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Figuring out how to get back into the workforce after extended time off can be frustrating. Many employers want to hire candidates with recent work experience, and if you don’t have that, the job hunt can be extremely daunting.

While it may appear as if you’re stuck in a perpetual state of unemployment, there are many ways to get back into the workforce after extended time off. Here are four paths to explore:

1. Stay Active

One of the most important things to do when you’re trying to get back into the workforce after extended time off is to stay active. If you’re not working for a salary, try volunteering with a local charity or at a local community center.

Staying active in your community will give you something to put on your resume in place of your employment gap. If your last position ended years ago, your resume may be overlooked simply because there is nothing current on it. However, if you start volunteering, you can use that to fill in the time when you weren’t working.

Volunteering can also help you network more extensively. You never know whom you’ll meet! A study from the Corporation for National and Community Service found that volunteering is associated with 27 percent higher odds of employment.

2. Network

According to research from Glassdoor, referrals are associated with a 2.6-6.6 percent higher chance of an accepted job offer. This is why networking matters. Reach out to recruiters, friends, and industry professionals to let them know you’re looking for a position. People can’t help you find a new role unless they know you’re in the market! It’s a very small world, and you never know who might have an industry connection or information on an upcoming availability.

Go out and get coffee with friends or family in your industry. Pick their brains. Ask if they have any suggestions for how to brush up on your skills and get back into the workforce. They may know of an opportunity you can use to boost your resume or skill set.

Similarly, reach out to recruiters. People have this notion that it’s better to get a job on your own than to work with a recruiter, but that’s not true. Recruiters often have inside knowledge about positions that haven’t been posted to the public. They also interact directly with hiring managers and can get your resume in front of the right people faster.

screenHow do you get in touch with a recruiter? Do a simple Google search or look for recruiters on LinkedIn. Recruiters are always looking for strong candidates, so if you reach out and highlight your motivation or skills, they will almost always be willing to help with your job search.

3. Take a Class

Are you volunteering and networking but still find yourself with extra time on your hands? Take the opportunity to learn a new skill or brush up on your old skills by taking a course.

If you want to get out of the house, look into community college courses. Don’t want to make that sort of commitment? Go for online courses, which you can complete at your own pace. Platforms like Lynda.com charge a small monthly fee and offer courses in many different areas. They’re all video-based and let you finish them at your convenience.

Aside from giving you something to do, taking a class or two gives you the opportunity to add more to your resume. Have you noticed that a lot of the positions you want to apply for require knowledge of a specific software? Take a class so you can showcase your familiarity with the software on your resume!

4. Explore Contract and Temporary Positions

While temporary and contract positions seem to have negative connotations, they can open many doors for you. Contract and temporary work can help you in the following ways:

- It will give you current work to put on your resume.
- It allows you to earn immediate income while you’re searching for a long-term position.
- It lets you network with industry professionals.
- It gives you the opportunity to show off your capabilities.

While it’s not always smart to take a position in an industry or on a path in which you’re not interested, temporary work gives you the opportunity to explore your options and networking opportunities.

Getting back to work after a long absence from the workforce can be intimidating, but there are many ways to accomplish this goal. The most important things are to stay active and highlight your skills and abilities. Don’t stagnate and wallow in your sorrows. Take charge of your life, get out there, and make something happen!

A version of this article originally appeared on Write Styles.

Michele Lando is a certified professional resume writer and the founder of Write Styles.



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