Whether you have taken time off to raise a young family, were unable to work due to an injury or have been unemployed for any reason, returning to the workforce after extended leave can be intimidating. Your concerns about new technology, skills needed in your field and the gap on your resume are valid but there are things you can do that will help get your career back on track.
- Evaluate your career and make a plan. Think carefully about what your pervious career entailed and the reasons you left. You may find that this field of work no longer interests you or doesn’t fit your current lifestyle. If that’s the case, you’ll want to research other potential fields that may suit you better. Whether you decide to return to a job similar to the one you held previously or embark on a new path, have a plan that lays out the steps you’ll need to find and land the job you want. The following tips can help you get there.
- Brush up on your skills. With technology changing rapidly, you may feel that you are lacking the skills you need to get noticed. From computer basics to industry-specific training, look for courses that offer transferable and stackable credentials – weekly workshops are a great place to start. When added to your resume, these qualifications will show employers you have what it takes to get the job done. Once you’ve landed the job and start working, you’ll find you have the skills and confidence to excel.
- Create an impactful resume. To get the interview, your resume must outshine others. Use creative formatting to focus the attention on your skills and personal value, drawing attention away from your large employment gap. Put the emphasis on you, not on your career timeline by highlighting your experience and accomplishments. It’s also important to think about things you may have done during your hiatus such as volunteering that may translate well to a new job. These types of activities show initiative and a commitment to a better community – traits that almost any employer will value.
- Network. We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Cliché as it may sound, this is true. When you’ve decided to head back to work, commit to putting yourself out there. Think about who you know and who they may be connected to. Let them know of your plans and ask them for leads and introductions. You can also attend local networking mixers where you’ll meet people in various industries. Be sure to collect business cards so you can follow up and check in on any job prospects.
- Nail the interview. You’re scheduled for an interview! You’ve gotten through the toughest part and now it’s all about showing the hiring manager why you’re the best person for the job. Dress for success and practice, practice, practice. Find a friend or family member and rehearse answering all kinds of questions you may be asked. The majority of questions will be about your experience and skills but you should also be ready to answer personal questions that show off your personality. We like this list from Monster.com.
- Plan for success. Once you have the job, the work is only beginning. Have a plan in place that will allow you to make a great first impression and get started on the right foot. Get started with a new work wardrobe on a budget by shopping second-hand at your local Goodwill. Be sure to have a plan in place for childcare if you need it and try to eliminate other stressors and obligations in the first few months so you can focus on getting acclimated to working again.
As you’re trying to re-enter the workforce, remember that there are many people doing the same and it isn’t as daunting as it may seem. Following these tips will help you prepare and be confident every step of the way. Job Link Centers also offers one-on-one help with job searches, resume writing, interview skills and more.