HOW TO GET A JOB AFTER A LONG CAREER BREAK
Photo by Sai De Silva
If you’ve been away from the workforce due to raising a family, the thought of returning can be daunting. You may be excited about the prospect of returning to work, but if it’s been years since you’ve engaged with your profession you may be wondering how to get back to where you were before you left – and if that’s even possible.
The good news is that not only is it possible to return to a great position in your chosen field, but you may even find yourself in a better place than before – if you’ve done your homework.
This guide outlines important tips and bits of wisdom to help you successfully navigate through the process of job hunting after a time away. If you want even more in-depth knowledge and guidance, be sure to check out our online course “How to Land Your Next Job.”
Let’s get started!
How to Boost Your Chances to Land a Job You Love
You don’t want just any job – you want a job that fulfills you. Practice these strategies to generate great prospects and end up with a job you feel great about.
- Update Your Resume
Odds are your resume is a bit out of date. Revise your old resume to reflect the current needs of your field. Make sure it speaks to any updates that have been made in your industry. This may require some simple rewording, or you can work with a professional to craft the best resume possible. Our free online course, How to Write The Perfect Resume, will help you draft a powerful resume that stands out from the rest.
- Use Social Media
If you don’t have a Linkedin account, make one so potential employers and connections can find you. Consider creating a professional Facebook page. Connect with online groups and forums for your field to stay informed on trends and conversations that may influence your job hunt.
- Build a Personal Website or Online Portfolio
Put your resume, CV, portfolio or other pertinent information on a simple, elegant personal website. This will allow potential employers to learn more about you and your work from afar – and may lead to more job opportunities.
- Address the Gap in Your Cover Letter or E-Note
When you reach out to companies, make sure your cover letter specifically covers your gap in employment. This gives you the power to control the narrative. Don’t go too in-depth, but address the reason for the gap, and why you are in a better position than ever to be a benefit to their company.
If you engaged in any activities or projects while you were away (such as helping friends develop a marketing strategy or a business plan), highlight it in your letter. While “non-professional” in nature, these additional experiences will show that you are resourceful, ambitious, and have still been learning and growing while you were away from a traditional work environment.
- Take a Class
If you’ve been away from your career for a while, it’s a great idea to get a certification or take a class that boosts your competency in your field. Employers will love to see that you have taken it upon yourself to continue your education as it will show that you are engaged with present-day practices.
- Work Your Connections
The majority of jobs these days come through relationships and connections. Go through social media, talk to friends and family, be open and personable in any classroom setting. You can’t get ahead by staying quiet in the background. Get out there and build the bridges that will take you where you want to go.
Tips for Interviewing After Time Away from the Workforce
You’ve landed some interviews – good for you! Keep these points in mind when getting ready to meet with potential employers in order to make the best impression possible.
- Be Prepared
There’s no such thing as over-prepared. Practice your interviewing skills with a trusted friend or coach. Be ready to talk about your time away and your reasons for returning. Know where you want to go and how your skills can best support the company.
If it’s been a while since you’ve interviewed, you’re bound to be a bit nervous. Work those jitters out in practice so that when it’s time for the actual interview you feel strong and ready.
- Be Honest
When you’re in the room, don’t try to avoid answering tough questions. Interviewers can sense when a potential employee isn’t being honest. It’s better to stand behind your choices, skills, and abilities with grace and eloquence than to hide them because you’re afraid the truth will keep you from getting a job.
- Be Confident
There is no substitution for confidence. Mind your body language in the room. Don’t cross your arms, slouch, or check your phone. Give good eye contact, listen deeply, lean forward slightly in your chair, and maintain an open expression and body language.
When you speak, do so with certainty. If you sound insecure in the fact that you’ve been away from your career for a while, it will read, and your interviewer will become nervous about you as a potential hire. If you can talk honestly and securely about yourself, however, it will elevate your chances of landing the job you desire.
4 Major Don’ts for Getting a Job After a Career Break
If you want to secure an awesome job, you’ll need to be mindful not to get in your own way. Avoid these pitfalls while working toward landing a job you love.
- Don’t Undervalue Yourself
It’s easy to think that because you’ve been away that you are somehow worth less. This is not necessarily the case. You deserve to be compensated well for the expertise you bring to the table – don’t undermine that dollar value just because you took time off.
Have you recently taken a class that deepened your expertise in your field? Can you speak intelligently about current best-practices, strategies, and tactics for success in your potential role? You can make up for the time away with increased investment in yourself and your career and end up with a salary close to, if not more than what it was when you left.
For more information on how to get the best salary, see our guide How to Negotiate a Job Offer.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Do Something Different
There’s a golden opportunity to make a big jump into a new field after taking time off to raise a family. You’ll already need to do some work to prepare yourself for a return to a career – why not make it a new career if that’s what your heart desires?
Even if you’re not ready to completely shift away from your former position, perhaps you’d be happy working in a new industry. Certification courses, research into your industry of choice and a willingness to put yourself out there may be all that stands between you and a job you love.
- Don’t Forget to Research
This includes market research for salary purposes as well as research into your former industry and any new industries or roles you’re looking to pursue. Give yourself the time to test certain aspects of a new job to see if it’s really a good fit. Take a class, connect with those who are currently holding a position the same or similar to what you want to go after, and really see if it’s right for you.
In-depth research will also help you understand how to organize your resume, as well as what you need to include in your cover letters in order to show yourself off as best you can.
- Don’t Hide
It would be nice if you could stay safe behind your computer and just send out resumes and cover letters through job sites and see what hits, but in order to maximize your potential, you’re going to have to get out in the world. Go to networking events, engage in communities that are affiliated with your field or career of choice.
Hold yourself accountable and put yourself out there. Make a point to meet new people, and don’t be afraid to talk confidently about your abilities and experience when in conversation. You want the most fulfilling job you can get, which requires that you pursue the opportunity with determination and a sense of purpose.