These days re-entering the work force can be a pretty daunting experience. There are so many things to do, and so many ways to do them, it can be overwhelming. Just remember, you’re not alone. There are many workers out there who are entering the second or even third phase of their professional life. (I’m one of those people!) These days, remaining employed in the same field for an entire career is pretty slim. By thinking of the steps needed to begin moving forward, and planning each one out, you can get started. Here are a few tips to help you along the way....
First is to develop your own personal marketing strategy. Remember “One Size Doesn’t Fit All” and this goes for your job search strategy. What's right for one person, may not be right for you. That's why it’s so important to create a marketing plan. You wouldn’t build a house without a blue print or drive cross country without a map, would you? The same goes for your job search. Consider WHO you are, WHAT you are selling, and WHAT type of companies do YOU want to target.
Now, think about what you have to offer. What are your strengths? Focusing on strengths rather than previous job duties shows how your skill set is transferable to various industries and roles. Re-evaluate what you want. Is the size of the company important? What about the commute or the hours involved? The last thing you want is to take a new job and then find out it’s not the right one for you. Plan ahead and be a bit picky.
Don’t be afraid to think out of the proverbial box. Have you always wanted to be a pastry chef but got stuck on an IT job path? Did you graduate with a Psych degree but know in your heart you’d be an amazing veterinarian? Perhaps now is a good opportunity to try what you always wanted before getting tied down to a specific job. Accepting temporary or freelance work would be a good way to experiment with new fields and opportunities.
Network, Network, Network. Talk to everyone you know and let them know you’re out there. Make sure you have a great personal elevator pitch and know how to sell yourself. What is your brand? If you don’t have one, now is the time to create it. Think of yourself as You, Inc. How would you sell that "company"?What would you want people to know? Prepared networking is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
These days there are so many ways to network, and nothing beats the in-person touch. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile or don’t know what LinkedIn is all about, definitely talk to someone who knows how to guide you through the process. Jen Vondenbrink of Life Simplified (http://yourlifesimplified.com/Life_Simplified/) offers a variety of Social Media courses including a beginner session on “How to Navigate LinkedIn”. I highly recommend investing the time in getting yourself “out there” in the best possible light. One thing to remember though, it’s not how many people you connect with, its how many GREAT contacts you have. Quality not Quantity is the key.
Create a powerful resume. Regardless of whether you’re entering a new field or trying to get back into the one you left, your resume should never look stale. If you need to give your materials a facelift, you can go the “Do it Yourself” route or talk to a professional. There are lots of great books at the Mansfield Library to help you. A couple of good ones are: “The Resume Handbook: How to Write Outstanding Resumes and Cover Letters for Every Situation” by Arthur D. Rosenberg and “The Resume.Com Guide to Writing Unbeatable Resumes” by Warren Simons.
Many clients come to me asking for help in writing or cleaning up their resumes. Sometimes a fresh eye is all that is needed. Remember your resume is only as good as the person reading it. You could have the best looking, best sounding materials in the world, but if they don’t resonate with the reader, then they are not going to get you very far. Create a document that sells you in the best possible light, not just talking about your skills but rather focusing on your strengths.
Put a smile on your face. There are going to be obstacles and there are going to be days when you just can’t talk to another person, or look at your resume again. It’s ok. Think about the advantages of what you’re doing for yourself. People re-entering the workforce have experience, skills and knowledge that make them more desirable candidates than those entering the workforce for the first time.
As Michael Dell, CEO, Dell Computers said in his 2003 commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin: “Don’t spend so much time trying to choose the perfect opportunity, that you miss the right opportunity. Recognize that there will be failures, and acknowledge that there will be obstacles. But you will learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others, for there is very little learning in success.”
Remember, having a plan and being prepared will help to make your re-entry into the workforce a successful and rewarding experience.
How are you feeling about getting back out there?