Careers do not always follow a straight path. We may stop out of work to raise a family, care for an aging parent or rehab from an illness. If you have been out of the workforce for a number of years and are looking to return to work you know the challenges of re-entry.
Marketing yourself successfully and convincing employers of your value are two of the biggest challenges you face as a re-entry worker, not to mention maintaining your self-confidence as you tackle a competitive job market.
What is the best way to conduct a job search after a lengthy absence?
Stay current. Depending on how long you have been away from work, you may find a totally different landscape when you return. Find out what has been happening in your industry/field since you have been away. You can uncover industry trends and data by doing research. Check out Huffington Post and Forbes or Flipboard a mobile app for your phone, which let’s you customize article feeds and organize them by topic. And take a look at eBizMBA’s Top 15 Most Popular News Websites.
Join a professional association. A great way to find out what is happening in your industry is to join a professional association and attend their meetings, presentations and seminars. Check out Wikipedia’s directory of professional associations to locate one in your career field.
Get comfortable with ‘not knowing’. We live in a technology – driven world, which means the skills we learned and relied on to propel us through our careers even a decade ago are probably outdated. Edward D. Hess, a professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business suggests, “how much we know will be irrelevant because machines and the Internet will always know more than we will”. The key is to know what we don’t know and be comfortable with learning.
Ramp up your network. Chances are if you been out of work for a while, you have allowed your professional network to atrophy. No worries. Get back on LinkedIn; update your profile and let your network know you are back in the saddle. Use those professional association meetings to build your network. And if the thought of networking is keeping you in the house all day, I strongly recommend you read Devora Zack’s book, ‘Networking for People Who Hate Networking’. You need to get out there!
Convey your value to employers. Though you have been out of the workforce for a while, you have kept busy with other commitments that could easily translate into value added skills and experience that would be attractive to an employer.
Take an inventory of any success stories associated with volunteer work or caretaking roles. Did you volunteer at your child’s school? Just because you didn’t get paid doesn’t mean your accomplishments hold less value. Write them down and talk about them. Going through this exercise is a good way to boost your self – esteem and build confidence.
One parent I know was instrumental in introducing a program for special needs children at her child’s school. She was so successful, the school created a position for her. Think about how you have made a difference while you took time off from your career. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.