Unlocking Untapped Talent: How Career Breaks Build Valuable Skills for Your Workforce


We’ve all heard the misconception – take a career break, and you’ll return years behind, skills outdated, and resume gathering dust. But it’s time to flip this narrative on its head. Career breaks are growing more common, with 62% of all workers having taken a break at some point in their careers and 84% of millennials expecting to take an extended career break. The truth is that career breaks unlock a wealth of untapped potential. Returners cultivate invaluable skills that today’s organizations desperately need. 

Here are a few examples of the amazing things Returners have done while on a career break: 

  • Marcia was Chair of Fundraising for the Young Women’s Club and raised $45k to build a community playground
  • Katie was the Communications Chair for her town’s Cooperative Nursery School, where she developed a communication strategy and social media plan to promote the school
  • Misty was the caregiver for a critically ill family member where she researched all aspects of patient care, advocated for optimal medical care and treatment, and coordinated all facets of rental and residential properties
  • Susi contributed extensively to her community by volunteering in schools and the homeless community in her area, all while completing her post-graduate in Data Science and Business Analytics

How Returners Can Reframe the Narrative 

The so-called “soft skills” outside of a traditional work environment can actually be the very superpowers that can propel you back into the workforce. Parenting skills like multitasking and problem-solving, volunteer work demonstrating leadership and community engagement, and personal passions revealing continuous learning and creativity – are all valuable and needed.

So, how do we bridge the gap? First, recognize your own worth. Take inventory of the knowledge and abilities you’ve developed during your break. Maybe you single-handedly coordinated a complex school event, demonstrating stellar organizational and project management abilities. Or you managed a team of volunteers on a specific project, proving you can direct and motivate others.

Next, get ready to showcase these transferable skills to hiring managers. Carefully curate your resume to highlight relevant experiences. Develop interview anecdotes that illustrate strengths like time management, adaptability, and relationship building. Start forming a personal brand by crafting your story and preparing a concise, appealing, and informative elevator pitch

Learn about the proven, step-by-step process to make a successful career comeback, read Returner stories and advice, and do interactive workbook exercises – all within The Definitive Return-to-Work Playbook. Download the free book to get started!


How Employers Can Embrace the Value of Returners

Employers: it’s time to see the value in Returners and realize that career breaks create interesting and multi-faceted professionals, not outdated ones. This group comes with fresh perspectives, diversity of thought, resilience, and maturity from navigating a non-linear career. 

Here’s a simple framework for identifying transferable skills in Returners: look for evidence of strong communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and leadership. Consider how their breadth of experience makes them adaptable, empathetic, and committed to continuous growth. Recognize that raising children develops phenomenal talents like multitasking, resilience, and conflict resolution. Or that volunteer work done while on a break can hone skills like leadership, teamwork, and community engagement. 

Picture this: a dedicated parent wrangling schedules, managing budgets, and navigating social dynamics. Now, imagine those skills translated to project management, client communication, and team leadership. That’s the impact of transferable skills. 

Yes, updated technical skills or industry knowledge may need refreshing. But, the values and soft skills that Returners had before their break will still remain. If someone had strong analytical skills, high-quality standards, was well organized, or was a good writer – those things will still hold true upon their return to the workforce. Also, the core competencies gained from career breaks make Returners more well-equipped than ever to tackle business challenges. All they need is the right support and training to successfully transition back into the workforce.


We continue to be impressed by the caliber and potential of reacHIRE Returners — who possess the education, experience, and qualities we look for to support our growth. Through our partnership with reacHIRE, we’ve set a new standard for a strong, diverse, and inclusive workplace of the future.”

-Mai Lan Nguyen, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, North America, Schneider Electric


In the competitive race for talent, Returners are the secret weapons you want on your team. Build a Returner-friendly workplace, and you’ll access an untapped talent pool, engage employees with diverse perspectives, and paint your employer brand as forward-thinking and inclusive.

The time has come to rewrite the narrative. Career breaks unlock potential, develop talent, and prepare professionals for the next step in their career journey. See Returners for the skills they offer, the passion they bring, and the resilience they’ve built. It’s time to embrace the value of career breaks and the power of Returners. Need guidance? We’ve got the resources to kickstart your Returner-inclusive recruitment practices.