The Decision to Go Back to Work
There are plenty of reasons why you might choose to take a few years off from work. Perhaps you've chosen to stay home and care for your children, or there was a need for you to stay with an aging parent during the day instead of working. Maybe you spent several years immersed in volunteer work or spent the past several years in the military instead of the civilian workforce. Whatever the case, that season of your life is over--and that means that it's time to re-enter the workforce. While it may feel daunting, you can return to work successfully.
Updating Your Resume
What have you been doing during the years when you weren't working? While a military career may have aspects that translate well to the civilian workforce, returning to work after two, five, or more years as a stay-at-home mom may leave you feeling as though those years left you with nothing to offer a prospective employer. Instead of giving in to that gloom, consider these key questions as you rebuild your resume:
- Did you do any volunteer work that was relevant to your career while you were gone from the workforce?
- How did those volunteer experiences translate as relevant job experience?
- Did you do any freelancing or consulting during your time off work?
- What skills did you gain during those years out of work?
You can also conceal the time gap on your resume by creating a skills-based resume instead of a chronological one. Time spent out of the workforce may be valuable, but you must convey that well to an employer!
Updating Your Skills
Whether you've been gone from the workforce for a single year or ten, chances are, technology has moved forward without you. Take the time to update critical skills for your job. Learn any new computer skills that are relevant. If possible, gain some experience with the software that's most prevalent in your industry. When you update your skills, you show potential employers that you're still learning and that you can still offer valuable contributions to your field.
Go Back to School?
Going back to school is one great way to launch yourself into a new career. It will give you current industry knowledge, allow you to network, and help prepare you for your new work schedule. Going back to school, however, isn't the only way to re-enter the workforce no matter how long you've been gone. If you're considering furthering your education, ask yourself these questions:
- Can you learn something by going back to school that will help you break into a new field?
- Are you planning to drastically change your career?
- Will increased knowledge and education significantly further your career plans?
Keep in mind that going back to school is often expensive and will delay your return to the workforce. You should only go back if it offers benefits to your career plan, rather than simply delaying your return.
One of the critical steps to finding a new job is networking. Let people know that you're looking for a job! You never know when an acquaintance will be the one to help you get your foot in the door with a new company. In addition to that, attend relevant gatherings for your industry. Talk to people, pass out business cards, and develop relationships. It will make it easier to find the right job when the time is right.
How to Job Hunt
You've prepared your resume, updated your skills, and spread the word that you're job hunting. Now, how are you supposed to find that open door?
- Look for your ideal job, then put yourself out there! Decide what your dream job would be, then take the steps necessary to acquire it. Be willing to step outside your comfort zone. You can even apply to companies that don't have an open position--just understand that you may not receive an immediate response.
- Post your resume on Monster, Indeed, Dice, Idealist, LinkUp, and other relevant job sites. Don't forget to check out the top niche job websites also. Keep in mind, however, that online job searches and online applications can be time consuming and even unsuccessful at times, so don't make that your only method of job hunting. Two other tips: We highly recommend creating a new email address to utilize during your job search as you may receive numerous emails in response to your posted resume, some of which will be false or misleading job offers. You will also need to keep a close watch on your Spam because sometimes legitimate follow up emails and/or job offers from straight up companies will get booted there.
- Network! Utilize LinkedIn and Facebook. Contact companies you'd like to work for and let them know that you're interested in an open position with them. Connect with people inside the company if possible so they can let you know if a position opens up. Also, don't forget to let your friends and family know that you are job hunting as closer connections make the best referrals.
- Consider using an advocate who will work for you such as a headhunter, a staffing agency, or even your local WIN Job Center. Many agencies are connected to jobs that are not open to the public. They'll also work with you to understand your current skills without placing as much emphasis on that job gap.
- Be patient! Heading back to the workforce won't happen overnight, but when it does, you'll be grateful for the effort you put in.
If you're ready to head back to the workforce after a gap in employment, contact us! Brannon Professionals will work to connect you with potential employers and make your return to the workforce easier.