Back On Track

What does it take to get your career pursuits back on track after your plans get derailed due to a major health crisis?  How do you come back after years of recuperation?  Battling a major illness and recovering from a severe injury are among life’s most difficult challenges.  But after all the physical healing is done getting back on track requires more hard work and a lot of patience.
If, at the time of your illness/injury, you were well established in your career, it may be possible for you to pick up where you left off.  If there haven’t been major developments or changes you could be welcomed back with open arms.  If your abilities have changed as a result of injury/illness, a former employer who knows your dedication and commitment might eagerly find you a new role appropriate for your current circumstances.
The same kind of major health events that can curtail a full blown career can just as easily derail the promising future of a recent or soon-to-be university grad with only dreams of what lies ahead.  Active military personnel who have experienced injuries also may have also had a professional trajectory before their service.  They too need help finding their way back on track.
For some, returning to work will require great changes and challenges.  It may mean pursuing goals different from what was targeted before getting sidetracked.  You may require new skills, new certifications, or going back to school before you can attain those new goals.  Some may be able to resume chasing those dreams while recuperating. Having a new set of goals can be a motivating factor in one’s recovery, helping them to achieve focus and provide purpose.
So how can they get back on track?
First, ask yourself:  Do I still want this career?
If “yes”, proceed!  If not, choose something else, then, proceed!
If you were in school, confirm that you had the credits to receive your credentials, diplomas, degrees, etc.  If the sidetracking occurred close to graduation, no further classes may be necessary, but sometimes additional work must be completed before the school can issue the declarations.  Start needed course work as soon as possible.  If necessary, contact the school’s disabled students department for accommodations now needed, including distance learning or other alternatives available to assist you.
Make contact with degree-related instructors, department heads, dissertation reviewers and/or career counselors with whom you had associations and who’ll recall your promise and potential.  Network face to face whenever possible to renew relationships and strengthen bonds.
Next, contact the alumnae groups from your schools.  It’s a good bet that even after a lengthy interruption to one’s career pursuits, the school’s alum will be glad to assist “one of their own” to move forward with their vocations, especially those who graduated from the same departments.
Current academic staff and former graduates are excellent resources who can frequently provide job announcements, info on internships, and personal contacts to help with the re-entry process.  If a planned internship was missed because of those heath issues, make contact with the same employers (or their competitors) to ask if they would still provide you a chance to prove yourself?  You can’t find out if the employer is willing to extend that opportunity unless you ask.
I would also encourage the reading of industry-related trade publications – online or hard copy – to catch up on recent trends, changes, movers and shakers.  Industry specific publications frequently have job listings and other contact information that can prove useful in one’s return after being sidetracked.
Returning job seeker should spend some time in a good business library, or a library with a well-developed career resource center.  Yes, a lot of resources are online, but getting assistance and direction from a knowledgeable librarian who can help you to identify and research local companies worth targeting could prove invaluable.  Don’t hesitate to ask a librarian for assistance!
I also advise returnees that they need to be open and honest about their individual situations during networking and interviews.  Traditionally, employers are not supposed to ask about an applicant’s illness or injury!  And if the injuries/illness does not impact one’s ability to do a job, they shouldn’t be revealed to an employer prior to an offer of employment.  An open discussion with an employer about your career interruption will give them a better understanding that the gap on your resume didn’t alter your commitment and dedication to be successful in your chosen field.
The best way for a careerist to get back on track after a long derailment is to commit to your dreams!  Find the faith in yourself and seek out the needed resources.  And don’t let your fears keep you from going after your dream jobs and careers!
For more information on getting back on track, your  job search and career development, please search this blog and visit: or contact me.