“I haven’t worked in years because I’ve been a carer. Where do I start?”

Is this a question you’ve asked yourself?

Perhaps you’re unsure whether an employer will accept a large gap in employment history, how to find a flexible workplace to balance your caring role, or where to start?

As we’re coming into the new year, you may be reflecting on your goals and aiming to gain employment in 2024. However, many feelings can arise when searching for work, from excitement to uncertainty. You may also feel guilty about trying to balance work and caring responsibilities.

Your feelings are valid and our team are here to support you every step of the way.

We have come up with seven key tips to getting back into the workforce to help you begin your journey. You can contact our team anytime for more support.

1) Value the experience you’ve gained in your caring role

As carers, there are so many tasks we take on every day that require skill, attention to detail, interpersonal skills and much more. From this, you have gained a wealth of valuable skills and knowledge that are transferrable to paid employment. Employers are looking for employees who have a mix of hard skills and soft skills. Start by making a list of both.

Hard skills are technical, practical experience you have while soft skills are personal qualities and strengths. For example:

Hard skills:

  • Provide personal care
  • Prepare and serve meals and household duties
  • Administration and calendar management
  • Managing finances and household budget
  • Coordinating network of health providers

Soft skills:

  • Good communication
  • Problem solving
  • Time management
  • Strong work ethic
  • Empathy
  • Leadership

Once this is complete, you should have a good foundation of skills you can add into your resume.

2) Address the career gap

How do you talk about a career gap? Some people wonder whether to mention it in their resume, during interviews or whether they should disclose it at all.

It is helpful to be up-front with potential employers and explain how this experience widened your skillset and how these skills can be transferred to new employment opportunities. Many people have employment gaps for different reasons. Leaving work to be a carer is a valid reason and can be turned into opportunity by demonstrating the skills you’ve learned in your experience.

3) Make a plan to get your dream job

Even if it feels like a long way off, planning for your dream job gives you a path to work towards. If you aren’t sure what your ideal role is, check out websites like Seek or complete a career quiz to discover what jobs could fit your values, skills and preferences. Once you know your desired role, look at the skills and qualifications required in the industry and, if needed, plan on how you will gain these.

Your Caring Way offers a Career Planning short course to help develop your career path. If interested, please contact us or check out our training page for more information.

4) Consider a “for now” job

While it is exciting to plan for your dream role, depending on our experience and training, the first step in your career pathway may be to apply for a “for now” job. This is usually a short-term position that meets your needs, such as gaining income and work experience. These roles are a good opportunity to obtain references for future employment and, importantly, transferrable skills for your next role that may position you closer to your ideal job.

5) Gather references

Companies typically ask for two professional references on your resume, which can be a source of anxiety for anyone who has an employment gap. Some tips to gather references include reaching out to former colleagues or supervisors you’ve worked with in the past, asking a current or previous teacher/trainer or asking a teacher or trainer for a reference if you’re studying. Always ask for permission and notify them when they may expect a call from a potential employer.

Volunteering is also a great way to establish professional connections, and you can ask for references from your volunteer coordinator or co-volunteers, which leads us to our next tip…

6) Volunteer

As well as being a way to give back to the community, volunteering can be an opportunity to make connections, gain mentoring and advice about being in the workforce, build your skills and confidence, or get a reference for your resume. SEEK Volunteer is a great way to find opportunities.

7) Be kind to yourself

And finally, be kind to yourself. Applying for many roles can become disheartening when you don’t feel like you’re making progress, but by making a resume and cover letter and putting yourself out there for work, you are making progress with every step you take. Be sure to celebrate the wins, no matter how small they seem. You are on your way and you should be proud of yourself!

Get in contact with us!

If you care for a loved one and would like help re-entering the workforce, our friendly team is here to help!

Contact us today by completing this form and we will be in touch with you soon on how we can support your journey.