Returning back to work –
Tips for a successful new career

Returning back to work after a long break is a challenge for many people. The reasons for taking a break from work can be very different: parental leave, unemployment, illness or a period of caring, to name just a few.

Although there is therefore no one-size-fits-all recipe for returning to work, a general statement can be made: Returning to work requires careful planning and preparation, for which you should take your time.

We provide our top tips for returning back to work, so that you can set your goals, develop skills with further training, and receive professional advice to have a successful new career.

Getting back to work

Tips for getting back to work

There are numerous reasons why people want to return to work after a break. Financial independence, personal development or the desire for professional fulfilment, for example. Especially when you are facing the challenge of getting back to work for the first time, it can feel like a mammoth task, where you unsure about where to start. Here are some useful tips to productively plan your return to work:

1. Back to work: Self-reflection and goal setting

At the start of the returning to work process, it is important to carry out a thorough self-reflection. This phase can be difficult, but it is worth investing the time so that you can set yourself the right goals.

It also makes a difference whether you are returning to a comparable job and a similar industry as before your career break, or whether you want to reorientate and redefine yourself professionally. You may have been toying with the idea of trying something “completely new”, and perhaps now is the right time to do so.

Tip: Take time to realise your personal goals and your motivation for getting back to work. Consider what drives you so that you can work towards them in a targeted manner.

These questions will help you to define clear goals for your return to work:

Who am I? What are my priorities in life, both professionally and privately?
What defines me? What skills and knowledge do I have?
Where do I want to go? What are my professional goals?

Take plenty of time to think about the answers to the questions above. Make a note of key points and possibly discuss them with close contacts or former colleagues. It can be helpful to include the perspective of others when assessing your goals and future employment targets.

Career coaching with a professional coach can also be useful to work out the finer points. These coaches can provide you with additional support and show you new opportunities.

2. Back to work: Updating qualifications

The labour market and the demands placed on employees are constantly changing. In order to remain competitive, it is important to update your own qualifications and skills. This can be done through further training, courses or seminars. When returning to work, further training is a great way to show a potential employer your commitment and willingness. They signal that you are eager to take on new challenges and actively develop your skills.

But it’s not just on a personal level that you can upgrade your skills with further training. Ask yourself what skills you should have in your future working environment, such as in the international, digital working world, in order to be considered as a candidate for your dream job. To do this, look for vacancies for interesting jobs on the usual job exchanges. What qualifications are required? In which area could you strengthen your professional profile through further training?

The best thing about further vocational training is that it can be subsidised under certain conditions. Jobseekers and unemployed people in Germany often qualify for an education voucher from the employment agency or job centre, which can be used to attend further training courses free of charge. Please contact us for more information about our English language courses that are funded by education vouchers (Bildungsgutschein).

Many platforms offer flexible options for continuing your education online from the comfort of your own home. Ideally, the training takes place in a group with a live trainer. This allows you to learn effectively, stay motivated and make rapid progress.

3. Back to work: Optimise application documents

The application documents are a jobseeker’s calling card. For this reason, the CV and cover letter should be carefully revised and adapted to current standards. There is now a range of ready-made application documents available online, which you only need to fill in with your own data. This allows you to create an attractive application with a modern design.

Update your CV with additional qualifications that you have acquired during further training. Explain in your cover letter why you have actively pursued the relevant training and how it will help you in the job you are applying for. Remember to emphasise that you are up to date thanks to recent training programmes.

It can also be advantageous to adapt your CV for different job applications. For example, if you worked in marketing and sales in a previous job, and are now applying for a position as a sales representative, give a greater emphasis on your sales skills and experience on your CV. When recruiters receive a large number of applications, they search for relevant keywords (in this case “sales”). Documents that are not specifically focussed on relevant keywords and experience do not stand out positively and are in danger of being overlooked.

It can also be helpful to prepare references and letters of recommendation to strengthen your application profile. If you already have written references from your previous jobs – perfect. Otherwise, you can ask former employers if they would be willing to give a reference to potential new employers. With their consent, you can then attach the relevant contact details to your application.

4. Back to work: Search and apply for jobs

When searching for suitable job offers, it is advisable to concentrate on platforms that specialise in returners in general or in your industry focus. Job fairs, job portals and company careers pages often offer specially designed programmes or advice for those getting back to work.

You should also use the job search via the employment centre for your professional re-entry. The professionals at the employment agency or job centre can give you tips on suitable job titles and search terms. They can also run through various options for your return to work with an experienced advisor. You will receive suitable suggestions for job vacancies and may even receive information about vacancies that have not yet been published.

Returning to work

Counselling on returning back to work

Getting back to work requires perseverance and that you look at yourself, your wishes and professional goals. It can make sense to seek professional help in order to move forward in a focussed and disciplined manner. There are various contact points where you can seek advice on returning to work. Some of the key channels are:

Employment agency and job centre

As already mentioned, the local employment agency or job centre offer free advice services for jobseekers. Here you can obtain information on funding opportunities, further training routes and support programmes. This service can be particularly valuable if you are looking for local job offers, as many counsellors know their region well. The service is also free of charge.

Educational institutions and adult education centres

Many educational institutions and adult education centres offer further education programmes that are tailored to the needs of people returning to work. It is worth checking the programmes on offer in your own region. The bonus here is that programmes are either free of charge or can be booked for a comparatively low fee. You can also network regionally with other participants and possibly hear about interesting job offers.

Career counselling services

Career counselling services and career advisors can offer individual advice and coaching for getting back to work. Here, personal goals and skills are analysed in order to find tailor-made solutions. In comparison, this service is expensive – but you also receive a professional service from the specialists.

Plan your return to work well & Start networking

Getting back to work requires careful planning and preparation, but with the right steps and the right support, it is achievable. Addressing personal reasons, updating qualifications and focussing on further training are crucial factors for a successful return to work.

The counselling services and training opportunities available today offer valuable resources to help you find the right path back to work so that you can continue your career successfully. 

Final tip: Don’t shy away from networking with other people returning to work. Think about who in your circle of acquaintances has already faced the challenge of returning to work after a break and try to talk to them. Use social networks (LinkedIn or Facebook, for example) to find groups for people getting back to work and get tips and motivation.

Please contact us for a free consultation about our English language courses. These can be funded by education vouchers (Bildungsgutschein) in Germany and focus on developing English skills for the workplace.

Good luck with your return to the workplace!
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