many of us may not want to go back to our old jobs and careers. For example, I started my career in the advertising and media industry. However, after my career break, when I returned to work, I transitioned to the recruitment industry for advertising & media companies. So while recruitment was new to me, I had a good understanding of the are roles I was hiring for. The rest I learned on the job. We only need to demonstrate our work ethic, committment to learn and not be afraid to ask for help where needed. We may fail, but it will only be a matter of time before we feel like we had never left the workforce.

5. Lack in confidence

In addition to feeling a loss of skill, most of us women also experience a loss of confidence and fear that holds us back from exploring opportunities or going back to work. In fact, all the above-mentioned factors add to our fears and lack of confidence. We feel that no one will hire us because of the long career gap in our CVs. But we must remind ourselves, that, many companies today look for diversity of experience and perspectives. We may make mistakes or fail but we can only grow from these. We bring with us unique experiences that no one else can. The right company will recognise this and realise how our skills and experiences are relevant to them and can add value to their business.

Finally, it all starts with us being clear on what we want in our lives. Why do we want to get back to work, why now, what are we passionate about and what is the regret we do not want to live with? How do we use our existing skills to find jobs we want to do now (instead of going back to our old jobs/career). Once we have the clarity and conviction that we need to get back to work, we will realise that we can take steps to overcome all the above challenges so that we can return to a successful and fulfilling career and be financially independent once again.

I have helped many of my clients find clarity for themselves and answer these questions. I have enabled them to create a step-by-step plan for themselves so they can take those first proactive steps to the career of their dreams.

Email me on if you would like to schedule a free session with me to discuss the barriers that are stopping you from getting back to work.


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