How to Get Back into the Workforce After a Break
You may have taken some time off to raise your kids. Maybe you’re a veteran returning to the civilian workforce. Or maybe you were part of the great resignation (i.e., you quit your job because it was just that bad). Whatever the reason for your break from the workforce, getting back in might be a little intimidating. Here are ten tips to help make the transition smoother.
Take an honest inventory of your skills and experience.
Think about it from the lens of a potential employer. What skills do you currently have that would be applicable in the workforce? What experience do you have that would make you an asset to a potential employer? Be realistic in your assessment; if there are skills or experience gaps, don’t try to hide them. Instead, focus on what you can do and what value you can bring to a company. If you’ve been out of the workforce for several years, consider taking a class or two to brush up on your skills or learn some new ones.
Polish your interview skills and learn from interview experiences.
One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to practice, practice, practice. Have a friend or family member ask you common interview questions and role-play until you feel confident in your answers. Interviewers often ask for examples of how you handle challenges, work with others, and solve problems under pressure. Having relevant anecdotes prepared can help ease those interview jitters.
As you begin to land those first interviews, take good notes, including what questions came up. You might walk away with a clear idea of where to improve in preparation for the next opportunity. If you aren’t sure why you aren’t moving forward, it’s perfectly fine to ask your recruiter for feedback so that you can better align going forward. You might not always get the answer you’re hoping for, but the best recruiters are working on your behalf and will offer feedback if the interviewer cooperates.
Prepare to explain the value of your time away from work.
When you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, potential employers may question why you took time off and what value you can bring to their company. Be prepared to answer these questions confidently and succinctly.
Network, network, network.
One of the best ways to find a job is through networking. No matter how brilliant or qualified you are, it’s always helpful to know someone on the inside when looking for a job. Talk to friends, family, and former coworkers; they might know someone who’s hiring or be able to put in a good word for you. Take a look at Fishbowl; it’s a great tool for finding people who can refer you to jobs. Also, consider joining relevant professional organizations in your industry; they can be great resources for job seekers and an extension of your professional network.
Set Up Alerts on Job Boards to Help Recruiters Find You.
When you apply to a job on a board like Indeed, CareerBuilder, or Monster, you can sign up for alerts or their talent network. By setting preferences, you’ll receive regular emails on available jobs that match. Equiliem Recruiting Manager Scott Basarab says, “When you apply for jobs through a job board, recruiters see when you were last active. Recent activity helps recruiters know that you are currently on the hunt for a new job.”
Leverage LinkedIn to build rapport.
LinkedIn job posts often include information about the recruiter or hiring manager who posted the position. Don’t be afraid to reach out with a friendly direct message. LinkedIn also has a variety of networks and group pages. Say, for example, that you’re looking for a job in Human Resources. Search under groups for “human resources” to discover the organizations and networks where like-minded professionals hang out. Many of these groups have their own pages filled with job postings.
Search for skills as well as job titles and descriptions.
Make the job board algorithm work for you by giving it more to search on. For example, do you have SAP or Oracle experience? Searching on specific skills, licenses, and certifications will bring up job postings that include those requirements.
Consider contract assignments.
Contract assignments can be a great way to ease back into working full-time without committing to a permanent position right away. Some assignments are contract-to-hire, with the opportunity for direct hire if all goes well for a predetermined length of time. Even if a contract opportunity doesn’t result in direct employment, it provides you with experience and increases your network of professional friends who can help.
Embrace change with fresh anticipation.
A positive attitude always adds to your “total package.” People like working with others who bring genuine curiosity and excitement to their work. Yes, you’ve got to be prepared to learn new skills; the workplace, its tools, and technologies have likely changed if you’ve been out for a few months or more. If you approach new challenges as opportunities for growth, you’ll find that doors often open.
Be true to you.
Time away from work often helps clarify what is most important to you. Finding a job that suits you makes for a much better fit than attempting to dress for a part that isn’t aligned with your career goals and professional aspirations. Do you have a personal mission statement? Consider framing your skills and how you intend to make the world a better place in a few short sentences. Do the words resonate with both your head and your heart? Boil it down. Simplicity helps you get clear, so you won’t waste time pursuing jobs that don’t align with who you really are. And, when an offer is presented, you can circle back to your mission statement and easily know if it’s a yes for you or a “No, thanks.”
Taking some time off from work is nothing to be ashamed of—life happens! But when it’s time to get back into the workforce, it’s important to prepare to present the best version of yourself and to have a clear picture in mind of the professional you aspire to become. Invest some time in the process. Know what you have to offer. Be ready to articulate that with pride. Then, when you are ready, step forward with confidence.
Equiliem (www.equiliem.com) believes in empowering success. It’s our job to cultivate relationships that connect people and employers in a way that is inclusive, intelligent, and allows both to thrive.
Across the U.S., leading companies in healthcare, government, light industrial manufacturing, professional services, and energy rely on us for their workforce solutions. Our recruiting and HR services include contract and direct hire staffing, Payrolling/EOR, Independent Contractor Compliance, and Managed Services.
Since 1995, we’ve helped shape our industry. Today, we continue to research, ask questions, and continuously enhance the candidate journey and client experience.