People often take career breaks—time out of employment—to pursue various interests. However, there are times when people, especially women, permanently drop out of the labor market. Recent studies conducted by IIM Bangalore and Warwick University show that women have a higher exit rate, especially in urban areas. Many women take mid-career breaks and often these breaks are unplanned, and they have no clear vision of how they’ll return to the workforce in the future.

The term ‘second career’ has gained prominence over time because mid-career breaks have become quite common. Several organizations provide second career opportunities to women that enable their return to the workforce. Wondering how to make room for second career options in your organization? Read on!


  1. What Is A Second Career?

  2. Why Focus On Second Career For Women

  3. How To Encourage Women In A Second Career?

What Is A Second Career?

There are several meanings associated with the term ‘second career’. It may refer to:

  • Individuals working in one field for several years and deciding to pursue a new career

  • Individuals seeking employment after retiring from professional life and pursuing opportunities that align with their passions

Depending on the situation, a second job or career could require additional training and upskilling for the individual to flourish in their new role.

Why Focus On Second Career For Women

In India, women are often forced to take career breaks without any definite plan to get back to work. Traditionally, women are expected to fulfill personal responsibilities and prioritize family over career. Whether it’s taking care of children or the elderly, the struggle is real for women on a career break.

Women professionals often fear getting back to the workplace because they feel their peers have moved ahead and they will have to start all over again. Many people also fear being rejected by potential employers. However, organizations can play an active role in supporting this transition. In fact, leading businesses such as Genpact and Amazon have dedicated programs to help women professionals transition back into their careers.

Additionally, there are several benefits of prioritizing second career options for women and integrating them into your hiring process. Here are a few:

  1. Valuable Industry Experience

Individuals who have been out of the industry for a while aren’t necessarily at a disadvantage. It’s important to remember that people who are returning also have the necessary knowledge, skills and academic qualifications.

  1. Best Foot Forward

People who are willing to return to work understand the kind of demands and expectations that jobs entail. They’re eager to pick up where they left off. In most cases, individuals are highly motivated as they want to prove they still have the necessary qualities of an efficient professional.

  1. Mature Perspective

Although they may not have got a paycheck, people on a career break gain highly valuable skills from different life experiences. For example, balancing responsibilities in personal life brings perspective and maturity. As employers, you can benefit from those who can look at the bigger picture.

In addition to these advantages, corporate perspectives are also changing. Some of the biggest names in engineering, law and technology are making room for people who want to return to work. Forward-thinking organizations are breaking stereotypes and changing the world of work one opportunity at a time.

How To Encourage Women In A Second Career

Not all women transition back into the corporate world easily. There’s a lot of effort and determination that goes into encouraging them to get back. Organizations need to step in and provide support and guidance that’ll encourage women to return to the workplace confidently. Some of the ways in which you can make room for second career jobs are:

  1. Taking Initiative

Several organizations have dedicated programs that push for women’s inclusion at work. However, for these initiatives to succeed, businesses must make it a priority and include it as a part of their culture. When top leadership shows commitment, people across managerial levels get encouraged to prioritize it as well.

  1. Checks And Balances

Many organizations actively monitor their hiring process to check for unconscious biases. Several have policies in place to ensure that women returning to work aren’t rejected based on resume gaps. Embracing an organization-wide policy to accommodate returning women can bring positive change.

  1. Training Programs

Individuals on a career break may have the professional maturity but not the necessary skills to keep pace with ever-changing industry demands. Organizations can start reskilling and upskilling programs to help them update their knowledge. It also adds to their professional development.

Additionally, women professionals need a toolkit of frameworks, principles and approaches to navigate demanding mandates. Harappa’s Women’s Leadership Program is designed to help women professionals navigate challenges across functional and business teams. It seamlessly combines the best of a rich, blended and integrated online-first learning journey that delivers transformative behaviors. Help women perform their best and raise the bar at work with the necessary skills. Try Harappa today!

Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as Must-Have Skills For Leadership, The Evolution Of Hero’s Journey, Top Women Leaders That Everyone Must Follow, The Importance Of Women’s Leadership & The Future Of Women At Work that will help organizations tap into their employee’s potential.

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