IF YOU'RE ever looking to return to the job market after an extended absence, you might find it one of the toughest challenges of your working life.
You know that feeling you get heading back to work after a few weeks' holiday? Everything takes a while to click, processes and procedures are a little bit hazy?
Multiply that a dozen times and you're in the right ballpark. There will be big changes, the workplace will be unfamiliar and you may be uncomfortable taking direction after moving from complete independence back into a structured, hierarchical environment.
You might be nervous about the change of pace, or having to work in a team, or you might feel that you've been left behind by tech- nological advances.
Try to find someone to talk to - not necessarily at work, but someone who has recently done what you're about to do. Someone who can remind you that it's just like riding a bike. You don't forget. Or at least, you still know the essential parts. The rest will come back pretty quickly.
Returning to work can take months - you need to find the right job, and won't want to rush that decision.
Once you've decided to return to work, get up and get moving. You can't sit and wait for the right role to lob up on your doorstep, it's not just going to happen.
Go out and meet the challenge head-on. That doesn't mean you need to commit to a brand-new, full-time career.
You can volunteer or undertake work experience to both gain skills and an insight into the role before jumping into a new career.
You'll also be meeting people who work in the area that you're interested in, who will be able to offer advice about the job, and might possibly know about vacancies.
Volunteering or work experience is particularly useful for older workers, as those who have been out of the workforce for several years will notice big changes, particularly around technology and the role of IT in the workplace.
Not meaning to generalise, but it's a change that will impact more on older workers who may be unfamiliar with new ways and means.
To avoid getting caught out, there are plenty of training options to improve IT skills - most TAFEs, for example, will offer computing and IT short courses.