How to Re-Enter the Workforce After a Lengthy Break

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Business ManRaising children, going back to school, personal tragedy – no matter why you had to take a lengthy break from your career, the prospect of re-entering the workforce can be terribly intimidating. Many people who have taken long breaks from the workforce find themselves facing unique challenges when it comes to landing a new job. Luckily, there are ways to overcome many of these obstacles and achieve success, no matter how long you’ve been away from the office environment.

That being said, navigating the ever-changing job market is no easy task, and it can be especially difficult when there’s a long pause on your resume. However, knowing what sort of challenges you might face will help prepare you for success. Let’s take a look at a few common problems that people face when re-entering the workforce:

1. A Changing Job Market

We have all heard of college graduates who struggle to obtain entry-level positions in their fields due to their lack of experience. Those who are re-entering the workforce may find themselves facing a similar problem.

The job market can change rapidly in very short amounts of time, making the skills that people have irrelevant or out-of-date in the blink of an eye. Those who are being forced out of retirement may particularly struggle to relearn the skills they need to get back into their respective fields.

2. Age Discrimination

New developments in one’s field aren’t the only challenges that those looking to re-enter the workforce face. Even though age discrimination in the workforce is illegal, your age can still hurt you in your hunt for a job. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, more than 21,000 complaints for age discrimination were filed in 2013, and 64 percent of workers say that they have seen or experienced some form of age discrimination.

Those who have been away from the workforce for a while may be in more danger of facing age discrimination, simply because they have aged in the intervening years. Everyone grows older – but, unfortunately, some employers still have not reconciled themselves to this fact.

3. Self-Doubt

Self-doubt is a huge proBalconyblem facing many job seekers today, especially those who have been unemployed for long periods of time. After an extended absence from the labor force, some people may doubt their own skills or abilities when it comes to finding a job again. Some may wonder whether or not they truly have what it takes to return to the workforce, and these feelings can grow stronger when you face the rejections that are a part of any job search.

Tips for Success

Successfully re-entering the workforce after a long break may not be easy, but it can be done. Whether it’s been 5 years or 20 since you last held a job, you can find success with these tips in mind:

1. Brush Up on Your Skills

A lot can happen in the span of just a few years. If you haven’t kept up with new developments in your field, you have likely fallen behind the competition. Keeping your skills relevant will boost your chances of landing a job when the time comes. Consider taking a few classes, reading some good books, and scouring the Internet for information on the latest trends in your industry.

2. Weigh All Your Options

The job market is tough, and it can be difficult to find a decent job. While you may have your hopes set on a particular role at a particular company, it would be wise to weigh all job offers that come your way. What may not look like a perfect fit at first may turn out to be an excellent choice.

3. Consider a Career Change

Before you apply to the same sorts of jobs you held twenty years ago, consider the person you are today and whether or not the career that you once had is a good fit for you now. When re-entering the workforce, many people use the opportunity to change careers. That may be just the ticket for you.

4. Don’t Hide Your Employment Gap

Employers will see right through your attempts to hide a long gap in employment. Instead, be upfront about your employment gap and demonstrate how you have been using that time to take classes, getCloud involved in your community, keep your skills relevant, and generally improve yourself as both a worker and a human being.

5. Tell Others About Your Job Hunt

Networking is important for any job hunt. Casually telling others about your search for employment could help you out quite a bit. One of your friends or family members might have information on a new opportunity you may have otherwise missed – and they may even be willing and able to refer you, which will greatly boost your chances of success.

Getting back into the workforce after an extended absence can be dispiriting, but remember: It’s not impossible. Keep your skills relevant and strategize carefully, and you can succeed in re-entering the workforce no matter how long you’ve been away.

By Nick Papageorge