Ready for a relaunch? Sabbaticals may happen for good, bad, and ugly reasons. Prepare your LinkedIn profile and other career management documents when returning to work.
Why might you take a sabbatical? Bereavement, cancer, career exploration, career transition, caregiving, creative pursuits, education, entrepreneurship, estate matters, full-time parenting, gap year, layoff or position terminated, health and well-being, military, personal goal pursuit, professional development, professional burnout, relocation, rest and relaxation, retirement, travel and cultural exploration, un-retirement, volunteer work, work/life balance adjustment, or writing a book, to name a few.
The length of your sabbatical may be a starting point for reevaluation; do you want to begin where you left off in your career or do something different when you relaunch?
If you want to shift your focus within your existing field or industry, you will make a career pivot. If you are making a more radical transformation to change to a different career or industry, you will make a career reinvention, and learn more in this article.
No matter why you took a sabbatical, transitioning back to the professional realm requires careful planning and a strategic approach for a relaunch.
- Reflection and Goal Setting – Set clear goals for your return, professionally and personally. This reflection will give you a sense of purpose and direction as you re-enter the workplace.
- Resume Refresh – If applicable, update your resume to reflect any skills and experiences gained during your sabbatical. Address the gap in your work history by showcasing the value and transferable skills gained during your time away. Position yourself and your keywords on your resume to your future-forward position.
- Networking and Reconnecting – Contact former colleagues, mentors, and industry contacts to inform them of your impending relaunch and return to work. Attend industry events, conferences, or networking meet-ups to rebuild or start new connections. Informing your professional network in advance can open up potential opportunities and make the transition smoother.
- Industry Trends and Skill Enhancement – Stay abreast of industry trends and changes that may have occurred during your sabbatical. Upskill and reskill if necessary. Demonstrating a commitment to continuous learning showcases your dedication to professional development.
- Communication with Employers – Initiate a conversation with your previous employer or potential employers before your return. Discuss your sabbatical, the skills acquired, and how they align with your career goals. Be transparent about your availability and any potential adjustments needed to facilitate a smooth reintegration into the workplace. Ask for an informational interview or a career conversation with people in your target career or target companies.
- Flexibility and Adaptability – Recognize that the work landscape may have evolved during your sabbatical. Be open to changes in technology, work processes, and organizational culture. Demonstrating adaptability and flexibility will make the transition smoother for you and your employer.
- Work-Life Balance – Maintain a healthy work-life balance as you re-enter the workforce. Share how you implemented lessons learned during your sabbatical to prevent burnout and maintain overall well-being. Communicate your boundaries and priorities with your employer to establish a balanced and sustainable work routine.
- Professional Development Plans – Work with your employer to create a professional development plan that aligns with your career goals. This plan may involve setting short-term and long-term objectives, identifying training opportunities, and establishing mentorship or coaching relationships.
- Update Your LinkedIn Profile for Relaunch – Attend workshops to learn if you are new to or rusty using LinkedIn.
Include a current and professional photo, revise your headline, banner, and About section to be memorable, and build your updated brand.
Hopefully, you have customized your LinkedIn URL by now.
Make sure you have changed your city to the large metropolitan area where you want to work (or are relocating to) and not the city where you live. Always position yourself toward your future forward.
Reflect on new skills, experiences, or goals you’ve acquired during your sabbatical, and highlight your sabbatical experience, if appropriate.
Mention your sabbatical in your experience section to briefly explain the purpose and skills you’ve developed during this time. Rather than writing in paragraphs, use bullet points with white space in between to make the content skimmable and scannable. Your numbers will pop out to the human eye with white space.
Showcase achievements, learnings, personal growth, or lessons learned and emphasize transferable skills gained and how they contributed to your professional journey.
Add media to your profile, and utilize the featured section. Create posts and articles, or start a newsletter. Use relevant hashtags with your content. Join and participate in groups on and off LinkedIn and follow companies of interest.
Don’t forget to turn off “People Also Viewed” in your settings so it changes to “People You May Know” so profile viewers are not looking at your competition.
Engage with your network and reconnect with former colleagues, mentors, and industry contacts by sending personalized connection requests. Focus on getting over 501 connections. Engage on posts, comment on updates, and send direct messages to individuals to rekindle professional relationships.
Request recommendations by reaching out to former colleagues or supervisors. Ask for endorsements on specific skills that you want to highlight.
Utilize the “Open to Work” feature to signal recruiters that you seek opportunities.
Authenticity and transparency are key when updating your LinkedIn profile after a sabbatical. Use the platform to tell your professional story and convey your value to potential employers or collaborators.
Returning to work from a sabbatical is a transformative journey that requires careful planning and thoughtful execution. By updating your career documents and LinkedIn profile, reconnecting with your professional network, maintaining open communications, and more, you can successfully navigate the challenges and make the most of the valuable lessons learned during your time away when you relaunch.
Embrace the change, celebrate your growth, and embark on your new chapter confidently and enthusiastically.
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Lynne M. Williams is the Executive Director of the Great Careers Groups, a volunteer-run 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides career development and networking connections for 1) job seekers in career transition, including veterans, and 2) employed and self-employed for career management.
Aside from writing keyword-focused content for ATS resumes and LinkedIn™ profiles, Lynne is currently writing her doctoral dissertation on LinkedIn™ for Job Seekers. She is a contributing author on “Applying to Positions” in Find Your Fit: A Practical Guide to Landing the Job You Love, along with the late Dick Bolles, the author of What Color is Your Parachute?, and is also a speaker on career topics.
This article is also published on: vista.today, montco.today, delco.today, bucksco.today, philadelphia.today and in the author’s LinkedIn newsletter. A list of articles can also be found in a Google doc.