Whether it’s been a few years or a few months since your days in the working world, finding a new job after a time lapse can be intimidating. Many candidates who take time off to continue their educations, raise a family, or travel often struggle with where to begin their job searches. Getting back in the game is a challenge, but proving you’re qualified for a job is easier than you might think.
By following a few simple guidelines, you can use your resume gap to your favor and re-enter the work force in no time!
1. Evaluate and Assess Your Current Situation
Reflect on your decision to return to work. David Gilcher, lead resource manager at Kavaliro, says, “You need to know why you are returning to the workforce and when you want to start working again before going into a job interview. It’s important to note whether or not you have responsibilities that need to be adjusted with your return.”
It’s important to understand that there are reasons to go back to work beyond financial need. If you take a look at what a company offers beyond the paycheck, you will be more motivated to get back to work. It could be as simple as having more responsibilities in your life or interacting with and helping other people.
2. Take a Look at Your Resume
If you’ve been out of the job market for just a few months, getting back to work can be an easy transition. Be prepared to answer why you left the workforce before you go in for an interview. Be honest when it comes to your resume and list the skills you can perform. If you’ve attended classes or continued using your skills, be sure to include that information on your resume.
If you have been out of work for a year or longer, you’ll have a larger gap to jump when it comes to returning to work. Be forthcoming with your attributes and set up a plan to strengthen your skills as you’re going through your return to work.
It’s important to make sure that your materials are up-to-date as well. Your resume will most likely be sent electronically, so be sure to have an electronic copy of your resume on your computer. You should be customizing your resume to what the company is looking for. As always, be sure to double check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
3. Networking and Building Relationships
Professional relationships can be just as fleeting as personal relationships — if not more. Gilcher recommends that job seekers “grab [their] contact lists and get online to reconnect with old contacts and establish new ones. Sites like LinkedIn are a great way of connecting with industry professionals.”
For old contacts, schedule a quick meeting in a comfortable setting like a coffee shop or a restaurant near their office. These contacts may be able to lead you in the right direction toward getting back into the workforce.
For new contacts, find some local gatherings for professionals in your field. Don’t look at these gatherings as opportunities to promote yourself.
“You should be there to learn and establish contact with the right people. While many solely rely on social media, meeting in person should never be ignored as a method of connecting. It’s always a great way to put a real face and a personality to a profile,” says Rafael Restrepo, area director at Kavaliro.
4. Prepare for Feedback
When you land an interview, listen to the interviewer’s feedback on where they may feel your experience or skills are lacking. Take the feedback professionally and use it as a point to renew your professional development. Ask employed friends for their advice. They’ll appreciate you coming to them, and they may consider you as a candidate when they hear about a job that you’re matched for.
5. Fortune Favors the Bold
It is an old saying, and it still rings true today.
“You have to put yourself out there,” Gilcher says. “When you’re out of work for a while, companies are not going to reach out to you. You need to make your presence known. Get on the job boards, go to subject meetings, make phone calls to hiring managers, and network with other professionals. Be known and memorable for the right reasons. When that next opportunity comes up, you might be the person they consider.”
Re-entering the workforce is challenging, but it can lead to great opportunities. A new perspective can lead you to your dream career or open you up to prospects that you never knew existed. Remember that it is important to keep your mind open to the various opportunities that will be presented to you in this journey.
Have you ever re-entered the workforce after a long hiatus? What advice would you give to a person about to re-enter?