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Returning to Work After a Career Break

March 18, 2022

This week, I spoke at f1 recruitment’s Back2Businessship, a returnship programme in London for communications and marketing professionals who have taken a career break for caring reasons. Two years ago, I was on the programme myself.

When I started the returnship in 2020, I was blown away by the talent in the room, the skills and experience of all the other people who wanted to get back to the workplace. It never occurred to me that their expertise was in any way diminished after time away.

I encouraged this year’s delegates that if they can talk compellingly to recruiters about what they did before their career break, they are already demonstrating that their experience is still valid. It doesn’t expire.

Some of the most important skills in marketing and communications, like news sense and creativity, are more like instincts than technical skills that must be kept up to date. Whilst technology continues to evolve, our communications expertise is just as relevant as it ever was. When I was on the returnship, many of us were conscious that when we were last in the workplace, influencers didn’t exist. We were reminded that we were playing influencers into our communications strategies ten years ago, it’s just that then we called them key opinion leaders or third-party advocates.

Nobody should feel self-conscious about a gap on their CV. During the recruitment process at APCO Worldwide, my career break was never a concern. Since joining, I have been struck by the agency’s inclusive and supportive culture. People are employed based on the skills they bring to the table, and it is widely recognized that a diverse workforce achieves better results.

To help women re-enter the workforce, promote diversity and meet a need for experienced talent, APCO has launched a new programme to attract care givers back to the workplace. APCO Encore is being piloted in North America, with the appointment of five expert hires who will grow their careers on a flexible basis. Building on this success, the programme will be rolled out across the regions to attract talented professionals, whose career breaks have given them valuable life experience, to APCO’s global network.

APCO’s conscious effort to create opportunities for women to advance their careers after a period of absence is one of the many ways in which it lives out its deeply embedded value of inclusivity. It is also a testament to the high calibre of professionals who have taken a break and are eager to come back. As the BacktoBusinessship ends, I hope delegates leave knowing the true value of the talent that the workforce has missed out on since they have been away.

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