Building your confidence when applying for jobs after a career break

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Building your confidence when applying for jobs after a career break

BY Skillset Marketing 02 Aug, 2021

If you haven’t been in the workforce for a while, you may feel a bit low on self-confidence. Maybe you are worried that your skills are not up-to-date? Or perhaps you have a bit of anxiety about starting a new job?

Whatever your concerns are, having confidence is important when applying for jobs. It is often the ‘x factor’ that can be the difference between winning a job or not. If you feel low on self-confidence, here are some tips for improving your confidence levels when returning to the workforce after a break:

Identify your transferable skills

Regardless of whether your career break has been spent wiping noses and changing nappies, or pursuing a passion project, you will definitely have a set of transferable or ‘soft’ skills that you can offer an employer. Before applying for any jobs, it is important to consider what these might be as identifying your transferable skills will be helpful when explaining any breaks in your career and will make you feel more confident about your abilities. For example, if you have been a stay at home mum, you might have ‘superior time management skills’ or ‘strong budgeting know-how’. If you have spent time out of the workforce pursuing a start-up business project, you might have ‘entrepreneurial and risk taking skills,’ whereas time spent travelling may mean you are ‘flexible and resilient’. When thinking about these skills, consider your strengths and frame them as benefits for a future employer in your resume or CV.

Think about enhancing your skills

If you are concerned that your skills and experience may not be up to date, undertaking a short course or getting involved in some volunteering may be helpful in boosting your credentials and at the same time, growing your confidence. Therefore, consider undertaking the following:

  • A micro-credential – these are mini, affordable courses offered by universities aimed at providing competency in one specific skill. They are generally delivered online. The big advantage of micro-credentials is they can be used to earn credit toward future formal award qualifications.
  • Short courses – these are also offered by universities, as well as TAFE, community colleges and private organisations in various subject areas. Their duration will vary from hours through to months depending on the course. They may be delivered face to face or online. There are hundreds of short courses on offer so do your research on which courses will be the most valuable for landing the job you want.
  • Volunteering – if you feel that you are short of working experience, a specific skill set, or you would like to try a different type of work, engaging in some volunteering for a period of time may be particularly beneficial. Once you have some runs on the board, you can add this experience to your resume or CV making sure you highlight what you learned from your volunteering and the skills you have obtained.


If you have spent considerable time away from the workforce and are considering going back to the industry you worked in previously, it is a good idea to reconnect with people from this industry to find out what has been going on in your absence and to learn as much as you can about new developments. It may also be helpful following industry leaders and businesses on social media and to sign up for company or industry newsletters to understand what is happening at these organisations. Not only will doing this increase your understanding of the industry but it will also help you with upcoming job interviews as you will be able to demonstrate that your industry knowledge is current.

One recommended way of reconnecting is via – a social media network which focuses on professional networking and career development. LinkedIn is not only a great tool for networking but is also beneficial for keeping in touch with industry news and events. It is invaluable when trying to find a job and/or preparing to re-enter the workforce.

Make it official

Don’t keep your plans to get back into the workforce to yourself! In addition to reconnecting with old colleagues, make the time to inform your other networks – including family and friends – about your genuine interest in returning to work. All of these individuals can be helpful in giving you feedback about your skills and experience, as well as providing a sounding board about potential job opportunities that come your way. Armed with the knowledge that you are officially job hunting and wanting to return to work, these people can also tap into their networks about job opportunities that might suit you and your experience.

Develop an action plan

Remember this inspirational quote – ‘A goal without a plan is just a wish’.

Just like any other goals in life, you are more likely to be successful with returning to work if you develop a plan with actions and timeframes that you can measure your achievements against. Once you start to achieve some of these goals, you will be well and truly on the path to returning to work and seeing these accomplishments will enhance your confidence. When developing your plan, ensure your goals are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-related – to give you the best chance of success!

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We are honoured to be on the ancestral lands of those whose cultures are among the oldest living cultures in human history. We pay respect to the Elders, past, present and to the younger generation of the community who will be the future leaders in years to come.