Returning to Work After a Long Break…!

Whether your break was planned or unplanned, returning to the workforce after an extended period away can be challenging.

Madeleine Burry from The Balance Careers offers some tips for getting back into the workforce after a long break, that are outlined below:

Re-Learn Your Industry and Network

If it’s been quite a while since you worked, you’ll likely need to refamiliarize yourself with your industry and the opportunities in it.

Some possible steps to take are:

  • Research your industry: Get familiar again with your job, role, industry and stakeholders
  • Network Reach out to former colleagues to let them know you’re returning to the workforce. These contacts may also be able to update you on the latest industry outlook—the big players, the new jargon
  • Attend conferences & informational interviews: Setting up some casual informational interviews can also help you feel up-to-date in your industry. Participating in conferences and LinkedIn Groups related to your industry can also help you get back in the groove.

Freshen Your Skills

During your industry research, you may discover that there’s a whole new world of jargon. New programs are essential. Or, maybe the tools are the same, but it’s just been awhile since you used them. Freshen up your skills and this will help you feel more confident.

Get Back into the Work Routine Quickly

Get back to a work routine, days before you even return to work. Embrace and cherish that you have a job to return to. It may not be the ideal job, however it is easier to get a new job, start a new career when you are working for many reasons.


Outplacement Services

Outplacement services are services an employer offers to employees who are made redundant from their job in the employer’s organisation. Whether the employee is taking / accepting a voluntary severance package or it is a situation of compulsory redundancy, the employer can help their ‘now’ previous employee make  a great start in their search for a new employment income. The employer can choose an external organisation to provide the outplacement service to the employee(s) over a number of hours; a number of days or a number of weeks depending on their available budget.

Outplacement services can include the following help and supports for the employee:

  • Designing Your Destiny & Identification of Your Ideal, Realistic Job / Career
  • Identification of Further Education, Training, Learning & Development Needs
  • Presentation on Paper (Cover Letters, Executive Summary’s, Curriculum Vitaes, Target Letters)
  • Job Hunting Skills (Six ways in how to secure interviews)
  • Interview Skills & Techniques (Competency-based)
  • Return to Work Programmes
  • Own Business Development, Planning & Management
  • Personal Development in a Business Framework (Coaching)

Outplacement Services

Advantages for the employee upon receiving these services include:

  • They can secure a new form of income much faster
  • They don’t feel isolated after becoming unemployed
  • They know that what they are doing in securing a new form of income is being carried out correctly and professionally
  • Confidence and self-belief is maintained or at least enhanced
  • They have an opportunity to change and realise their ideal job / career  

Advantages for the employer / organisation include:

  • They are seen as a great place to work in
  • The employee receiving the outplacement service is grateful to them
  • Remaining employees appreciate that the employer is helping their fellow employee
  • The employer feels a sense of satisfaction having helped the employee
  • They are creating employment / business for their outplacement service partner

Outplacement services are a good thing to offer and a good to thing to receive…

Time Management

Time Management

In his book, ‘How to be Smart with your Time’, Duncan Bannatyne, known from Dragon’s Den fame, has the following main content headings:

  • Identify your goals
  • What are you waiting for
  • What’s stopping you
  • Focus, focus, focus
  • Don’t innovate, replicate
  • Second best is close to ideal
  • Play to your strengths
  • Momentum
  • Delegation
  • Work with what you’ve got
  • Stop kidding yourself
  • Ignoring the little vice
  • Just say no
  • Detox your life
  • What did you do yesterday
  • Scheduling and planning
  • The turbo-powered ‘to do’ list
  • Clearing your backlogs (and making sure they never come back)
  • The best way to start your day
  • Get organized
  • How to be smart at work
  • What works for you
  • Be decisive
  • Beware: deadlines approaching
  • Overcoming procrastination
  • Communication matters
  • Be a smarter commuter
  • Teamwork
  • Technology

These content headings alone give us some idea of how time management is more important than ever in today’s world. We have all attended some form of time management course over the years  throughout our career and found them to be somewhat helpful and beneficial. Some of us too have read the books, such as Bannatynes book above, again to our benefit.

When it comes to time management, there are a few basic rules of thumb that I have found to be paramount:

  • Do a work list / to do list either on your smartphone or paper diary every day
  • Don’t delete / cross out anything until it is actioned / completed in some way
  • Get up early in the morning, you will definitely feel so much the better for it from mid-morning onwards
  • Try not to procrastinate, stick to the task you have to do at that time / that day
  • Get your required amount of sleep time i.e. the experts say 7-8 hours

Competency-based Interviews

Competency-based Interviews…?

Competency-based Interviews have been around a long time. However in recent years, they are becoming more formal and becoming part of an overall recruitment and selection process, where each candidate is required to complete a Competency-based Application Form first. Competency-based interviews are usually based on the contents of the Competency-based Application Form, though employers would design a competency-based interview upon receipt of CV’s. The competencies usually discussed at interviews are skills, talents, abilities that the successful candidate must have in order to carry out the duties and tasks of the role as outlined in the job advertisement / job description / job specification. The interview board would ask each candidate to give them an example i.e. tell them a story of an achievement, project, task that would best convince them that they have this competency in their natural possession. In order to convince them, the candidate would need an example that is preferably linked to a current or previous employment over the past 5-7 years (10 years maximum). The candidates with the best examples that are well structured, narrated and have a start, middle and end usually are selected or paneled.

The most common and well known format for sharing competency examples with interviewers in an interview situation is the STAR format i.e.:

  • S = Situation
  • T = Task
  • A = Action
  • R = Result

The Situation is the background to the competency example and gives the interviewers an overview / introduction of the where, what, who of the story.The Task tells the interviewers what you done (you, not we) in the competency example and what you had to do.

The Action shares with the interviewers how you done what you had to do. This is the detail of what you had to do i.e. how did you do it? The Result is the outcome i.e. what happened at the end. Was there a saving made, a project completed, increased turnover, a new client brought on board, an award achieved for example. When it comes to interviews today, competencies are what it is all about; the interviewers want to hear stories…!

Leadership – Moving on Up in Your Career!

Leadership is now becoming a paramount competency whether you are leading people or not. Every business / management / human resource magazine always has an article or two or indeed section dedicated to leadership. This is because most people who read these are career-orientated and therefore want to progress in their career; and in order to progress in their career, they must have excellent leadership skills, talents and abilities, so as to help their organisation achieve their business goals.

High potential employees who want to be the future leaders of or in their organisation need three key skill sets to realise their career ambitions namely:

  1. Business acumen
  2. Strategic acumen
  3. Financial acumen

Where is the organisation going, what strategy do they have and how do they plan to achieve their financial targets? Having this acumen (knowledge and expertise), will propel you to new heights in your organisation.

High potential employees need to be smart, hardworking committed, trustworthy and resilient; they need to be great with their customers, be able to empower their teams, negotiate effectively, manage conflict and be great communicators.

High potential employees (who want to be leaders) need to understand the business, where it is going and their role in taking it there, have the ability to scan the external environment and identify risks, opportunities, make strategic recommendations, understand the financials of the business, the story they tell and take appropriate action or make appropriate recommendations. This is the door-opener to career-advancement in your organisation i.e. business, strategic and financial acumen. All the other competencies are what make you different.

So, if you aspire to leadership i.e. going from middle management to senior management you need to develop the skills, competencies and acumen in business, strategy and finance. This can be achieved through mentoring, further education, training, reading and initiating / leading innovative projects…

Source: Susan Colantuono (TEDTALKS – Audio – November 2013) 

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