There are many reasons people take time away from the workforce: to start a family, travel, pursue further education, or because of an unexpected job loss. No matter the reason, a common challenge remains: how to get back into work after time away. There are gaps to explain in the resume, interview skills that are rusty, and sometimes a great deal of stress about how to approach a modern job search.
Tackling a job search after an employment gap should include:
• Networking! Speak up and let everyone know exactly what you are looking for. Over 80% of jobs are not posted on public job boards, and networking has proven to be the most ‘tried and true’ method of securing a new role, so get out and make connections; leverage your network. The more people who know you are looking for a job, the more eyes and ears that will be available to help. Identify everyone in your personal network and make a plan to engage.
• Social media. This one might be surprising to those who haven’t job searched in awhile, but the truth is the majority of employers use social media to advertise roles or pursue candidates. According to the 2013 Jobvite survey: 94% of employers use or plan to use social media in their recruitment efforts. LinkedIn is the top site for searching, contacting, vetting, and keeping tab of candidates, but Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ all offer job search benefits. Do your research on each.
• A current resume. Simply adding your recent work experience to your resume will not suffice. Today’s resumes involve a lot more strategy; they must be leaner and cleaner in content and specifically tailored to targeted roles. If you are not familiar with up-to-date resume trends or how to manage the gap in your work history – seek professional assistance. Know which resume format to use when: you need a certain resume version for networking and another version for online applications through ATS.
• Polished interview preparation. Again, if you haven’t interviewed for awhile, your interview skills are likely not up to par. You must be confident relaying your value proposition and key messages in a variety of interview settings. Most importantly, are you well prepared to handle the question about the employment gap in your career history? Research and prepare for every interview; most candidates boast that they are excellent interviewers, yet the vast majority are not. A recent employment agency survey noted that candidates make the most mistakes during the interview stage (interview blunders top the list at 43%).
• Sharpened skills. If you have been away from the workforce for a very long time, or you are looking to make a career change, you almost certainly need to update or acquire certain skill sets and abilities. Keep your skills up-to-date by engaging in regular professional development or community activities related to your targeted role. Take a course, volunteer, and be prepared to demonstrate to employers how your skills are still sharp and relevant.
• Sound career advice. If you are not completely confident about what type of role you should pursue (time for a career change?) it would be a very wise decision to seek the assistance of a trained career coach. These professionals can walk you through skills assessments and help you research roles that are a good fit to your aptitude and lifestyle.
Finally, keep in mind that looking for a job is a full time job of its own, and your search requires a lot of investment. Devote focused time to every step of the process; never assume that all you need is just a good resume or only brushed-up interview skills. A complete package of well prepared documents and tactics are necessary.
Learn more about current job search trends in my post: Make it Happen!
Get access to current job search tools and resources that will help you locate a job faster and with less stress on my website: www.CareerImpressions.ca