Returning to the work after a career break can be tough in any industry, but the fast-moving IT sector has its own challenges to contend with. Employers are looking for the most up-to-date skills and experience, so those who have been out of action for a while can often struggle to compete – but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a successful come back. This Wellington initiative recently caught our eye and got us thinking about the difficulties involved with re-entering the IT workforce. If you’re considering a career break or are currently in one, there are some steps you should take to help you bounce back upon your return.
Maintain Your Technical Skills
Due to the rapid pace of change in tech, it’s to be expected that there will be a few gaps in knowledge and expertise when returning to work after a career break. The skills that were highly sought after (even just a couple of years ago) may now be obsolete, and experience can be rendered out-of-touch by developments that have transformed previous ways of doing things. As a result, it’s important to counter this by keeping up with industry movements and being as prepared as possible.
Just as in any other industry, a good place to start is to review the requirements of current IT jobs and identify the gaps in your skill set. There are a number of ways to bridge knowledge and keep up with changes, such as:
- Reading trade publications to learn about new trends in the IT industry.
- Undertaking refresher courses that will help to hone existing skills and build new ones.
- Updating all relevant certifications and credentials.
- Taking part in webinars to expand knowledge base.
- Completing IT work on a voluntary basis to grow your experience during the transition.
New Zealand’s IT Industry is looking at new avenues for bringing in talent, such as the delivery of fantastic programmes such as Return to IT. The Wellington-based initiative aims to upskill NZ women who are looking to return to the IT workforce and help them back into the industry.
The programme has partnered with nine leading organisations, including ANZ, Cigna, Xero and Transpower, which are looking to employ women into a variety of tech-related roles. It provides supportive and flexible options that allow participants to make real contributions to organisational goals while still meeting their personal needs. Through hands on experience and the opportunity to take part in special projects, training and workshops, programmes like this enable those re-entering the workforce to upskill, become familiar with current industry standards and renew their careers.
Stay In Touch With Your Network
Your professional network is a valuable resource when looking for new IT jobs, and it becomes all the more important when returning from a career break. Maintaining relationships with past employers, managers, colleagues and clients is a great way to make your eventual return easier. Not only may they have knowledge of upcoming opportunities, but it’s a good chance to prepare any potential referees that could support applications as well.
Expanding your network can also help, providing new connections that can greatly increase your job prospects. Attend industry events and meetups whenever possible – they are a great way to stay on top of trends, learn, and get in front of top tech players. In addition, remember to stay active on LinkedIn – make sure your profile is in great shape, contribute to online groups and engage with leaders in the industry.
Returning to work after a career break doesn’t mean you have to jump straight back into full-time employment. Sometimes, it can be more beneficial to take your time and ease into the workforce a little more gradually.
Job sharing, part time and flexible hours can help you to readjust to working life, particularly if it has been some time since your last full-time position. This way, you’re still able to build experience whilst managing your personal life or searching for the right permanent role. It is also a great idea to combine part-time work with study and other programs, gaining exposure and allowing you to support yourself as you upskill.
Stepping back into the IT Industry doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Career breaks are common occurrences, so as long as you take the time to prepare before starting your job search there is no reason you can’t bounce back with confidence. If you’d like to talk to a specialist IT Recruitment Agency that can help you take the next step in your career, get in touch with the team at RWA Technology People.