By Gladys Mae
Gladys is the Associate Director of Admissions & Student Services with over 10 years of experience at the International Career Institute.
If you’ve been on a career break and are ready to get back to work, there may be a few things that you’re feeling a little apprehensive about. No matter the circumstances or reasons for your career break, when it comes to returning to work, there could be a few things that have changed since your last role.
Here are a few things you should consider before applying for work again, so that you can ensure that you’re ready and prepared to get back into the workforce.
While it may be true that you will be competing against “millennials” when applying for jobs, one thing you will have as an advantage is true, hands-on experience. Even if it was 10 years ago since you last worked in the field, you still have valuable experience that younger applicants won’t necessarily have. By emphasising the fact that you do have experience, this can give you a huge edge when applying for jobs. Don’t forget to mention anything you have learned during your break. Don’t underestimate the power of starting up social media accounts, keeping a blog or managing a networking tool; it all counts.
Another thing a lot of new and younger applicants might not have is a well-established network. If you have worked in a specific area in the past, you’re likely to still have a network of contacts in that field or beyond. If you’re looking to get back into the same career, get in contact with some prior contacts and get networking again. If you’re looking for a career change, don’t lose hope on your old network. Your previous network, even if in a different career field, will sometimes provide you with good contacts and leads for the career you are looking for.
Technology is changing, growing and expanding each and every day. As new technologies are developed, you will likely find these new technologies crop up in different job roles. Get in touch with your technological side and learn some basics. Whether it’s social media, smartphones or simply Office or Google Drive, knowing how to use these everyday products will help you to nab that new position.
It doesn’t matter who you are, what age you are or your gender, there’s always going to be stereotypes challenges when looking for a job. However, the key is to overcome those stereotypes and make potential employers understand what you’re truly worth. The idea is not to focus on the stereotypes, but rather the positives of how well you worked prior to leaving your role, and what you can provide the employer now if they hire you. That way, you can help them to rest easy knowing that you’re great for the job, regardless of any stereotypes that may have crossed their mind.
One question that may come up when applying for jobs is “why are you returning to work?”. Although the key reason may be for financial reasons, it’s important to think of reasons other than monetary gain. Think about why you’re really looking to get back into the workforce and what’s truly going to get you motivated each day. Having this answer nice and clear when directed at you will not only help you to understand your motives but will make it clear for your prospective employer too.
It may have been a few years since you even looked at your resume, so before printing it off and handing it out, it will be ideal to go over it and make any necessary changes. Make sure all of the basics such as contact details and qualifications earned are all correct, up to date and listed. It’s also a good idea to write any new skills you would have obtained whilst not in paid employment, such as technologies learned, short courses or any volunteering you may have completed in that time.
There comes a time where you may be offered an opportunity but it may not be exactly what you’re looking for. However, it’s important not to disregard these opportunities too easily. These kinds of options may be just what you need to get your foot in the door and you can work towards the position you really want later on down the track. These kinds of offers are sometimes provided when an employer wants to get a sense of how you will work within the company after a long time away from a career. Grab these opportunities and use them to show how well you can work for them.
Sometimes, it can help greatly to get a new educative course completed and under your belt. Even with hands-on experience in the past, some employers look favourably on those who re- and up-skill course before re-entering the workforce, as it can show that you have taken the initiative to get a fresh and up-to-date understanding of the area you wish to work in. Some can be completed in a matter of weeks, so check with the ICI course guide on the types of courses available and how long they will take to complete.
No matter how long you’ve been away from the workforce, you can always re-enter with a fresh start. Whether you want to get back into the previous sector you worked in, or are looking for a complete change, if you’re prepared there’s no reason why you cannot get a job in the field you so desire.