So you’ve been out of the job market for an extended period time. Maybe you’ve been raising a family and finally the nest has emptied, or the isolation of staying at home has proven too challenging for you, or perhaps financial stress demands the need for a second family income, or maybe you’ve been ill or have been travelling the world…whatever your reason, you’re now ready to rejoin the workforce.
You’re probably feeling a little apprehensive about your chances of finding work fast. What you may actually find is that the market has changed since you last worked, particularly if you have been otherwise occupied for the past several years. The first thing you will want to do is update your resume. It is important to explain your absence. Many employers look unfavourably upon long term unemployment, but if they know you have been nursing a loved one their view of your absence will be far more positive. You should also look to review your skill set and experiences. Not all job related competencies are learnt while at work. Perhaps while you were raising the children you managed the household expenses and reduced your mortgage by a further two years. This speaks to your skills in managing a budget, organising and prioritising, goal setting, problem solving and decision making. Whatever it was that kept you from working, you can display it as a ‘job’ in your resume.
Now the thought of attending an interview will probably have most long term absentees feeling somewhat intimidated. That’s normal. That’s to be expected. And the astute interviewer will understand this. Yet you shouldn’t allow fear to overcome you. Instead focus on finding the job you are seeking, beginning with networking. You didn’t fall into a hole during your hiatus, so tell your contacts, should they be family or friends or the guy at the local convenience store, that you are in the market for a job role and ask if they know of anything that may be suitable. Simply talking to those you are familiar with about the type of work you are looking for is great practice for when you step into an interview room and face a panel of interviewers. Just between you and me, that intimidates most of us! Or better still, you network your way into a job!!
While you’re networking you’re probably getting more and more familiar with the current job market and where you sit within that. It may have you assessing your career options. Do you need to update your skills? Do your qualifications or licences need renewing? Are you aiming too high or too low? A realistic assessment of where you sit in the job market will assist you to successfully promote yourself to the right audience. If you don’t know where you fit in the realm of selection and recruitment, speak with a professional recruiter. They are guaranteed to have their finger on the job activity pulse. Knowing the realities of what you can achieve will also fill you with confidence. With confidence behind you, you can convince an employer that you are the candidate of choice for them.
The one question that you are ultimately going to be asked by any potential employer is why have you decided to return to work? Sure I alluded to the fact that perhaps it’s for financial reasons, but is that the crux of the reason why you are looking for a job now? Or are you looking to fund your wife’s business venture? Perhaps give your children a better education, or renovate your home? What do you think will appeal to a potential employer more; hearing that you need to access some more cash or hearing that you have a goal that requires money to fund it? As an employer myself I would be far more impressed at the goal oriented individual who is hungry enough to chase their dream and turn it into a reality than learn that one’s only motivation for working is money. Analysing why you have decided to return to work will demonstrate motivation for a potential employer.
Returning to work after a long absence may be an easy decision for some to make, but for others it is a far more challenging and daunting decision. Regardless, once that decision is made you need to ensure the groundwork is laid to give yourself the best opportunity at finding a job role quickly. Knowing your capabilities and believing in yourself are key. It will be tough to adjust, but remember, a life changing decision will demand a lifestyle change. So enjoy the transition and embrace the challenge of succeeding.