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Getting Back into the Workforce: Tips for Job Seekers Returning After a Career Break

After a career break, re-entering the workforce is often tricky. You must navigate several obstacles to successfully land a position. Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to make the process easier. If you’re trying to get back into the workforce after a career break, here are some tips for job seekers that make it easier.

Prepare to Address Your Resume Gap

A career break creates a gap in your resume, and hiring managers are sure to notice it. Being ready to address your resume gap is, therefore, essential. However, how you approach it may need to vary depending on the circumstances that led to a break.

Typically, if a layoff was the cause of the gap, explaining it is relatively straightforward. Hiring managers won’t usually hold a layoff against you, particularly if you spent your time away from the workforce improving your professional position. As a result, you can be relatively open – though suitably concise – in this situation.

If you left your last job for health-related reasons, be they your own medical concerns or those of a family member, it’s best to state that in a basic way. You aren’t required to give details about the health conditions involved, but be honest that it was the cause. Then, make sure to state that the situation is resolved and that you’re now ready to recommit to the workforce.

For career breaks related to termination, you’ll also need to be honest about what occurred, though you can be somewhat light about the details of the firing. Then, it’s critical to pivot by discussing lessons learned and what you’ve done to ensure the situation doesn’t arise again, as that can provide the hiring manager some peace of mind.

Know Where You Want to Go

Re-entering the workforce doesn’t always mean heading back to the same job you previously held. While some professionals do return to their previous careers, others may want to take a chance and head in a new direction. Additionally, they may have different desires about their overall experience on the job, such as the number of hours they’d like to work and their preferred culture.

Take some time to consider what you want in a new position. Outline the nature of the duties and the skills you’ll use, as well as your ideal environment and culture. Consider if there are any benefits or perks you consider essential, too, such as the ability to work remotely.

The goal here is to set a target for an upcoming job search. By doing so, your efforts are often more focused, and that can streamline all the activities that follow.

Assess Where You Stand

Industries and positions change over time, and depending on when you exited the workforce, that can make re-entering more complex. The skills and experience that were once enough to land a particular position might not align with employers’ expectations today. As a result, you need to assess where you stand before making assumptions.

Spend time exploring typical job requirements outlined by companies filling positions like the one you hope to target. Then, honestly, compare what they’re after with what you bring to the table. Identify any potential skill gaps that could prove problematic, as well as what it may take to address them. That way, you can determine if your current target is realistic or whether additional steps are necessary to qualify.

Prime and Leverage Your Network

Many candidates who took a career break previously had robust professional networks. These connections can remain valuable as you plan your re-entry. However, you may need to spend time priming these relationships if you haven’t networked much since exiting the workforce.

If so, reconnect before discussing your desire to relaunch your career. By focusing on rebuilding the connections, members of your network are often more receptive. In turn, when you do ask for their assistance, they’re usually more inclined to help, which can mean access to opportunities you couldn’t tap into otherwise.

When you do start leveraging your network, be honest about what you’re hoping to find and request their support. Providing some clear details about your target position type ensures your network is focused on the right opportunities, reducing the odds that any they mention won’t meet your needs.

Update Your Resume

Before you launch your job search, spend time updating your resume. In many cases, creating a master resume that holds details about all of your noteworthy achievements is best. Then, you can simply pick and choose which ones to include when you tailor a resume to a specific role, streamlining the application process dramatically.

Even if your last resume covers all of the necessary details about your most recent position, a refresh is still wise. Formatting and content trends do change, and you want to make sure your application aligns with hiring managers’ current expectations.

Generally, the ideal format today begins with a professional summary. Outline a few relevant accomplishments, skills, or other details about what you bring to the table to draw in the reader. Next, include a skills section and use bullet points to highlight critical capabilities. Then, transition to your work history, ensuring the entries are achievement-focused and quantifying the details when possible. Lastly, include information about your education.

Explore a Wide Array of Opportunities

When you’re looking to re-enter the workforce after a career break, it’s wise to remain open-minded regarding the type of employment you seek. In many cases, exploring temporary or temp-to-hire positions works in your favor. Employers are often more open-minded when filling these types of roles, which can open doors that may otherwise be closed. Plus, even if a position is short-term, it functionally closes the gap in your resume, making securing your next job far simpler.

Your Next Chapter Awaits

If you’re getting back into the workforce after a career break, A.R. Mazzotta can make it simpler. Contact an A.R. Mazzotta recruitment team member to find out more about the services we offer, or visit our website to start exploring our open jobs today.