Project Management Q&A: How to Return to Project Management After Time Away

I’ve taken a couple of years off to care for a relative. Now I’m finding it impossible to get back into a project management role. Any advice?

Returning to full-time employment after time away (for any reason) can be a difficult process. But there are steps you can take to make it easier.

Firstly you need to make it clear on your résumé what you have been doing for the last few years. Honesty is the best policy.

Hirers don’t like to see unexplained gaps and would prefer to see something rather than nothing. Leaving an empty period of time allows the hiring manager to think of the worst possible scenario, and rather than take time to find out the reason they are more likely to just push your CV aside. Put their mind at ease by letting them know why the gap exists and prepare to face any potential questions about it in the interview stages.

Depending on the types of roles you have been applying for, there could be some problems with trying to gain the same level of role you held previously. If hirers have two résumés with similar experiences and skills, with one candidate with a gap and one without, they always will prefer the one without—it’s human nature, unfortunately.

Think about lowering your expectations a little. Taking a small step back now to regain the lost ground actually might be a good way to ease back into something with less responsibility or lower-risk projects. Just until you get back into the swing of things. You also should make sure your learning and development are up to date.

Finally, try and get out and about. Attend networking events, seminars, and chapter meetings to help you find potential opportunities in your area and to help understand what’s been happening in project management over the last few years.

If you would like any further help restarting your project management career why not look into taking a Career Clinic with one of our recruitment specialists.

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