If you have been out of the workforce for a while, anything from a few weeks or months to a few years and you want to get back to work, due to a long absence it can feel quite daunting. No matter if you’ve had time off due to illness, travel, raising a family or the need to care for a family member, you are now wondering *how* you can go about getting back to work.

Taking the first steps in returning to work can be both exciting and overwhelming.  After an especially long time away, you may no longer feel you have the skills or confidence to cope with the workplace anymore. Just remember that you may have gained skills during your time away that you didn’t possess before.

Maybe you are saying to yourself –

  • I don’t have any work skills
  • My skills are out of date
  • I’m too old now
  • I have a family to consider
  • I’m still not feeling 100% well enough to return to work

Perhaps while you haven’t been doing work you got paid for, you still may have been using skills that are relevant to work. If you feel your skills may be lacking, why not consider upgrading the skills you do have. Think about taking classes – either at TAFE or with a local community centre or college. Perhaps you think at *your age* finding work is impossible – remember that employers make decisions on more than just a person’s age. Companies and businesses focus on hiring the right person for the job – regardless of age, so make the best of your reliability, your work ethic and any experience you already have.


If you are concerned about how returning to the work force will affect your family – think about someone else who can take on your role within the family. Consider sharing the role with others, if you have older children, give them more responsibilities. Many people hold down a full time job, have children and a partner while still managing a house – it’s just a matter of cooperation and planning.

If your return to work is following a long term or severe illness, take it gradually, consider part time or casual work, and, if your illness has made it impossible for you to return to your former job you may need to consider a career change, or to set some new goals. Don’t jump in with both feet, be quite modest when you first start back, as your health and confidence improves you can change or reset your goals.

What DO you want?  What is it you are looking for in a job? Do you want voluntary or paid work? Do you need to retrain? Do you want to go back to your old job/profession or are you looking to start in a new area or field? And finally, do you want to work full time or part time? Think about setting a long-term plan, is your goal realistic and achievable? Are you able to go for that *dream job* now? Or do you need to start off a little slower? If you do get a job, can you cope with it?

What skills do you have? What work can you do right now with your current skills? Take time to list the skills you do have and look at what industry those skills can be used in. What career or field are you interested in? To plan a career you need to know – who you are, your interests and accomplishments, weaknesses and strengths, and goals. You may also need to research and understand the job market and what opportunities are available to you.

Have you returned to the workforce after time away? Are you thinking of returning to work? Be sure to read part 2 of our article on returning to the work force, we’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions.


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