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Regaining Momentum: 13 Techniques for Building Confidence After a Career Break

Jumping back into a career after a break can be daunting, but with the right strategies, it’s entirely possible to regain confidence and build momentum. We’ve gathered insights from HR Directors and Career Coaches, among others, to offer you a diverse array of perspectives. From starting a success journal to undertaking a ‘Project Comeback,’ explore these thirteen empowering tips to help you find your professional stride again.

  • Start a Success Journal

  • List Your Professional Offerings

  • Set Clear, Achievable Goals

  • Seek Mentorship and Peer Support

  • Participate in Company Meetings

  • Commit to Daily Professional Tasks

  • Use Interviews as Practice

  • Invest in New Skills

  • Reframe Your Narrative

  • Switch Career Directions

  • Master Micro-Goals

  • Highlight Transferable Skills

  • Undertake a Project Comeback

Start a Success Journal

What really helped me get back into the swing of things at work was starting a ‘Success Journal.’ It might sound basic, but it made a big difference. Every day, I took a few minutes to jot down any little wins, positive feedback, or achievements, no matter how small. It could be anything from handling a tough task well to getting a compliment from a colleague.

This journal was like a real-life reminder of what I’m good at and what I’ve achieved. It was a way to push back against the self-doubt that usually comes with restarting your career. On days when I felt stressed or unsure of myself, flipping through the pages showed me how much I’ve grown and how resilient I am.

List Your Professional Offerings

While it’s important to reflect on all that you’ve done so far in your career, it’s also imperative to look ahead. Take out a piece of paper and make a list of everything you have to give professionally moving forward. This could be things like excitement, a rejuvenated perspective, energy, focus, etc. Making this list will help you gain confidence in everything you bring to a new role that someone without a hiatus may not have.

Set Clear, Achievable Goals

Reentering the professional world after a hiatus can feel like trying to catch a moving train. I’ve been there, and what worked for me was setting a clear, achievable goal.

During my own career break, I found that the world hadn’t stood still. New technologies had emerged, industry trends had shifted, and I felt out of sync. That’s when I decided to focus on one specific skill I wanted to enhance.

For me, it was digital marketing. I took online courses, attended webinars, and networked with professionals in the field.

This singular focus not only upgraded my skills but also boosted my confidence. I realized that while the industry had evolved, so had I. By setting a clear goal and working towards it, I was able to regain my professional stride.

So, if you’re returning from a career break, pick a skill, learn it, and master it. It will not only make you more marketable, but it will also give you the confidence to jump back in.

Swena Kalra, Chief Marketing Officer, Scott & Yanling Media Inc.

Seek Mentorship and Peer Support

To regain confidence and build momentum after a career hiatus, seek a mentor or connect with colleagues who have faced similar challenges. Their guidance and support can boost your confidence and help you navigate re-entry. A mentor can also help you explore alternative career options and suggest ways to rebrand and reposition yourself. Connecting with peers can provide unique insights and perspectives to help overcome obstacles and stay motivated.

Dr. Jameca Woody Cooper, Clinical and Criminal Psychologist, Dr. Jameca Woody Cooper

Participate in Company Meetings

One of our senior managers recently had to take an unexpectedly long parental leave; she experienced some complications with her pregnancy and the delivery that kept her and her twins in the hospital for nearly a month after delivery. I’m happy to say they’re all thriving and healthy today, but her planned 12-week maternity leave turned into six full months without working full-time, followed by about a month of 30-hour weeks as she eased back into her role. 

One thing she did that really helped her make a smooth transition was sitting in on nearly every all-staff meeting we had while she was out. She almost never said anything and usually had her camera off, but she was there, staying informed about what we were dealing with, and she had plenty of ideas to implement when she returned to work.

Nick Valentino, VP of Market Operations, Bellhop

Commit to Daily Professional Tasks

In November 2022, I undertook a new professional endeavor: growing a marketing and technology brand on social media.

Now, I have 100,000 followers across all platforms. When I started, my future was anything but certain.

I had no momentum and didn’t know what I could achieve.

I made one promise to myself, “No matter how bad the content, I will upload a video to TikTok at least once a day.”

By setting the bar for success as low as possible, I was able to adhere to this commitment.

426 days later, and I still have not missed a day of uploading.

Not only that, but I now have a daily growth-hacking podcast and a weekly growth-hacking newsletter.

My videos have improved dramatically in quality, too.

By posting every day, I learned subject-matter hacks and editing automations. This has made it very easy to produce something decent.

My worst content today would have been my best content 400 days ago.

