Returning to the workforce is a daunting task that can, at times, seem insurmountable. I know; I’ve been there. When I decided to return to the workforce after a 7-year break, I felt ill-equipped, uninformed and totally directionless. I had no idea how to even get started in my job search.
At Après, we’ve learned valuable lessons from amazing women who’ve landed their dream jobs after taking career breaks. These women were once where you are now and they did it. How? Well, these successful returners all had one thing in common — they created detailed action plans to find their dream jobs and (here’s the important part), they stuck to them. We’ve scoured the plans and found that these eight strategies were critical components in all of them.
- Finding a job is, well, a job.
Let’s face it. If you’ve been out of the workforce for any period of time, it is going to take some time to get back in the game. The problem is when we are in an unstructured environment (our own house), it’s hard to focus on our job search. Here’s the trick: treat finding a job like a job. Dedicate and schedule time every day to your pursuit.
- Find your voice and be brave enough to make the ask.
For some reason, women are afraid to ask for help. Get over it. It is simply too difficult to return to the workforce to do on your own. The good news is that asking for help becomes easier the more you do it. And you will do it a lot. Take a chance and ask a former colleague to grab a coffee with you; request that a friend makes an email introduction to a great connection, or call your old boss and get some guidance. You’ll be very surprised at how excited people are to help!
- Dedicate time every day to social media.
I can hear the collective groans from here. Ok, I get it. If you’re a social media virgin, becoming proficient on numerous social media platforms is tough. I was there once too. But, like everything else, you’ll get the swing of it — it just takes a little practice and time (and you can also take a class on social media marketing to get you up to speed, like this fabulous Edx Course). The important point is that you have to start building your personal brand (yes, that’s a real term) because when your potential employer googles you, trust me, you want something good to come up.
- Get organized!
You can’t get serious about your job search when your desk is a mess and you’ve lost track of any progress. Now is the time to clean up your home office, digital files, and your professional wardrobe. If you need help, there are many serious professional organizers out there to get you started.
- Begin to delegate your home responsibilities.
Now that you’re serious about getting a job, it’s time to start letting go of some of your at-home responsibilities. The kids may not like this part but I promise it’s good for them too. If your kids are at an appropriate age, you should start delegating some chores like washing the dishes, feeding the family pet, taking out the trash and doing laundry. Also, it may be time to lean on your significant other to help out a little more too. You’ll be amazed that the world keeps spinning.
- Figure out your dream job.
This is a fun one. What kind of job do you want? What makes you happy? What’s important to you? Do you want to start a new career? Do you want to go back to what you were doing before? Now is the time to answer these questions. Figure out what you want to do and make a game plan for how to get there.
- Update your resume.
Ugh. We have finally arrived at the dreaded resume. I promise it’s not as bad as you think. And, there’s just no getting around it — you’ve got to have a great resume. Après has provided some good tips here, but, if this seems like a huge uphill climb, it may be worthwhile to hire a great career coach. A good coach can also help you create the perfect LinkedIn profile.
- Perfect your 60-second pitch.
Finally, and most important, you’ve got to craft and perfect your 60-second pitch because you’re going to use it, over and over and over again. And this may sound weird, but a perfect pitch is REALLY HARD to get right (just ask anyone who’s tried to wing it). You must, must, must spend time thinking about it, writing it down and, here’s the important part, practicing it! We’ve got some great tips for you here. So, the next time you’re in the basketball stands and a friend asks you what you’re interested in doing next, you’re going to smile confidently and nail the answer.
Some of the inspiration for this article also came from one of my favorite books, Moms For Hire by Deb Newmyer. If you’re looking to return to the workforce, this is a must-read!