Returning to work after medical absence break to career

Afternoon All

I have had to take a career break for the last 2 years after being signed off by the GP as unfit for work due to severe epilepsy. After various treatments, I am now fit for work, but have been struggling to get back into a role.

I would imagine the gap and it being medical reasons is the explanation for being unsuccessful. Unfortunately due to these reasons, CPD was not followed as much as I would have liked.

I'm wondering if I should enrol on another course, would that increase my chances of employment? I've been trying since August?

Many thanks


  • Hi and welcome, Darren

    You are in the right place here for CPD - along with all the other member resources on the CIPD Website.

    Also, if you've not already encountered them, there's always(they may have changed the titles but sure the service still exists):


    - sorry this doesn't directly signpost to a 'course' but just to observe that there are alternative ways of updating CPD and enhancing employment prospects
  • Welcome and I hope you are now fit and well

    Personally in terms of CPD I doubt that a course will provide you with a magic route back into employment. It wont do any harm but probably (IMO) wont do you a huge amount of good as I doubt its bang up to date HR knowledge and experience that is holding you back.

    (although there are great workshops and courses in CV writing, interview practice etc which may help)

    I think its just a case of keeping on trying, networking and trying to tap up old colleagues in the hope one hears of a vacancy.

    August to now whilst seeming like an age isnt a desperate long time for a search.

    Can you widen geographic area, change focus slightly on types of roles etc?
  • In reply to David:

    Thanks David :-)
  • Darren

    Great news about your health.

    Although it may not be what you are looking for, would a wellbeing position be something you maybe able to look into, even if this is a stop gap.

    Your personal experience would be a valuable resource in the sense of what is actually beneficial.

  • In reply to Keith:

    Hi Keith, and thanks for your advice.

    I was wondering if a CIPD course would improve the likelihood of offers (even though I agree it wouldn't provide any more up-to-date knowledge than I already have).

    Due to my epilepsy I am unable to drive, but my geographic area is out to around 90 mins (each way) on public transport which I think is suffice?

    I am open to types of roles and have been applying to roles as broad as HR Manager, to Payroll Administrator, to Customer Service Advisor, to HR CI Specialist, to Admin Assistant (as I appreciate I need to just get back into the job market initially, then progress from there - if even a FTC, or temp role in a lower position).

    I'm going into interviews using my career break as a positive - by utilising the fact that I can go into a new role using a clean, fresh prospective and a revitalised rejuvenation for shared services.

    I think perhaps (on reflection to your post), that August to October seems a long time to secure a post in usual application time - but in my circumstances, perhaps it's not too long. I will continue to be open and honest with prospective employers and show them in applications and interviews what my capabilities are; while continuing to network (as you say). Sooner or later the right role will arrive!

  • In reply to Sharon Lesley:

    Thanks Sharon.

    Not something I had thought about, but something I will look into. :-)

  • In reply to Darren:

    Hi Darren, is it worth looking at temporary working as a foot in the door? HR is full of contract positions for projects, cover for family leave etc. Have you been applying for those types of vacancies as well as permanent?
  • In reply to Helen:

    Hi Helen

    Yes, I've been applying for everything from perm, temp to FTC.

    I've literally just got off the phone from one FTC I applied for over a month ago - I have an interview on Tuesday (that's two Tuesday now), so fingers crossed!!

    I suppose that's where my initial question stemmed from; although technically we know companies can't discriminate against an applicant who's had two years out - we know in the real world even if their experience and knowledge gives them the edge... the gap could (and most likely would) be the deciding factor at selection (even if it is not necessarily how we would perform talent selection ourselves)?
  • In reply to Darren:

    Hi Darren

    I hope the interview went well. Another thought is there anything you could do on a volunteer basis or as a freelancer for small charities that might lead to something to put on the CV?
  • In reply to Darren:

    If you are getting interviews, then you are part of the way there and having any more CIPD qualifications is only likely to help at the sift stage, not the interview stage.

    I think you may actually be better narrowing your search rather than applying for everything vaguely relevant - it will help you to sell your experience more succinctly and stop you from getting burned out from too many applications.

    What were your strengths and experience before your illness? What roles were you in then? Do you have any connections from your past jobs? Have you contacted them for opportunities?

    Btw - have you also considered applying for Access to Work? You might be able to get help with transport costs, rather than having to rely on public transport and also you may be eligible for additional support in finding a role.
  • In reply to Lesley:

    Hi Lesley

    That makes complete sense to me, and would be my preference to be honest. I'm just too eager to get back to work I guess?

    I'm experienced in shared services with a 80/20 payroll/HR balance experience-wise. My strengths are in process improvement and change management, along with employee training and development. Roles I was in before were Process Improvement Manager, Payroll Manager, HR Manager.

    I do have some connections from past jobs, but most of my roles were in the one company sole these connections are limited (to a certain degree) - and unfortunately there isn't anything available at the moment.

    I haven't considered applying for Access to Work, primarily because I already have a disabled concessionary bus pass - and didn't think I would be elligible for any additional travel support. Although I knew about the potential additional support in finding a role, when I initially had to make a claim for Employment & Support Allowance (when unfit for work initially), and had to attend a work related interview with JobCentre Plus - the advice I was given by the advisor was shocking!!! - In fact, she turned to me and said that I could probably advise her a thing or two! (I obviously smiled poiltely, and acted very professionally) - this experience put me off applying for the additional "support".
  • In reply to Helen:

    Hi Helen

    Interview seemed to go really well actually. Role also plays to my project experience, so have everything crossed. Will hopefully hear something next week.

    There is actually a small local charity (that I hadn't thought of before), I'll drop them a call next week to see if there is anything I can help with - as there's nothing showing on their vacancies at the moment.

    Thank you :-)