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Returning to your Old Job After a Break

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 25 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
Old Job Work Job Sabbatical Career Break

Going back to your old job following a career break or sabbatical can be disorienting. You may feel as if you've gone back in time, or you may feel that everyone has stepped ahead in time without you.

Whatever the case, getting back in sync with your colleagues and adapting back to your old job rhythm is important for the sake of both your personal well-being and job performance, so do all you can to adjust as quickly as possible.

Top Tips to Adjust Back to Work

Get everything in writing before you leave. Don't leave without knowing exactly how you intend to come back - and what your boss's intentions are as well. It's important to know if you plan on keeping the same position, if you intend to move up, or if you will even have the same duties. Don't just rely on the spoken word, have everything written down. When you get back it may not be easy to remember a conversation that took place months earlier.

Keep on top of office politics. Regular communication while you're away is by far the best method to achieve this. Arrange for regular email contact if you'll be abroad, if not, have a biweekly phone chat with a colleague and/or regular conversations with your boss. Show them that the job is important to you, even though you may be far away or engaged in something completely different for a while.

Get regular updates in your field. It's hard to stay on top of your game if you have no idea what's going on, regardless of whether you are a doctor, shoemaker or hotelier. Have a colleague send you the latest email developments, read the trade journals, attend a conference or two, if possible. You'll find it a lot harder to adjust if you've had your head buried in the sand for months - or more.

Tread lightly. Keep in mind that not everyone has had the opportunity to take time off, whether you have been taking care of the kids, travelling around the world or teaching English in Bangalore. Some colleagues may be resentful and jealous of you, if not your experiences and adventures then just the fact you've had extended time off work. While it's perfectly okay to tell them what you've been up to, listen to what they have to say as well and don't think you're the only one who has done anything of interest.

Moving On to Something New

Not everyone makes a success out of returning to the same old job. Don't panic if after a while it becomes clear that you need to move on, but if you do decide to spread your wings, then do it with grace and style. You will need your employer's references and perhaps even help to get something new, so don't burn your bridges. Be straightforward about your intentions to quit but give your employer plenty of notice. No doubt they'll be sad to see you leave.

Ultimately, the success of your return to your old job after a career break or sabbatical is up to you. You'll find new faces, new methods of doing things and new job developments, and it may take weeks to adjust, to get back in the old rhythm of things and start again with a reinvigorated outlook. Give it time before you make any rash decisions. You may find that after a few weeks or so you enjoy your old job a lot more than you did before you left!

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