Returning to work following a career break


welcome back note on keyboardReturning to work after a long spell of absence can feel like a daunting prospect. Maybe you are returning after taking care of a loved one or perhaps you took a sabbatical or extended time off following burn out or stress? Whatever the reason for your career break, its normal to feel anxious about your return to work. Here are 3 considerations to help you assess your options when returning to work.

Understand your career options

You may find that after taking some time away from employment that you experience a shift in priorities and perhaps want to learn more about what your career options are. When you are unclear about your options, it is easy to find yourself aimlessly searching through recruitment sites. Start by evaluating your current priorities; take a step back and ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • What are my priorities? Identifying your career priorities is essential to become more focussed on your long-term objectives. Think about what is important to you in a career, e.g., full time/part time, location, salary.
  • What skills do I enjoy the most? How do I want to use these skills?
  • What are my interests? Are there opportunities to pursue this into a career? Consider your interests outside of work that may influence your workplace, e.g. Charity
  • What steps do I need to take to pursue this?

There are several ways you can conduct research and explore what qualifications and training may be required in alternative careers:

  • The National Careers Service website advice around what training you will need to do in order to begin a new career, the salary to expect and what the job role is likely to include.
  • Visit job boards to research jobs, have a look at job descriptions and the specifications that employers require for the types of roles you are interested in.
Return to work schemes/Returnships

Some industries and sectors provide returnships, (return-to-work, returner programmes). Introduced by Goldman Sachs, several organisations such as Natwest, Amazon, Babcock, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley were some of the 23 companies who offered returnships in the UK last year. You can find a detailed list here.

A returner programme offers the opportunity for employers to access a largely untapped pool of senior, experienced and motivated individuals who have taken an extended career break and are keen to get back to their profession. The programmes offer returners a re-introduction to the workplace, addressing issues such as confidence as well as updating industry-specific knowledge.


Another popular option is exploring self-employment. Do you have a hobby or an interest that you could make money from? Would this enable you to work more flexibility whilst earning you a living wage? Think carefully about this option; if you do your hobby purely to escape or as something that gets you away from your day job, you may end up losing what you enjoy about it.

Is there a gap in the market that you could explore? Have you found yourself looking for a product or service that doesn’t exist? Do you have a talent that could be a business opportunity?

Establishing your own business may allow you to fit work around your family, maybe choosing to work in the early mornings or evenings instead of the usual nine to five. You may not need to commute or travel and have the option to control your workload and choose who you want to work for and what to take on. Remote working can keep their family a central part of their day to day lives whilst also managing to bring in an income using their skills or hobbies. You can read more of Renovo’s advice on self-employment here.

Renovo is one of the UK’s leading providers of outplacement and career transition support. We work with both organisations and individuals to support all their career transition requirements. If you would like to understand how Renovo can help you, please call 0800 612 2011 or email

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