Whether you've been out of the workforce for a few months, a few
years or even a decade, it is perfectly normal to feel nervous about
getting back to work.
Fear not. With our five-point plan, you can turn your fear into
excitement and use it to fuel a new chapter in your life.
Whether you're returning to the same industry that you left or
entering a new career completely, there will be technology, lingo and
processes that you will be unfamiliar with.
This is where you need to get your research hat on.
If you've been out of work for longer than a few months, you will
need to mention this in your resume and it's likely you will need to
explain the gap in job interviews.
The first step in this process is to create a skills list. To do
this, think about all the skills and strengths that you gained outside
the workforce. These may include:
Work out how to translate these skills and strengths to a work
environment and write them on your skills list. You will use this list
in your resume and draw from it during job interviews.
When you're ready to get back to work, tell everybody you know that
you're on the job hunt. Ask for advice and ask if anyone knows of any
You may be surprised at how many people get their jobs through a
friend or family member-word of mouth can get your foot in the door
quicker than a traditional search.
It's also a good idea to make a list of businesses that you'd like to
work for. Call them up and ask to speak to their HR about potential
positions and ask what it takes to get a role with the company. Be
friendly and professional. You never know what may happen!
Have a look online to see if there are any professional associations
related to the industry you want to work in. If there are, join them.
Make sure you get involved; go to networking nights.
LinkedIn is a social network site for professionals. It lets you
connect with other professionals in your field as well as companies
and industry associations. It is also heavily used by recruiters to
find and research potential employees. Companies also tend to
advertise jobs on the site and it's a great place to get industry news
and explore career options.
When you join, take some time creating a really great page that shows
who you are as a professional and make sure you completely fill in
your profile. For tips on creating a great profile, check out the
advice on LinkedIn's site here.
Use the LinkedIn tools to start making connections with other
professionals. You can start this process by importing your email
lists. Also, connect with companies you are interested in and read
what they post.
You want to go into your interview well researched. If you know what
you are talking about, recruiters are likely to overlook a career gap
and trust that you know your stuff.
Go into the interview knowing a lot about the company. During your
interview, find chances to demonstrate that you know what the business
is about and that you understand the industry.
When you are asked about your work gap, it's best to be
honest. Keep your explanation brief, and focus on how your
gap gave you skills that make you a good fit for the role. Then move
the conversation back towards your skills and experience.
Recruiters know that sometimes people need to take time out of the
workforce. It is not uncommon and they won't eliminate you from the
running simply for a work gap. What they are interested in is how you
are going to benefit the company. You need to show your value, your
commitment to work and what you can bring to the table.
It is important that you understand you are not trying to hide your
employment gap. Trying to hide the gap makes you look suspicious to
recruiters. Instead, you're trying to get their attention focused on
why you are a great job candidate.
You want to get employers interested in you before they get to your
work experience. That way, they are more likely to overlook your
employment gap and get you in for an interview.
Importantly, recruiters generally spend less than ten seconds looking
at candidate resumes before they make initial decisions, so you want
to put your best foot forward.
To do this, you need to load the top half of your resume with all
your strengths and skills, following that up with your work experience.
A resume objective is two to four sentences in length (keep it short
and sweet). It highlights your skills, strengths, experience and core
competencies. Think of it as your sales pitch, outlining why you are
perfect for the job. You need to tailor your objective statement to
fit every one of your job applications.
Your objective statement should focus on what you can bring to the business.
Start with who you are; move on to your experience, key functions and
accomplishments; then outline your transferable core strengths and
skills; finish off with how your abilities are relevant to the position.
Example: ‘Loyal and hardworking retail assistant with 3+ years'
experience in boutique clothing. Looking to leverage my high-level
customer service, communication, patience and problem-solving skills
as a medical receptionist at the Green Square Medical Clinic.'
Straight after your objective statement, you want to insert a skills
list. Paint a picture of yourself as the perfect fit for the role that
you are going for. Pull skills from the list that you created earlier.
Remember, only list skills you enjoy or are good at. Don't make up
skills you don't have, and don't list things you don't enjoy doing
(you want a job you'll like).
Here is where you will insert your work history, starting with your
most recent position. You will also need to slot in your career gap.
When outlining your gap, be brief and include other skills that you
picked up during your break, as well as courses that you did or
volunteer work you undertook.
2016 - 2017 – primary home caregiver, completed Certificate IV in
Aged Care, volunteer at Dalloway Retirement Village.
2016 - 2017 – primary care provider for ill relative, mastered
Photoshop and Dreamweaver, volunteer at Image Design Studios.
2016 - 2017 – travel: South America and Asia, volunteer at Borneo
Orangutan Sanctuary, mastered project management.
So there you have it, a concrete plan to help you get back to work.
There may be times when you begin to question and doubt yourself.
That's very normal. Everyone who has been in your
shoes has felt that way; don't let it stop you. Remember your
strengths, remember that you have something to offer and give yourself
the opportunity to show that. Soon, when you have a job, this will all
be a memory.
Meanwhile, if you're looking for a way to boost your skills, or
update your qualifications, check-out TAFE NSW's extensive course