Have I been out of the workplace too long?

February 3, 2020

This year marks five years since I will have been employed in the workplace. Admittedly one of those years was taken up with being on maternity leave with Piglet. However, five years is a long time to be away from the hustle and bustle of it all. Although I now work from home, have I been away from the workplace too long to return to ’employment’?

Employment history

During my fifteen years within the NHS, I managed to rack up working in five different departments. From catering to Finance, community nursing to a community hospital ward. A stint working for the corporate management team before heading back to the community hospital ward. Which is where my career with the NHS finished after being made redundant. Sadly after fifteen years and eleven different roles, it was time to hang up my lanyard, smartcard and name badge.

Experience over qualifications

I joined the NHS on a whim, a part-time weekend catering assistant position. That would see me making sandwiches and salads for the patients’ meals, as well as serving up their dinners on trays before they headed out to the wards. It was something to help me earn a little extra money whilst I studied at college during the week for a diploma in public services.

However, with my family moving back to Cumbria I bought a flat with What The Dad Said and moved in together for the first time. Needing money to cover the mortgage and bills, I fell into the trap of doing extra shifts to cover the items that we needed and my college course fell by the wayside.

With only my GCSEs and a half-finished college diploma to my name. I have for the most part been lucky to gain the different roles I applied for. Gaining a move from catering to finance after expressing that it doesn’t take many brain cells to butter bread. Although I didn’t get every position I wanted I did manage to move around and gain experience in a range of different areas.

However, if I were to apply for positions now I would not have the same amount of luck. As many of the personal specifications that go alongside job applications all want qualifications with little or no regard for previous work experience.

Sorry you have not been selected for an interview

Last year, after feeling somewhat despondent with life as a blogger. I applied for a couple of NHS jobs. Roles in which quite frankly I could have completed standing on my head. Admittedly with a refresh of the NHS IT system. However, on both my applications I never even made it to the interview stage. A huge knock to my confidence and making me question whether I would ever be able to return to the workplace.

Homeworking vs workplace

I am, of course, very lucky in that I have been and currently am able to work from home in a self-employed capacity. However, I’m not sure that this is something that I want to do long-term and I missed the workplace – quite possibly through rose-tinted glasses.

Obviously, working from home has its benefits and I am incredibly grateful to be able to work around the needs of my family. However, it can be all too consuming. Missing the ability to switch off as my laptop does at the end of a shift. Others picking up the slack when you are on holiday or sick. As well as the support (and annoyances) of colleagues. Working from home can be very lonely.

How do I become employable again?

Whilst I would love to study at home to gain some additional qualifications. If I’m honest, I’m just not sure that I have the time or motivation to fit that around family life and earning a wage as a digital content creator (I really dislike the word influencer – so this sounds much better). Not to mention the cost involved with signing up to online study courses.

I need to update my CV to highlight my workplace experience, the different roles I have undertaken and what things learned from each role. As well as looking at my current ‘digital content creator’ role and seeing which skills are transferrable into the workplace. Such has schedule management, communication skills and the ability to work under pressure. Along with a covering letter, I’m hoping that this will at least get me to the interview stage – where my personality can shine and I can express just why I think I would be great for that role.

Is five years too long to be out of the workplace?

14 Comments

  • RAchel February 4, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    I also dislike the word influencer too. However, you might be surprised at how much life skills count towards job placements these days as well as qualifications!

  • Kristine Nicole Alessandra February 4, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    I think that is the trend nowadays. Employers always look at “qualifications” and they focus their attention on certificates and/or diplomas, without paying much attention to an applicant’s work experience. I have been out of the workplace for 4 years now. Unlike you though, I am perfectly content with doing online work at home. No more commutes and no more toxic environments. I am happy with what I have right now. I do hope you get to find a nice job that would acknowledge your years of experience in your field of expertise.

  • Kim Carberry February 4, 2020 at 8:36 pm

    I haven’t worked since my teen was born. She’s 18 later this year. I have been looking for jobs. I have a fancy new CV that I got written up by the National Careers Service. There seems to be more people looking for jobs now than there are jobs available! Good luck x

  • Sarupa Shah February 9, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    You’d think it wasn’t long but seems especially for the public sector more than private they constantly want immediate experience. The system is weighted to that and the way I would look at it is if the jobs aren’t forthcoming then there’s More available that you haven’t tapped into through the blogging. Magic happens all the time I reckon.

  • Valerie February 10, 2020 at 3:23 am

    People can return to the workplace after an extended time. I teach adult classes, many of the students are there to learn skills to help them be more employable.

  • Rhian Westbury February 10, 2020 at 8:40 am

    I don’t think 5 years is too long out of the workplace you just need to make sure you highlight all your skills as a blogger and how they can help you in a job x

  • Laura February 10, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    I have never been employed, have worked freelance or had my own business ever since I went into the world of needing to earn my own money. i sometimes think that maybe I should go and get a job, but honestly don’t think I could.

  • michelle twin mum February 10, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    Not at all, you are totally employable still. This summer will mark 7 years being self-employed and early last year I applied for a dupicate of the job I’d left with 10 years experience, at a different Uni and like you I didn’t even get an interview. I was flabbergasted. Then later in the year I applied for another job, a bit different, and got it and started last June. But then found that actualy freelancing suited me much better! lol Mich x

  • Jess Howliston February 11, 2020 at 9:44 am

    I sometimes feel this way too, so often now it feels like workplaces want you to have experience but how can you gain experience if nobody gives you a chance first! I think there are many great skills from blogging that can be transferred to other jobs though and look great on a CV.

  • Emily Underworld February 11, 2020 at 1:06 pm

    It sounds like you have a lot of skills, and so much work experience! It can be hard to apply for several jobs and not get interviews, but don’t let that deter you. I’m in the same boat as you for the opposite different reason – I have two degrees but not enough work experience!

  • Jo | My Anxious Life February 11, 2020 at 1:28 pm

    I’ve also been out of the workplace for 5 years – I was made redundant as I went on maternity leave with our eldest who just turned 5 and we decided I’d be a stay at home Mum for a while and our second son is 2.5. I’m trying to start my own business now as I can’t see myself going back.

  • seri February 12, 2020 at 8:27 pm

    i don’t think it’s too long, but i think you need to push the skills you’ve learnt through working from home and blogging. there are valuable lessons and skills you’ve learnt that can be applied to any new workplace.

  • Crystal February 13, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    I think the workplace has changed so much over the years. I’m currently working out of the home and have been looking for my own way to bring myself home for my family a little more. I think you have a a great skill set that any employer would be happy to have.

  • Kara Guppy February 13, 2020 at 6:53 pm

    It is so scary heading back into the workplace and I am not sure that I would be employed in my old role again now

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