We all know that feeling of taking cherished time off work, only to come back to your job and not really know what day it is. Taking a break from work, even for a short term, can make us feel completely out of sorts. So, it’s no surprise that people who are absent from work for long periods typically lose confidence and feel apprehensive about returning to the working world.
If you’re about to go back to work - whether it’s the same job or a new one - and the thought is making you anxious, you’re not alone. Thankfully, we have 10 tips to boost your confidence and make the transition back to work easier.
Why People Lose Confidence After Work Absence
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), last year 1.8 million people in the UK were absent from work for a long-term period (four weeks or more). This represents around 3% of the working population.
The most common reasons for these long-term absences were:
- Sick leave (1.1 million people)
- Maternity leave (300,000 people)
- Parental leave (100,000 people)
Even a fairly short break from work can have employees feeling out of their comfort zone when they return. However, a 2022 survey by Vodafone UK found that 37% of people who have been absent from work for a year or more experience a loss of confidence in their own ability when they return. This is a significant proportion of people, and it shows that taking an extended break from work can have a negative impact on our self-belief.
There are a number of reasons for this confidence loss. People may worry that they have fallen behind, that their skills are no longer relevant, or that they will not be able to adjust to the demands of their day to day job. Some may also feel isolated and out of touch with their colleagues and manager.
It is important to remember that it is perfectly normal to feel a lack of confidence after taking an extended break from work. It takes time to readjust, feel good again, and regain your rhythm. However, there are a number of things you can do to boost your confidence and make the transition back to work easier.
How to be More Confident at Work
Taking an extended break from work can be a great way to recharge and pursue other interests. But if you’re feeling a little underprepared for your return, there are a number of things you can do to boost your confidence and make the transition back to work easier.
These 10 tips are a sure-fire way to feel more confident whether you’re returning to work after maternity leave or returning to work after a long absence for any other reason.
Acknowledge Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and it's important to be aware of both. Take some time to reflect on your skills and experience, and identify the areas where you excel. If you’re looking at starting a new role, focus on your strengths and think about what you have to offer potential employers and how you can contribute to a team.
Set Realistic Goals
Don't try to do too much too soon. Give yourself time to adjust to the working environment, and the demands of your job or new career. Set small, achievable goals for yourself and celebrate your accomplishments along the way.
Update Your CV and LinkedIn Profile
If you’re switching careers after a work absence, make sure your CV and LinkedIn social media profile are up-to-date and reflect your current skills and experience. Highlight your most relevant accomplishments and use keywords that potential employers are likely to search for.
Network with People in Your Field
Attend industry events, connect with people on LinkedIn, and reach out to your former colleagues. Reconnecting with your team is a great way to gain confidence when working with them again and networking is a great way to learn about new opportunities and get your foot in the door if you’re looking for a career change.
Practice Your Interviewing Skills
The return-to-work interview can be daunting for those coming back after an extended work break, and if you’re switching lanes, interviewing for another job can be just as worrisome. The more you practice interviewing, the more confident you will feel when the real thing comes around. Ask a friend or family member to help you practice answering the interview questions you are likely to be asked in either scenario.
Dress for Success
What you wear can have a big impact on your confidence level. Make sure to dress professionally when you go back to work, and you’ll certainly look like one of the confident people in the team!
Be Positive and Enthusiastic
Employers are looking for people who are excited to be there and who are eager to learn and grow. Show your enthusiasm by asking questions and participating in meetings and discussions.
Don't Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes, especially when they are starting a new job. Even if you’re going back to your old role, things will have moved on so don't let your fear of making mistakes hold you back. The most important thing is to learn from them and move on.
Take Care of Yourself
Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly. Taking care of your physical and mental health will help you to feel your best and perform your best at work.
Celebrate Your Successes
When you achieve a goal, take some time to celebrate your success. This will help you to build your confidence and stay motivated in the workplace.
Bonus Tip: Study to Develop Your Skills
Re-entering the workforce can be a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. By following these tips, you can boost your confidence and make the transition easier.
Another way you can get prepared to go back to work is by studying courses that have you learning new skills for the workplace. That way, you’ll be up to speed with the most up to date knowledge you need for your career, so you can hit the ground running.
Whether you’re looking to keep abreast with the latest IT developments, master modern marketing tactics, or complete Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses to add additional strings to your bow, learndirect can help. We even have confidence building courses if self-assurance is something you struggle with.
In any case, taking a break from work doesn’t have to be a case for anxiety. Use it to your advantage and remember, it’s never too late to study to elevate your life and career!