Mind the gap – a returner story

Emma Alkirwi describes a friend’s struggles to get back to work after a career break and her tips on how to get your career back on track.

Coffee, an iPhone and a small blackboard saying 'back to work'


Mind the Gap! Mind the Gap! Mind the gap between the train and the platform edge!

How many times have you heard this message?

A very good friend of mine has kindly allowed me to share her journey of returning to the workplace after taking a nine-year career break to bring up her three children. Here is her story:

Shortly after her first child was born, she was made redundant and she felt this was a good opportunity to stay at home to focus on taking care of her young family which, by this time, had extended to three children, and a relocation from London to Glasgow. She had more than enough to keep her occupied.  Like all parents there were challenges both big and small.

Soon after she settled in Glasgow, she decided she wanted to go back into the workplace and get a full-time position. However, despite an abundance of experience and enthusiasm, no job applications were turning into interviews. No recruitment agencies seemed to return her calls.

She felt many recruiters were taking one look at her CV and their algorithm was screaming MIND THE GAP – MIND THE GAP – MIND THE GAP!  The nine years of time spent away from the corporate world turned into a black hole that seemed to suck up everything else she had done. She felt this black hole sucked up her skills, experience and most of all her own self-belief. She was left devastated, doubting herself and wondering if she had made a mistake.

Sometimes she struggled to stay on course, but with the support of friends and family, she stuck to her goal to get a job. Finally, after a friend noticed a job that would suit her skills, she got an interview and a job offer! My very tenacious friend has now secured a position at a global bank and is settling in very well. I know she will go from strength to strength.

Some tips

If you are going through the same her main advice is as follows:

– The perceived GAP is only a small one that anyone can bridge. – Reach out to friends and family for support – and you will receive it and it will make it easier to take that step to overcome the gap.

– With some help, enthusiasm and determination, there will be another train that will arrive at the platform that you can focus on – rather than the gap between the train and the platform.

– More specifically, remember that there is no career gap – there is only time spent elsewhere that shapes you into the person you are today.  This is valuable experience not to be ignored.

Job searching can be a very time-consuming process and it can be challenging to keep a positive mindset. You will likely face disappointment along the way, but keep persevering as the results are worth it and the right opportunity will present itself.

*Read Emma’s article on how to explain career gaps in your cv.

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