How can I get back to my career after taking time out to care?

I’ve had to take the last two years out of a highly pressured job in a think tank due to caring for my mum who recently died of cancer. How can I get back into the workplace in anything approaching my former role as an analyst? Where should I start? I know there are returner programmes, but these seem mostly for finance. Any help is much appreciated.

View of older hands holding the hands of a lady lying down depicting care


Returning to the workplace after taking time off caregiving can feel daunting, but it’s entirely achievable with a structured approach.

Firstly, it’s important to update your skills and knowledge relevant to your field. This could involve using online learning platforms such as Coursera, Udemy or LinkedIn Learning to access a wide range of courses and tutorials covering topics relevant to your field. There might be webinars and/or virtual conferences to attend hosted by industry organisations or professional associations to help you stay current with the latest trends, tools and best practices.

Networking is crucial; reach out to former colleagues, industry contacts and attend professional events to rebuild connections and stay updated on industry trends. You might like to subscribe to industry publications, journals and newsletters to stay informed about the latest research, case studies and thought leadership in your field. Reading relevant books written by experts can also deepen your knowledge. I’d also recommend joining online communities, forums and discussion groups related to your industry and engaging in discussions. Finally, you might like to seek out a mentor who can provide guidance, feedback and support as you navigate your career transition – their insights and advice can help you identify areas for growth and development.

Don’t overlook returner programmes; while many are more commonly associated with certain industries, such as finance and technology, they are becoming increasingly prevalent across various sectors, including think tanks, consulting, healthcare and non-profit organisations. Additionally, some programmes may be offered at the national or regional level, while others are specific to individual companies or organisations.

Tailor your CV to highlight transferable skills gained from caregiving, such as time management, problem-solving, and empathy. Here are a few other tips for tailoring your CV:

  • Include a brief summary statement at the top of your CV highlighting your key strengths, relevant experience and career objectives. Emphasise your enthusiasm for returning to the workforce and your readiness to contribute.
  • Create a dedicated skills section where you can showcase both technical skills and soft skills acquired during your caregiving experience. Highlight abilities such as communication, organisation, multitasking and adaptability.
  • Detail any courses, workshops or certifications you completed during your career break to stay current or expand your skill set. This demonstrates your commitment to continuous learning and professional development.
  • When listing your previous work experience, focus on accomplishments rather than job duties. Use action verbs and quantifiable achievements to highlight your contributions and impact in previous roles.
  • If there is a noticeable gap in your employment history due to caregiving responsibilities, consider addressing it briefly in your CV or cover letter. Explain the reason for the career break in a positive and concise manner, emphasising the skills and experiences gained during that time.
  • Tailor your CV to each job application by carefully reviewing the job description and aligning your qualifications and experiences with the requirements of the role. Highlight specific skills and achievements that are most relevant to the position.
  • Ensure that your CV is well-organised, easy to read and visually appealing. Use a professional font, consistent formatting and bullet points to improve readability and highlight key information effectively.

During interviews, focus on your experiences and how they’ve shaped you both personally and professionally. Emphasise the transferable skills you gained over the last two years that are relevant to the role you’re applying for and provide specific examples of how you demonstrated these skills in your caregiving role and how they can be applied to the workplace. When discussing your career break, frame it in a positive light. Explain the reasons for taking time off to care for your mother and how it allowed you to develop valuable skills and insights. Emphasise your commitment to returning to the workforce and your enthusiasm for resuming your career.

Be patient and persistent; returning to work may take time, but with determination and a proactive approach, you will find an opportunities that aligns with your skills and aspirations.

*Liz Sebag-Montefiore is a career coach and Director of 10Eighty, a strengths-based HR consultancy. For more information, please visit

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your Franchise Selection

Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

Your Franchise Selection

This franchise opportunity has been added to your franchise selection



Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

You may be interested in these similar franchises