A Proven 10-Step Process for Re-Entering the Workforce After an Extended Gap
Re-entering the workforce after taking extended time off, whether to write a book, be a stay-at-home mom (or dad) or travel the world, can feel overwhelming, but with some planning and preparation, you can successfully navigate the job market. Here's a step-by-step guide from J. Tedesco & Associates retained executive search to help you get started:
1. Self-assessment: Begin by reflecting on your skills, strengths, and interests. Identify the type of job or industry you would like to pursue. Consider your previous work experience, education, and any new skills you may have acquired during your time off.
2. Update your resume: Revise your resume to highlight your relevant skills, accomplishments, and experiences. Include any volunteer work, freelance projects, or part-time jobs you may have undertaken during your break. Some examples could include helping to chair events at your child’s school or utilizing an old law degree to provide counsel to a friend. Focus on transferable skills such as organization, multitasking, problem-solving, and communication.
3. Networking: Reach out to your existing network of contacts, including friends, family, former colleagues, and acquaintances. Inform them that you are actively seeking a job and ask if they have any leads or recommendations. Attend industry-related events, seminars, and workshops in any industries that appeal to you to expand your knowledge and professional network, and to meet potential employers.
4. Continuous learning: Stay updated with industry trends and enhance your skills through online courses, certifications, or workshops, which can be a great intermediary step before transitioning back into the workforce. Demonstrating a commitment to lifelong learning can make you a more attractive candidate to potential employers.
5. Online presence: Establish a professional online presence by creating or updating your LinkedIn profile. Use this platform to connect with professionals in your desired field, join relevant groups, and showcase your skills and expertise. Clean up your social media profiles to present a positive image to potential employers.
6. Leverage job board platforms: Utilize online job boards, such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, and company websites, to find job openings. Customize your searches based on your preferences, location, and desired job criteria. Set up email alerts to receive notifications for relevant job postings. Once you find a position that interests you, it is commonplace to submit an application (resume etc); however it is often more fruitful to reach out to someone in your network at that company, and ask them to convey your interest to the hiring manager or internal recruiter, thereby reducing the risk that your resume will get screened out through a company’s key word-focused, recruitment platform (called an application tracking system).
7. Research and preparation: Before applying to any job (or contacting someone at the company about a job), research the company and the position thoroughly. Understand their values, culture, and mission to tailor your application accordingly. Prepare for interviews by practicing common interview questions and preparing examples of how your skills and experience align with the job requirements.
8. Returnship programs: Some companies offer returnship programs designed to help individuals who have taken a career break transition back into the workforce. These programs provide training, mentorship, and work experience. Research if there are any returnship programs available in your industry of interest.
9. Flexibility and part-time options: Consider easing back into the workforce by exploring part-time or flexible job opportunities. Such arrangements can help you balance your responsibilities as a parent while re-establishing your professional career. Look for companies that offer remote work options or flexible schedules.
10. Interviewing: When invited for an interview, prepare by researching common interview questions and practicing your responses. Highlight your transferable skills (this is key!), such as your ability to multitask, and problem-solving capabilities gained during your time as a mom or the multi-cultural appreciation you may have gained by traveling the world. Whether an in person or video interview, dress professionally and arrive on time. If video, ensure you have a quiet and well-lit space.
Remember, the job search process may take time, so stay positive, persistent, and patient. Each rejection or setback is an opportunity to learn and improve your approach. With determination and the right strategy, you can find a job that aligns with your skills, interests, and personal goals.