Black and white image of a father and his son sitting in a hammock

You’ve taken time out to care for an elderly loved one or child, and now dread writing that CV to return to work. How do you make sure that you look like an ideal candidate? How do you sell yourself? How to you boost your confidence and get motivated to start looking for a job?

Luckily for you, because more people are returning to work, and people are taking time off work for other reasons, for example an adult gap year, a career break is much more accepted and commonplace. You just have to make sure that you explain your absence in a positive light, that you learnt something from it and are a more qualified person for the experience.

Here are a few tips to help you get started!

1. Identify new skills

In your time away from the workplace you will have learnt a great deal, and you need to show employers that you’ve both gained these skills and understood how you’ve grown. You might be able to show off your resilience if you’ve faced an unexpected redundancy, independence if you’ve returned from a year travelling or budgeting if you’ve faced a fall in your family finances.

When writing your CV, highlight these skills alongside some positive outcomes, for example by explaining how you organised you child’s school fete. Specifically on your CV you might note:

Career break to raise a family 2010 – 2017

Summer 2013-2017: Planned, organised and managed the local primarily school fete with a range of entertainment, food and activities for the children and their parents. Additionally, the fete generated £2,000 which was donated to a local hospice.

2. Be honest

Don’t beat about the bush when it comes to taking a career break. People take them for numerous reasons, and most employers will be understanding with an open and honest explanation alongside what you would bring to the company.

3. Go specialist

If you can’t find employment on your own, a recruitment agency can help you to get your foot in the door. In particular, if you are returning to work after looking after children and what flexible roles, there are a few specialist recruiters that work with employers specifically looking for your expertise. These agencies will know how to promote you to potential employers. In particular, specialises in finding professionals fulfilling, flexible roles whilst specialises in executive part-time and flexible working.

4. Include personal and professional development

Alongside your career break you might well have dipped your toe into other things, whether it’s volunteering for the Samaritans or learning new skills via evening classes or online. Employers like to see that you take an interest in your personal and professional development, and are a highly-motivated individual, so remember to let them know all about it. Specifically mention skills you’ve gained that will help you in your next role and get to what you want to achieve.

Furthermore, if you have been volunteering or organising events, you might also want to use your contacts as a reference so you’ve someone outside your social circle or your previous employer to vouch for you if it’s been a while.

5. Skills-based

When collating your CV, mention the jobs you’ve had and what you achieved whilst on the job, while also having an area dedicated to skills. You can then use your previous work experience, career break and activities to show how you gained these skills. This is a great way for employers to focus on what you excel in, and that you have the ability and expertise to join their team.