# Transitioning Back into the Labor Force

This is a continuation of Taking Time Off Between Jobs

I received many responses after sharing my experiences about taking time off between jobs. Many resonated with my sentiments, while others sought deeper insights into transitioning back into the workforce. Today, I delve into these inquiries and illuminate my journey back into the labor force.

Firstly, I want to acknowledge a crucial point: not everyone can take time off. Financial, familial, and health commitments can often tether us to our roles. I recognize the privilege I hold as a software engineer, a profession that has granted me diverse employment opportunities and financial freedom.

A recurring question I’ve encountered centers around the challenges of reentry. Specifically, how does one make their return appealing to potential employers after a significant hiatus?

The bias against career gaps is undeniable. While some perceive it as “time off from work,” I’ve always viewed it as “time taken for myself.” Thankfully, many of my employers have been understanding and empathetic. Their interview processes, likely influenced by the nature of software engineering, prioritize technical expertise over employment gaps.

During my breaks, coding remained a constant passion. My GitHub profile is a testament to this, bustling with activity as I explore application ideas, some whimsical and others with potential. Leaving some projects incomplete is perfectly acceptable; it’s all part of the journey.

However, only some interactions have been positive. I distinctly remember a recruiter who condescendingly, commented on my “little timey offy.” While such biases are disheartening, I’ve realized that it’s impossible to shift every perspective, especially within the constraints of an interview. Instead, I’ve become adept at explaining my breaks, highlighting the flexibility they offer in interviewing without needing to take PTO.

On the rare occasions when my reasons were probed further, I emphasized my intent to find the proper role. In more intrusive situations, I’ve gently reminded interviewers that some might take breaks for the reasons others can’t, be it health, family, or financial concerns. It’s crucial to maintain personal boundaries. Just as one wouldn’t necessarily answer a police officer’s question about perceived wrongdoing, it’s best to keep job interviews focused on relevant topics.

Reentering the workforce has been relatively seamless, though finding the right reentry point can be time-consuming. When job hunting, I prioritize strong culture, effective communication, and the ability to prioritize, which can extend the search.

While my perspective is specific to software engineering, I’m curious if others in different professions have had similar experiences.

I advocate for normalizing career breaks. Everyone has their reasons, and we must respect and understand them. Whether contemplating a break or rejoining the workforce, remember that your journey is uniquely yours, and there’s no singular correct path.