Top 4 tips for resume writing after a career break

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In today’s work environment it is not uncommon for workers to take a career break – whether it be for family reasons, as a result of redundancy, education, health management, to travel or pursue a lifelong dream.

Despite this, a career break still presents a challenge for a lot of people when it comes to knowing what they should be writing in their resume when they’re ready to return to the office.

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To ensure a smooth transition back to work, here are my top 4 tips on how to write your resume and what to include after taking a career break:

1. Know what you are writing for

Things can change quickly! Even if you have had a shorter career break, the job market and the skills that are required for your ideal job may have changed. To ensure the best chance of success, start by researching your preferred jobs and industries to familiarise yourself with what your ideal job requires. In some cases, it might be worth considering upskilling or training.

Once you have identified what’s new in your space you can start exploring. Connect with people in the industry, review relevant publications and consider joining professional associations. By reading, learning and educating yourself, you will become familiar with industry speak and new buzz words before you even put pen to paper.

2. Acknowledge the break

Don’t pretend it didn’t happen; leaving unexplained gaps in your resume can have the recruiter questioning your entire application. My advice is to address the gap as concisely as possible. I would advise against trying to ‘hide’ or ‘disguise’ your career break, or trying to make it something it wasn’t by using elaborate job titles. You don’t need to go into great detail, just include the dates and a brief description or title. Examples could include: International Travel, Family Carer, Professional Development, Personal Development or Parental Leave.

You also have the opportunity to show the recruiter what you have done during this time to prepare for your return to work by listing these activities on your resume. This could include things like joining a professional association that relates to your industry, undertaking training in new technologies or attending industry seminars, meeting or workshops.

3. Reflect and leverage

During a career break people will often develop a strong new skill set that compliments their existing skills. Reflect on your career break to see what new skills you have developed that can support your resume. Maybe you have some volunteer activities, consulted in a contract capacity, contributed to a committee or even visited the country where your prospective employers head office is located.

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Remember that your resume is a sales document so highlight things that will sell you at your best. If you are unsure of content, ask yourself the question: “Is this selling me?”. Assess the value of your resume content, if it is not selling you in a positive light, you may run the risk of detracting from your skills and abilities which may dilute the quality of content.

Always remember that your career break is relative to your entire working life so make sure you highlight the achievements and outcomes that you achieved before your break as well.

4. Moving forward

If you have interviews coming up, make sure you prepare for any questions relating to your career break by linking how this experience supports you going forward.

The interview is a great opportunity to highlight how after the break, you are now ready to take on new challenges. Be prepared to discuss the break, and why you are ready to return to work.

When managing a career break on your resume, be honest and open. Focus on how the skills and attributes you developed during your break will make you a stand out applicant. Remember that it is okay to take a career break, you don’t need to apologise or hide it – turn it into a positive and use it to your advantage!

Kylie Chown is a Certified Master Resume Writer (CMRW), LinkedIn Profile Writer and Consultant Kylie Chown

Kylie is a Certified Master ResumeResume Writer (CMRW), LinkedIn Profile Writer and Consultant with over 10 years of experience. Her expertise lies in assisting people to ignite their career and elevate their on and off line presence. For more information, please see