The best way to regain confidence and build momentum is to set the bar for success as low as possible. Commit to doing something in your profession every single day.

Edward Sturm, Fractional CMO,

Use Interviews as Practice

One technique that helped me was to take every opportunity to interview for a job, even if I thought it wouldn’t work out. I approached each interview as valuable practice, regardless of the outcome. This mindset shift allowed me to refine my interview skills, gain confidence in articulating my experiences and qualifications, and become more comfortable with the interview process.

Each interview experience, even if it didn’t result in an offer, provided valuable feedback and helped me improve for future opportunities. By embracing every interview as a chance to grow and learn, I regained my confidence, sharpened my interview skills, and ultimately secured a role that aligned with my career goals.

Rubens Basso, Chief Technology Officer, FieldRoutes

Invest in New Skills

Jumping back into your career after a break can feel like a daunting task. But here’s a personal tip that worked wonders for me: learn a new skill. I took a course in a field that really interested me. Not only did it refresh my professional knowledge, but it also led to a certification.

This wasn’t just a line on my resume; it was a massive confidence booster. It proved I could still learn and achieve, and it was incredibly empowering. The best part? This new skill and the confidence it brought were instrumental in me setting up my own business, which is now both successful and profitable. So, my advice? Invest in learning something new. It could be the key to not just re-entering your career, but taking it to heights you never imagined!

Reframe Your Narrative

When I took a hiatus to focus on personal growth, returning to my outdoor gym equipment business felt overwhelming. Initially, my self-doubt was a barrier. I started by reshaping my internal narrative, viewing the break not as a setback but as a period of gaining unique insights and skills. This shift in perspective helped me embrace the hiatus as an asset rather than a liability.

By recognizing the fresh perspectives and renewed energy I brought back, my confidence gradually rebuilt. This mindset shift was crucial in regaining my professional momentum, allowing me to approach challenges with renewed vigor and a more enriched viewpoint.

Switch Career Directions

When coming out from a hiatus, you don’t always have to stay in your career lane. With online courses and small projects to jump-start your new career within arm’s reach, all you have to do is focus on what you want. 

After taking a four-year hiatus from being a preschool teacher, it was extremely difficult for me to get back into the education field because it coincided with the pandemic, and most schools were doing hybrid setups. This prompted me to change direction right away. I always had a side hustle, which is writing, along with my 9-to-5. This time, I flipped the switch and made my side hustle into my 9-to-5. I took free online courses to boost my experience, and slowly, I got more and more clients. I also took note of the trends during that time and noticed that marketing writing jobs are in demand, such as outreach and digital PR, social media community management, etc. So I took my chance and applied for marketing writing jobs and landed one. It was not easy as I had to be trained and continuously prove myself, but because the jobs that I got required a lot of creative writing, I flourished, and I am still here.

Gen Ariton, PR and Outreach, CodeinWP

Master Micro-Goals

One pivotal approach that steered me towards regaining confidence was the practice of Micro-Goal Mastery. It started small: setting daily, achievable goals, like drafting a single email or completing a brief meditation session focused on chakra alignment. Each tiny victory not only boosted my confidence but also gradually rebuilt my momentum. I recall a specific instance where completing a small project led to a significant client acquisition. This experience underscored the power of small, consistent steps. They may seem inconsequential at first, but collectively, they forge a path to substantial progress and restored self-assurance in one’s professional capabilities.

Highlight Transferable Skills

One technique that has helped me greatly is focusing on my transferable skills. Whatever the reason for your career hiatus, you have acquired abilities that are transferable to the job. Tasks such as managing projects, communicating effectively, or addressing problems fall into this category. You can enhance your appeal as a candidate by emphasizing these abilities in job applications and interviews. Take some time to consider how your break has improved your abilities and reflect on the lessons you’ve learned.

Undertake a Project Comeback

Regaining confidence and momentum after a career hiatus can be a unique journey. Based on my experience, one good technique I recommend is a ‘project comeback.’

This involves taking on a short-term project or volunteer work in your field. Choose something challenging yet achievable that allows you to apply your skills in the real world. This project is a practical refresher for your skills and provides a tangible success that you can showcase in future job applications or interviews.

It also helps revitalize your professional skills and builds confidence by showing you can still produce meaningful work. It can also be a great conversation starter and highlight in your resume, demonstrating to potential employers your initiative and ability to self-motivate.

This proactive step can be a powerful way to re-enter your professional sphere with confidence and a renewed sense of purpose.

Laurie Hyllberg, Vice President, Kinsa Group

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