There are many reasons why people might take time off from work — among them, dealing with a medical issue (e.g., cancer treatment/recovery), caring for a loved one or raising a family. Whatever the impetus, there are several things you can do to give yourself a professional edge while you’re away from the workforce.
A recent Idealist article outlines a few steps you can take to effectively use your time off from work. We’ve listed them below — as well as some resources that can be useful for cancer survivors, in particular:
Figuring out an alternative direction: Having a break from work can give you much-needed time to research and seek out other professional opportunities. That could mean determining if another or more-flexible work format (e.g., part-time, consulting) might be a better fit or if you should dive into a completely different field. As you figure out your next steps, it can help to make a list of companies/organizations that pique your interest and set up informational interviews. Volunteering and getting additional credentials are other great ways to stay engaged and move yourself in the right direction.
Pursuing your passion: Is there an activity or profession that you’ve always been interested in but haven’t had the time and/or energy to pursue? Have you ever dreamed of being your own boss and starting a business? Now could be the perfect time to further explore these options! Consider freelancing (to build your portfolio) or drafting a business plan. Of course taking time to network is always worthwhile. If there’s a class, training or conference that you believe would be beneficial, apply for a Professional Development Micro-Grant (the application period opens in October).
Gearing up to return to work: As you think about returning to the workforce, there are activities you can do to help ensure a smooth transition, including updating your resume and preparing your responses to questions that might come up during the interview process. If you’re concerned that a hiring manager might ask about a gap in employment, you can consider using a technique we refer to as “The Swivel.” It involves addressing the interviewer’s question, then redirecting (or swiveling) the conversation toward the details of the job you’ve applied for and your desire to get hired. It’s important to practice your response ahead of time, until you’re comfortable with it. If you think your CV needs some refreshing, you can submit it to our Resume Review Service and get tailored feedback from a professional career coach.
To read the full Idealist article, click here.