Returning to the workforce can feel intimidating. Here are some tips to help you make the transition.
Reentering the workforce after a long absence is an intimidating undertaking and the longer the absence the scarier it is. During that time, your industry changes and so do you. But I’ve helped many mid-career professionals get back in the game and you can too.
It doesn’t matter whether you left the workforce to raise children, travel, or for personal reasons such as caring for a sick relative. If you’re mulling over how to reenter the workforce, the same simple steps can be used to help anyone get back on track.
Step One: Reassess your interests
If you’ve been out of the workforce for 10 years, you’re more than likely not the same person you were when you left. Traveling the world or caring for a child are both life-changing experiences that require the development of new skills. Before jumping immediately back into the career you left, think about whether that path still interests you. Networking is a great place to start. Consider if that career is still appropriate in the context of your current strengths. Don’t be afraid to contemplate moving into a different field.
Step Two: Brush up on your skills
Once you know what field you’d like to focus on, check in on your skill set. New computer programs may have become the standard in that industry. Or your financial modeling chops could be a bit rusty. Take classes and subscribe to industry blogs to make sure that when an interviewer asks you if you’re ready to hit the ground running you can confidently say yes and mean it. Working with a recruiter who is a specialist in your field can also be helpful. He or she will be able to expertly guide you in preparing for job interviews.
Step Three: Build your self-confidence
If you don’t believe in yourself then there’s no way you can sell yourself. Brushing up on your skills helps but then it’s all about building your confidence. In addition to preparing for the standard interview questions, consider the questions you might be asked about returning to the workforce. Rehearse those responses in a mock interview until you feel confident about answering them. A resume gap is nothing to be ashamed of and can end up being a great, relatable talking point.
Step Four: Restructure your resume
A chronological resume is the gold standard so candidates reentering the workforce sometimes make the terrible mistake of fudging dates to cover up gaps. Always be honest about your career timeline and plug what you were doing into the resume like any other position to avoid a mystery gap. I like a lighthearted title like “Household CEO” for returning mothers or “World Traveler” for those who have taken time off to see the world. Then use your cover letter to address your unique story.
Step Five: Network, network, network
Your professional network is probably out of date so refreshing it is hugely important to identifying career opportunities. Get back in touch with old colleagues. Dig into your alumni network. Look for connections among other parents at your children’s school. No contact information? No problem. LinkedIn is an incredible tool for tracking down contacts and reaching out to refresh old ties or for new ones.
Now you’re all set to start landing interviews and ultimately get back on the career track.
Have you had experience reentering the work force? Tell us what strategies helped you succeed.
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