I am caring for my mum who has multiple complex health issues. I am an accountant, but have been out of the workforce for some time, but am looking to get back from Spring when lockdown is over. Having had a career break, how do I present that in job searches and when should I bring up the need for flexible working? I am particularly worried as I know lots of people will be looking for jobs.
Getting back into the job market can feel tough when you’ve been out for a while. The good news is that many people have gaps in their CV from recent life events, so if you manage the issue carefully you should get results.
Put your focus onto what you can offer rather than what gets in the way. Look at your work history and draw out examples of completed projects, problems overcome, times when you have delivered results. Make sure these populate the first part of your CV.
Present your career break factually and briefly, indicating that you made an active decision to care for a family member.
Don’t make your need for flexible working your primary job search message. You’re in a sector where professionals frequently work part time or on a contract basis, but focus first of all on what you have to offer and the employer problems you can help to solve. When an organisation offers you something, that’s the time to explore options. For a great deal of accountants the actual tasks/work completed are often more important than when you put the hours in.
Don’t feed the assumption that your skills are out of date. Create evidence which argues the opposite, right now. Immerse yourself in professional issues and learning. Talk to former colleagues and industry contacts to find out some of the key accounting issues facing organisations. Take on some small projects on a pro bono basis to to sharpen up your skills and add recent material to your CV.
*John Lees is one of the UK’s best-known career strategists and author of 15 books on work and careers. Formerly Chief Executive of the Institute of Employment Consultants, John’s expertise as a careers specialist is also sought by a wide range of commercial organisations, universities and business schools. www.johnleescareers.com