On Career Break – It’s No Longer a Lean Phase!
Author Dr. Divya Kumar
It was a Saturday evening. The mall was gearing up with shopping enthusiasts who were eagerly awaiting the Grand New Year Sale. I was running around to grab my best choices amidst completely charged kids who were playing hide and seek with their clan. A young mom unexpectedly was sprinting to catch hold of her kids. I was surprised and thrilled to see Nita – my career role model when I started working for an MNC, eight years back. Currently, Nita has taken her career break for her maternity. Five years on, Nita has no clue on how to get back on board.
Nita’s is not an isolated story but rather a sample of 36 per cent of Indian Women Professionals taking a break from work. Interestingly, almost 91 per cent of women who take a break want to come back to work. Women professionals take career breaks due to the 3M’s – Marriage, Maternity and lack of Mobility. In Indian society, women take a career break for elderly care too. Gone are the days when career breaks were considered invalid resumes. Times have changed! An array of initiatives has been taken by companies to bring women returners. Therefore, what is stopping or holding them back to make her re-entry into her career?
Here are some Career Returnship pointers on how women can utilise their career break usefully for their successful come back:
Upgrade your Skill-Sets
In the era of digitalization, women on career breaks can deal with the fast-changing job market and a gap in their skill-sets from home. Returnees can upskill via Paid and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which are free online courses available from top universities and colleges. These platforms provide a reasonable and flexible way to gain knowledge of new skills. Such courses enable you to upgrade both technological and non-technological domains. In addition, life skills are coaching skills such as Time management, Prioritization etc., that will be valuable additions to your curriculum vitae.
Build a Strong Network
Women are good networkers by natal. It is important to build networks that will support your career come back and advancement. Construct your Relationship Inventory in order to identify networks. Network effectively utilizing powerful networking strategies. LinkedIn is a potential medium to serve the purpose of positioning in career comeback. Never, miss opportunities to attend training sessions, workshops and webinars – these are the windows to meet like-minded people.
Invest in a Support system
In Indian society, we are constrained by the support extended by our immediate family. Nevertheless, this support cannot be depended on all the time respecting their personal commitments. You need to invest in continued external support like friends or daycare centres or babysitters/nannies.
Create your Personal Branding
Personal branding is a form of promoting an individual custom to create an image that exhibits his or her tenets and overall character. You can write a powerful introduction of yourself – countering what you are best at, who you serve and how you do it uniquely. Reinvent yourself by creating your own signature style!
Wipe off Self-doubts
Women often believe in the limitations set by others on her not to be overcommitted. It is imperative to have distinguishing makers – what defines an individual from others. Be mature and prepare your family to be independent of the beginning. So, wipe off all your self-doubts. Be BOLD and CONFIDENT that you are not alone anymore!
Remember – A decision to take a career break is more difficult than a comeback.