There are plenty of reasons for people to take a break in their careers. Having children, taking care of ill loved ones, and being laid off (we’re looking at you, COVID) are just a few of the situations that lead workers to take a step away from their jobs.
Censuswide and LinkedIn recently teamed up to survey 3,000 working parents to get a feel for what many people are up against when it comes to taking a break from working.
The results revealed that while nearly 50% of working moms chose to take time off beyond what their maternity leave provided — up to two years on average — 57% of respondents said that they didn't feel like they had a choice due to finances, fear of losing their jobs and fear of not being able to advance in their careers later. Among those surveyed, 61% said that reentering the workforce was a challenge.
It’s true. Reentering the workforce after a break for any reason can be a struggle. But taking time away from your career is also incredibly empowering and an ideal time to evaluate your skills and interests to proceed on your own terms. No one else can offer prospective employers exactly what you bring to the table, Baddie B. So sharpen your resume, straighten your crown and use these X tips to smooth your way back into work.
Be a Goal Getter
Before you do anything else, take a little time to figure out what your career goals are from here forward. Having a target in mind makes it easier to craft a powerful resume and make the moves you need to effectively market yourself. Start by determining what your ideal role is. That could be based on a job title or on the core skills you want to flex while working in that role. Then, consider the industry you want to target and the specific focus you want to narrow in on.
Sharpen Your Skills
Ideally, you’ll start doing this months before you’re ready to start searching for a job. There’s no shortage of free or low-cost resources that can help you freshen up your skillset to better target your ideal job. This is also a great way to gain new information to add to your resume while gaining a handy confidence boost as well. Check with online platforms like Coursera or edX and universities to find free courses that can help you not only sharpen your existing skills or prepare for recertification but also open up a variety of new skills you can learn.
Work on Your Elevator Pitch
Imagine how much more confident you’ll be when you’re networking or crafting cover letters when you have a solid elevator pitch ready to roll out. This quick, concise explanation of your professional background and job goals should be roughly 90 seconds long — just long enough to deliver to someone in the time it would take to ride from the bottom to the top of a building. The main elements of an effective elevator pitch include:
A summary of who you are as a professional
A list of your most important skills, abilities, and achievements
How you've already made an impact
The qualities that make you unique
Get Your Resume Ready
Don’t just dust off your old resume, freshen it up, or start from scratch. There are a few ways to deal with gaps in your work history. One strategy is to switch to a functional resume, which focuses on your success and skills instead of your chronological history. Tailor it to meet the job you're applying for to demonstrate how you meet each employer's qualifications, using examples to illustrate how you excel in each skill area. This is a bit of a creative take on the resume, but it can be tremendously effective when it’s done well.
Or you could go with a hybrid format, which opens with skills and specific experience before listing positions in reverse chronological order. If you go with a hybrid resume, be prepared to fill in the gaps if possible. For example, if you volunteered or worked on a short-term project, you could add those to your resume. There's also power in using your cover letter to provide a brief explanation of your gaps and how you kept yourself active during those periods.
Did you know that approximately 85% of jobs are secured through networking? One of the ways to work your networks is to try to find someone you know who works at a company you're applying to work for. Social media is a great resource and could help you find a fellow alumnus from your university or a second-degree contact who could help you get your foot in the door.
Be Open, Be Confident
Because reentering the workforce can be challenging, it helps to stay open to non-traditional options like contract work or project-by-project assignments. Short-term jobs can give you recent experience to sharpen your resume. Even better, they can provide essential contacts that could very well lead to your next ideal position.
Above all, keep your confidence levels high. You just need to let potential employers see that. And the best way is to shine. Don’t forget that you’re a talented professional. That confidence will help interviewers see you clearly, and it will help you stay motivated.