On a mid-career break and unsure what to do? Concerned about explaining your employment hiatus to hiring managers? Unsure of how to find a job? A few weeks ago, the Citadel Search team interviewed Christine Tiyu, a seasoned HR manager with over 22 years of experience across various industries and regions. Throughout her thriving career journey, Christine made the decision to take a career break, not once, but twice. Currently, she is taking her second career break to look after her mother. In our interview, she opens up about the concerns and challenges she faces finding a job and returning back to work, as well as invaluable tips on how to overcome these setbacks. Read till the end for bonus tips from Christine on having contract jobs!
Challenges & Concerns
Like every other major career decisions, taking a career break comes with its own difficulties. For Christine, this took the form of fewer replies for her job applications compared to when she was in employment or on her first, shorter career break.
Stereotyping from Hiring Managers
In addition, some hiring managers held her against the common stereotype of those who take on several contract jobs: Is she a job-hopper? Will she be committed? In our years of experience in recruiting, Citadel Search has encountered many employees who take on contract jobs for legitimate and even pressing reasons. Unfortunately, we have also borne witness to these reasons being overlooked by hiring managers and generalised with a blanket statement about the employees’ noncommittal nature.
In addition to such challenges, many of us often have to deal with our inner critic that whispers, “you’re rusty” or “you’re outdated”. When asked about such concerns, however, Christine replied that she was confident in her own skills and achievements. The Citadel Search team loves her response – it is an apt reminder of how we should not allow a mere career break to obliterate the past experiences we have built up and the skills we have rigorously honed.
Tips on Returning Back to Work
Christine also provided a wealth of advice on preparing to return to work after a career break. For her, she has been intentional about reading widely, including books on talent management, finance and biographies. If you’re interested, she recommends Money Games by Weijian Shan and The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: The Life and Times of Jacob Fugger by Greg Steinmetz. Indeed, as David Epstein, author of Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, mentioned, “in an increasingly complex world, what we need is people with range.” Equipping yourself with different perspectives and the ability to think across domains and make connections is a good move for preparing to return back to work.
Open to other options
Other than deepening her knowledge, Christine also shared about adopting an alternative approach in looking for her next employment – that is, being more open to other options instead of keeping to a one-track mind. Besides HR roles, Christine now also considers the possibilities of career coaching given her years of experience in people management. Analogous to casting our net wide, opening ourselves to alternatives is a key strategy in increasing our chances of securing job opportunities. However, it takes some introspection to identify what these alternatives look like for each of us. At Citadel Search, we believe that it is important we consider our passions, interests, strengths and experiences when identifying what these alternatives may be for us.
Benefits of a Career Break
Despite its challenges, many good things do come out from a career break. Christine is currently on her second career break which has given her both the time and capacity to take care of her mother. She also uses the rest of her time to volunteer as a Silver Generation Ambassador where she has the opportunity to hear from and help people from different walks of life. Not only has that brought her a sense of purpose, but it has expanded her world view and deepened her gratitude towards what she already has in life.
All in all, while some of us may need a career break (badly), it remains a difficult decision for most. What’s important, ultimately, is that we are intentional about making the most out of it, whether it is to invest in proper rest or to up-skill ourselves, and be flexible in our approach to finding our next job.
Thank you for reading till the end! We hope that How To Get A Job After A Career Break has given you some good advice. Here are some bonus tips from Christine:
- On contract jobs
As a HR professional with extensive experience in recruitment, Christine shares that contract jobs are not inherently different from permanent ones. Instead, she emphasises the importance of upholding ourselves to the same standards regardless of the type of jobs we take on. On top of contributing your best, she reiterates that we should remain mindful of our purpose of taking on a job.
- On during your job search
Stay motivated and positive.
What other Articles to read?
If you are thinking of changing job now, check out Changing Job? Things You Need To Consider to find out what are the things you have to prepare yourself for.
If you are a Generation X, baby boomers born in the early 1960s to late 1970s, who is worried about getting hired again, read Generation X – I’m 50 Years Old. Will Anyone Still Hire Me? to find your confidence back again!
Most importantly, keep a lookout for Contracting Jobs on Citadel Search from time to time.