Occasionally, I work with individuals who are re-entering the job market after taking a break for one reason or another. The reasons vary: the birth of a child, providing care to an aging parent, helping a child or spouse through a life-threatening illness or recovering from career burn-out. Regardless of the reason, taking time out from one’s career can take a toll on one’s finances, skills and confidence. These insecurities often make getting back into the job market hard; harder than we expect or our friends and peers can imagine.
Here are some suggestions to make the process easier.
Do your homework.Research what it is going to take to get back in the market. Identify potential employers and the skills or expertise they need and expect. Retool if necessary.
Get clear about your narrative.Be honest with yourself. What’s your story? Why haven’t you been working? You must be ready to address this question whether you are asked it or not. Believe me, it is on the employer’s mind.
Frame your response in a way that is relevant to potential employers. “I took five years off to give my twin daughters a solid foundation before they started kindergarten. I am proud to say they entered school in September and I am ready to pick up where I left off with my career. In preparation for that I took on a volunteer role as finance manager for the local women’s shelter.” Or, “I was caretaker for my wife when she battled cancer. I am happy to say she beat the odds. Since her recovery I’ve earned my series 7 and series 64 licenses and am looking forward to sharing my expertise with potential clients.”
Don’t sell yourself short.Recently, a client said to me, “I’m not very good at X.” Really? I was incredulous because several of his work accomplishments indicated just the opposite. Examine the internal record you are playing. Get input from a trusted friend, colleague, or professional. If it’s not accurate develop a new playbook.
Identify your areas of expertise and get your marketing materials in order.You can’t sell value if you don’t know what you are selling. Don’t go mucking around in the job market until you have identified what you are selling and package it. At a minimum, that means creating a professional résumé and developing a branded LinkedIn profile.
Reconnect with and build your network.One of my clients who was out of the job market for a couple of years was reluctant to approach her former colleagues. She was embarrassed about being out of commission for so long. When I finally convinced her to reach out to a few of her old co-workers she was surprised and relieved to discover they were delighted to hear from her. It was through those contacts that she landed her new job.
Brush up on your interview skills.Learning what questions to expect and how to share your qualifications and expertise with confidence takes practice. Role play with friends, attend job fairs and company open houses. Do what it takes to get comfortable talking about the value your bring to potential employers.
Above all, don’t give up on yourself!
Dreading you next interview? My Interview Success package offers one-on-one practice addressing the questions you most fear. http://www.careercoachmonterey.com/services/
© 2018 Mary Jeanne Vincent. All rights reserved.