Making your way back into the workforce after an extended break can be a daunting task, but it needn't be that way. After all, you're not out of the market, just a little out of practice. It's natural to feel as though your skills may have deteriorated or are no longer relevant, or to worry about facing rejection as you go through the application process.
These thoughts and emotions are entirely valid, but it's important to remember that you have many viable skills and attributes that potential employers are looking for. The key is to reconnect with your 'work' self, and focus on exercising patience and persistence.
Ready for success? Try these top 5 tips:
1. Revive your professional profile
Now is the time to make sure you are as appealing as possible to potential employers. Set up or update your LinkedIn profile with a new photo and summary, and change your status to 'seeking employment opportunities'. If you completed any training courses during your break, add those to your profile as well.
Your CV will also no doubt need some attention. If you've been out of work for a while, it's a good idea to focus on your career achievements, rather than drawing attention to gaps with a chronological format. And don't forget your soft skills—you may have been out of work, but that doesn't mean you have been doing nothing. What about those books you balanced for your sister? Or the contractors you oversaw during a home renovation project? These skills are all relevant and can be included on your CV.
2. Upskill, upskill, upskill
Applying for work can be a slow and tedious process, so why not spend some of your non-job hunting time expanding your skill set? There are a number online sites providing free or low cost training courses that you can do from home, and you'll finish your day with a nice feeling of accomplishment.
You can also approach friends and family for potential work experience opportunities—even if the role is not what you want long term, you may find just getting back into a routine will give your confidence a much-needed boost. Another option is to apply for temp work, which again, although temporary, will help you get back into work mode.
When you're out of work for a long time, it's likely you will lose confidence and potentially your ability to interact with others on a professional level. Networking is a great way to get these skills back up to speed, so put yourself out there and attend meet ups, workshops, conferences—basically anything relevant to your desired position. You never know, you just might meet your future employer!
4. Believe in yourself
Because if you don't, how can you expect anyone else to? Think of yourself as a product to be sold, and talk yourself up! You're not "unemployed", you're "in between jobs". Try to put a positive spin on things that may otherwise be viewed as negative.
5. Be 'interview ready' at all times
If you've been "in between jobs" for some time, it's more than likely that you're not in much of a routine. Try to establish a new routine that gets you up and out of bed early, and allocate time each day for job searching, upskilling, networking, and following up any 'warm' leads.
Brushing up on your interview skills will also build confidence. Research the company you are applying to. Check out the interviewer's LinkedIn profile. Be prepared to answer questions about your career breaks, without dwelling on the gaps in your CV. Instead, redirect your responses to focus on the projects you have been working on while looking for work.
Above all, remember you are still the same person you were before your break, with the same skills and attributes—something the right employer will recognise!
This post is by Open2Study's blog writer, Peta Brady.
Peta Brady is a freelance copywriter, editor, social media enthusiast, and general grammar pest. She loves writing scribbles and correcting errors, as well as changing her hair colour every five minutes and eating all the foods in Melbourne.