Many people are part of the “career relaunch” pool, where they struggle to figure out how to re-enter the workforce after taking time to go back to school, raise children, care for family members etc. Many find re-entry to former career levels nearly impossible, but with a strategic plan and strong job search focus, it is possible to land a new job, even if you’ve been out of the workforce for several years. Here are some tips:
Evaluate what you want to do professionally: Perhaps you’d like to re-enter the workforce doing the same type of job you had before you left. Maybe your feelings about your profession have changed since you last worked and you’d prefer to shift into a new field or role. It’s impossible to land a job before you have a clear vision of what you want to do. You should spend time identifying your goals so you have a clear endpoint in mind.
Commit to your choice personally: If there are long hours or travel involved, make sure you’re prepared to manage those aspects of the position when you do land a job. It’s not wise to decide to figure it out later. Plan ahead and apply for positions you know you would be happy doing. Always have realistic expectations and criteria for evaluating opportunities.
Understand your skills: Make a list of your expertise from previous jobs, community commitments and any volunteer work you’ve done. Narrow down your top skills and determine what words employers would use to find someone like you to hire. These keywords should populate your résumé and online profiles.
Avoid time gaps on your résumé and online profiles: Fill the gaps in your résumé with strategic volunteering and contract work. Note the word 'strategic' – look for opportunities that are relevant to the career you want to pursue or will help build skills you are lacking. Résumé gaps are better than irrelevant fluff.
Network: Network at the grocery store, at the gym and at professional events. Don’t bombard your friends with requests for referrals to jobs. Focus instead on letting people know you are ready to re-engage in the workforce. For example, let your friends know you’re reading industry news and plugging back into your professional background. Use social media tools to let your network know when you attend professional events and to share insights people who might want to hire you would appreciate.
Look for steppingstones: Your first job when you re-enter the workforce may not meet every single standard you desire, but look at its long-term potential and whether it will get you closer to your ideal career. Incorporate growth potential as a factor when evaluating a possible job. Maybe it is a step or two back from where you’d like to be, but if the company is growing and you anticipate impressing your superiors, you’ll be well on your way to a successful relaunch.