Jumping back into the workforce after a hiatus can feel like volunteering to skydive without a parachute. While you may experience some uncomfortable symptoms – sweaty palms, a queasy stomach, or a pounding pulse – there are ways to set yourself up for success as you prepare to re-enter the working world. Whether you took a break from your daily grind to earn your master’s degree, raise a family, or pursue a once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunity, starting a new job search can feel a bit intimidating. To help you renew your confidence and inject a newfound pep in your job search step, here are 5 ways to get yourself ready to rejoin the workforce.
Create a Killer Resume
While updating your resume may not be as appealing as binge-watching the latest season of Luke Cage on Netflix, it’s a large determinant of whether or not you will advance to the interview process. In addition to showcasing your work experience, get creative and include any relevant volunteer work, special projects, or classes you attended during your hiatus as a way to demonstrate how you proactively invest in expanding your skills and the value you place in professional development. You can even quantify the responsibilities or successes of your volunteer work to show how your work had a measurable impact on the outcome of that project. For example, if you were in charge of ticket sales for a bake sale fundraiser, you could illustrate how your social media efforts or email marketing blasts resulted in a 15% increase in ticket sales compare to last year.
Establish Your Goals
Do you want to be a career-changer and break into a new industry? Or, if you decide to pursue a role similar to your previous one, are you willing to take a step back for the right opportunity? What elements are most important to you? – i.e. flexible hours, a collaborative environment, a robust training and development program, etc. These are a few of the questions you should be asking yourself as you begin your quest to land a new role.
Whether it’s been a few months or a few years since you last sat in a cubicle, no job search is complete without conducting a bit of research. Understanding workplace trends, what type of opportunities are in high demand, and where our ever-evolving market stands, will help you establish a clear picture of what type of cultural offerings, benefits packages, roles, and responsibilities are available to you. Doing some internet sleuthing is an essential part of pinpointing what kind of job opportunities best align with your background and interests.
Boost Your Employability
Delivering a high level of value in the workplace and enjoying a competitive advantage over other applicants will require you to keep your skills up-to-date. From technology-related developments to newly passed laws, spending even a year away from the workplace can create a level of disconnect between the types of qualifications employers desire and where your expertise currently lies. This may equate to gaining a new certification, signing up for industry-specific courses through sites like Udemy, or simply doing some self-guided learning by picking up a relevant book. Investing in yourself and brushing up on your skills is a great way to communicate your drive, adaptability, and work ethic to potential employers.
Explore Temporary Opportunities
The labor market can be extremely competitive. By leveraging temporary and freelance opportunities, however, you can break into your desired field, test-drive different types of roles, and strengthen your resume by diversifying your skills. The brief duration of temporary assignments is ideal for anyone re-entering the workforce who would like to gain exposure to varying management styles, internal cultures, or daily responsibilities, to ultimately determine the type of position or environment that’s most compatible with your needs. Through contract-to-hire roles, you have the opportunity to convert to a full-time, permanent employee after a specified period of time, which is a great route to take if you’d like to get your foot in the door with a certain employer or particular industry.
Although mingling with strangers may be a bit nerve-wracking at times, it’s a highly valuable strategy for reigniting your career after being out of the workforce. From tapping into your existing pool of relationships (i.e family, old coworkers, and friends) to forging new relationships with industry professionals, vocalizing your career goals and connecting with others can accelerate your job search and introduce you to opportunities that may have never crossed your path otherwise.
Whether schmoozing is your middle name or you’re more of an introvert, there’s an arsenal of ways to start reaping the benefits of networking: join an industry association, attend networking events, or sign up for local workshops and seminars specific to your field of interest. Don’t forget to also explore digital channels, such as LinkedIn. Join social groups that align with your areas of interest, actively share relevant (and professional) content, and engage in conversations with your network to start establishing yourself among your peers.
If you’re re-entering the workforce after taking time off from your career, your hiatus doesn’t have to define you. By doing a bit of preparation, you’ll not only begin to regain your confidence, but you’ll be able to better communicate your value to potential employers. Don’t sweat it, you got this.