What happens after returning to work from a long leave of absence?

ashleyJustinBradley Recruiter Ashley Fletcher shares her experience on returning to the workforce after an extended leave of absence, and shares some tips on how to make the transition as smooth as possible. 


A number of things could require us to take an absence, whether it’s personal or professional, yet ultimately we all return and ask the same question. It was on my mind when I returned to JustinBradley after being gone for 10 months of training with the Air Force.

I was excited, nervous, and had no idea what to expect in transitioning from a very structured military schedule and chaotic environment in the emergency room, to sitting behind a desk dressed in a business suit interacting with civilians. One thing the military taught me was to “adapt and overcome” any given situation and I knew I could use that in my career at JustinBradley.

The night before my first day back into the office I was overwhelmed with emotions, not sure how the first day would go or even what I was going to wear. I went from an environment where I was told what to do and what to wear to an office setting where I made my own decisions again.  Although somewhat hesitant, I was ready to return “home” and jump-start my financial recruiting practice which focuses on government contractors.

Was the transition challenging, sure! Did I question certain phrases I would use amongst my military colleagues and cater it to accounting and finance professionals, yes! I’m not going to say it was easy, but I will say this: when you enjoy your job, no matter if it is two entirely different career fields, you will give it your full attention and effort- adapting to change will come naturally.

When returning from a leave of absence, you bring a new outlook and set of experiences that are invaluable to your previous position. No matter what your reason for taking a leave of absence, ultimately, when you return, you will have something unique to offer. Personally, I found I was more thoughtful in my words to others, I approached situations in a different manner and I carried myself with a new self-found confidence.

Upon returning, whether I was speaking to a client for the first time or conducting an interview with a candidate, my training with the Air Force reminded me to always stay calm and perform to the best of your ability. Every hesitation I felt before my first day back was overcome with the strong support and help from my colleagues. The power of teamwork is tremendous and you don’t realize it until you are in a situation that requires you to rely on others. I relied on fellow airman as I was going through basic training and medic school. I found myself in a similar situation when returning back to the office, relying on my colleagues to help me get back up to speed in my practice.

For anyone that takes a leave of absence, a few key things to remember upon returning:

It is OK to feel nervous, fear of the unknown is natural.

Your team is crucial to helping you succeed – don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Although transitioning back takes time, it is 100% worth it- you have a whole new skill set to offer.

Learn and grow a little bit each day and celebrate the small victories; they will take you far!

Continue to challenge yourself, you will only get better.

Looking back, I wouldn’t change one thing thus far. I think I am a better-rounded individual – and professional Recruiter – who can offer not only a different perspective but a re-charged attitude and drive to my team.

Ashley Fletcher joined JustinBradley in 2014. As a Financial Recruiter, she works with clients in the government contracting and commercial real estate sectors. 

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