Main Areas to Overcome as a Job Seeker Trying to Return to the Workforce
While it’s been some time since you left the workforce and the thought of making a return now seems plausible, the task at hand comes across as daunting. This is common and what many worry over is the resume. There are questions like:
- What do I do about my lack of current work experience?
- What do I do about my lack of current skills?
- How can I convince employers I’m ready for a return to the workforce?
These are legitimate concerns to have as they are also the typical questions employers will go through as they review a candidate of this type for the job. The guidance offered below will help you address these matters.
First, assess your desire to return to work and where you want to go.
To successfully transition back to work, you must have the self-desire to do so. Understand the reason for wanting to return to work now. Is it for money? Is it because you want to continue pursuing professional achievements? Is it to keep yourself occupied now that life at home requires less of your attention?
Understanding the reason behind your desire to return to work will lay the foundation to how and where you should pursue opportunities. For some people, there may be a desire to continue in the field where they left off (but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can continue where you left off – there may be the need to back track). For others, there may be the desire to pursue another career path or one that allows for more work-life balance. The priority may no longer be about money or even the type of career, but simply the desire to maintain a balance between life and work. As an individual seeking to return to work, you must have a clear understanding of your desires and priorities to know what the next right job is.
Second, dust off the resume and get it ready for prime time.
If you’ve held down a job on the side or volunteered during this time, that can help you showcase that you still have current work experience and skills. If you are in a situation where you don’t have any of that, consider taking a class at the local community college to sharpen your skills or volunteering some place within the same field or industry as what you want to pursue. This will help soften the career gap on your resume and show employers that you have maintained a level of professional experience and skills.
And, even if you choose not to freshen your experience and skills, it’s okay to be honest about your situation and let the resume stand on its own with your previous experience. However, if you’re going to do that, it’s highly recommended that you seek the help of your professional network. Having someone in the same profession or industry who can vouch for you as a referral can make a huge difference in your job search results. Employers tend to give preference to candidates referred by existing employees because there’s less risk. So, even if you haven’t held a FT job in the profession in recent years many employers can look past it when you have a respected professional backing you up and speaking highly of their past work experiences with you. For more tips to resume writing, read: “Questions to Ask That’ll Help You Get Started on Resume Writing.”
Third, show you’re ready for a return.
A huge fear employers have with bringing in someone just returning to the workforce is the risk of them later finding out they aren’t ready for it. To avoid this notion, it’s important to come out confident and honest. Inform the employer that you have given it careful consideration, have the support of your family, and have made the necessary arrangements to allow you to fully commit to the job.
There are also other things you can do months in advance of the job search to lay the ground work and show proof of your commitment to return. We mentioned earlier the option of investing in additional education and training. These are things you can highlight to the employer when discussing their concerns. It’s also important to start expanding your professional network months is advance and sharing industry news and ideas. Employers will look beyond the resume to your online footprint like your activities on LinkedIn and Twitter. Who are you connecting with? What information are you sharing? Are you associated with industry groups? These are all things that will help build a foundation showing employers you’re committed and have a passion/interest in pursuing a career in that direction.
While you now have the steps to help ready yourself for a return to the workforce, the job search process may not come easy. You need a job search plan that will help you plan your efforts and allocate your time wisely. For more information, read: “Best Job Search Advice: Building a Job Search Plan.”