Taking A Career Break Need Not Break Your Career

 

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We all reach a point in our careers where we have to make that choice between work and family. Whether to put one on hold in favour of the other or to make them both go hand in hand. I was faced with this choice a bit too early in life and was a bit unprepared. I like to believe that I didn’t really have a choice, but looking back I know there’s always alternatives if you really want to make it work.

Often, when faced with the choice, choosing to start a family over pursuing a career is what most women tend to do. However, the mistake that most of us make is to put our careers on hold or even a complete stop when we enter the family mode. There is a midway and it’s time women started taking an informed decision towards their careers.

Here are some tips towards planning your break:

  1. Plan your break – Often then decision to take a break is spurred on by unforeseen events or stress of having to manage two roles. It is never advisable to take a decision when faced with uncertainty and under stress. Take a deep breath and plan it out. Make sure you think about how long you want the break to be and when you want to come back to work. Discuss it with your current employer and explore possibilities of roles that you could enter into at the end of your break. This will give you an idea of how you need to prepare yourself during your break, a sense of what to expect from your current and other employers and a sense of security.
  2. Brush up on your skills – Take up short term courses in your field to brush up your skills. If you have been wanting to change your field of work or venture into a new area, this is the ideal time to acquire new skills. If you are from the field of marketing a short-term course in digital marketing can help keep you updated. Writers and content developers can even learn new languages that will help them explore translation as an area of work. Some management schools such as SPJain, Sasmira, SNDT college in Mumbai, all offer various short-term post graduate programmes.
  3. Work Freelance – Enroll for work from home projects as a freelancer if your role allows you to do that. there are a lot of companies who create short term projects and are looking out for freelancers. This will keep in touch with your specialization and have something to put in your resume as well. Reboot, for one, is a great place to start. There are other forums, websites and Facebook groups where you can register to get freelance and work from home projects.
  4. Turn mentor – If you are planning to take a break from your work already, chances are you have at least 4 to 5 years of working on your resume. Use your experience and knowledge to mentor freshers from your field. Post graduate colleges are open to guest lectures / sessions by industry people.
  5. Keep your network alive – Join forums and groups that help you stay in touch with your network of people. If possible attend events in your city or even get-togethers with ex-colleagues once in a while. It will help you reach out to them without any hesitation when you are ready to get back and also keep you in the loop with openings. Being from the PR field I know of a Gmail group called The India PR Forum, which is a good place to keep in touch. LinkedIn and Facebook also have several vertical specific networking groups that one can join.
  6. Create a brand for yourself – Utilize this time to think about how you want to shape your career hence forth. Starting a blog about your work to share your experiences, advise and updates is one way to position yourself as a voice of authority in your industry. This will help you with 4 and 5 above as well.

Whatever you choose to do, it is important to be in-charge, take an informed and conscious decision. If prepared well, a break can actually do wonders to give you a fresh perspective and maybe even a much-needed boost to your career!

By Priyadarshani Agarwal

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Priyadarshani is gypsy who likes to drift through life on a whim. A corporate PR consultant, a budding blogger, wannabe wanderlust, an amateur chef, she is all of that and much more. Catch her snuggled in your corner bookstore with the latest suspense thriller, but don’t go quietly, she can get spooked easily!

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