Five Things HR is Looking for When You Come Back After a Break

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Article By Ms. Kiran Bhatia, Associate Director -HR, Snapdeal

Going back to work after a long break is not easy, especially when you have to find a new job.

Needless to say, getting back to job of “your choice” would be tough. There would be many who would ask you “How would you manage after such a break?” Just smile at them and say “All these years while I was away from work, believe me I became hell good at things I had never done in my life like raising babies, cooking and cleaning. Now I am at least getting back to what I had done for years and am good at!”

A couple of things can be kept in mind while exploring a role and these are some of the key things, but not limited to, that any HR professional would look at when you are looking for a come-back:

1. Confidence: It makes the first impression when you come in contact with a HR person. Keep your confidence high, as most of the organisations value attitude more than the skill. If you are confident enough to come back, multiple opportunities await you.

2. Domain/Industry Knowledge: When applying for any role, do ensure that your domain knowledge is up to date and you have upgraded yourself with the latest trends in the industry.

3. Flexibility: Being flexible will help. Salary, for one, should not be a big deciding factor. Companies always look at the last role and compensation. So, do not compare your pay cheque or job profile with those who started with you and have grown while you were on a sabbatical. This doesn’t mean you should allow yourself to be treated as cheap labour. The compensation should be in keeping with your experience and industry standards.

It is often easier to make a comeback in emerging high-growth sectors or smaller firms. Emphasis should be on job profile and prospects and not on the size of the organisation.

4. Balancing Family: “How are you going to manage your family post you pick up a role?” While I personally hate this question, the fact is this question is “the ask” at most of the organisations. Once asked, make sure you talk about the arrangements you have planned to make while you would be out for work, keeping your confidence high.

5. Executive Presence: Someone with executive presence commands attention. This is the person you notice first when you walk into a room. Not necessarily the most attractive or smartest person, the person with executive presence has a unique combination of attributes that is compelling. Do pay attention to the following three pillars of executive presence:

a. How you act (Gravitas): Gravitas connotes seriousness of purpose, solemn and dignified behavior, and being perceived as important and compelling. It’s something to aspire for, as these qualities are assumed to be associated with leadership effectiveness. In organisational life, possessing gravitas is also seen as a key quality in the ability to yield influence. Generally, the assumption is made that people with gravitas lead better, manage better, present better, and network better. And often, it becomes the determining factor that makes or breaks careers. Gravitas is broken down into six aspects, based on survey responses from senior leaders:

1. Confidence and “grace under fire:” 79%
2. Decisiveness and “showing teeth:” 70%
3. Integrity and “speaking truth to power”: 64%
4. Emotional intelligence: 61%
5. Reputation and standing/”pedigree”: 56%
6. Vision/charisma: 50%

b. How you speak (Communications): The next crucial ability to demonstrate solid Executive Presence is centered on Communication. If you want your ideas to be heard by others, you need to be able to communicate. And in a way that resonates with those you need to persuade. This includes assertiveness, ability to read a room, sense of humour and speaking skills.

c. How you look (Appearance):While appearance has been the last rated as the least significant aspect of Executive Presence, there are enough evidences to showcase how poor appearance characteristics can rule you out of opportunities before you’ve even had a chance to show others how awesome you are. While a positive appearance must be maintained, understand that perceptions of poor appearance can act as a roadblock to getting ahead.

In order for your voice to be heard when you start your 2nd innings, you must first prepare yourself where people will listen to you. Regardless of the timelines of the break you have taken, do take a step back to prepare yourself to take a charge of your 2nd innings.

You were meant to be an aspirational woman…you had to conquer the world!

Disclaimer : The views expressed by the writer are purely personal