Taking a break from the workforce to start a family is a rite of passage for many mums, and an increasing number of dads. As the children grow older, you may start thinking about putting your career back in action.
Putting yourself back on the job market can be an intimidating prospect, particularly if you've been out of it for several years. Yet with a bit of planning and enthusiasm, you can boost your chances of success.
1. Find your motivation
One of the questions asked in any job interview is "Why are you interested in this position?" For those who have been out of work for some time, this could be modified to "Why are you returning to the workforce?" It's helpful to think carefully about your own goals and motivations before you even start applying for jobs, not only so that you can ace this question but to help ensure that you find the right fit. In addition to the financial incentive, you may be interested in learning new skills, contributing to your community, or simply getting out and interacting with new people!
2. Get up to speed
If you've been out of your industry of choice for some time, it's vital to catch up with what's been happening. Follow twitter feeds of people you admire, check out industry-related blogs, and read up on the news to become more aware of industry trends.
3. Update your CV
As you learn more about industry trends, you can think about how to update your skill set to reflect these. There are a number of ways to make your CV both current and relevant. Volunteering provides you with the ability to network and brush up on your work-related skills at the same time. It's also helpful to take a professional course if you want to gain practical skills in fields like accounting, project management, or marketing. These types of general skills can carry over to a wide range of careers, as you can see if you look at this article about project management. Attend conferences, read professional journals, and always be on the hunt for opportunities.
4. Put relevant experience and skills first
When you're ready to start applying for jobs, you don't want the first thing that recruiters notice to be the gap in your employment history. Instead of listing your past jobs in chronological order, try shuffling your CV around. Put skills or your most relevant experience at the top to grab the reader's attention.
5. Keep your expectations realistic
Although it would be nice to be able to stride right into a high-powered position or make a complete career change, it's important to remain both open and optimistic. Technology has changed most industries over the past few years, so your skills may not be as relevant as they once were. Be prepared to start at a lower rung of the career ladder to start with, but remember it's only temporary!
Finally, don't be afraid to brush off old contacts and put yourself out there. Join LinkedIn, contact your university Alumni Association, and chat up friends and family to see if there are any opportunities. Although it may take a bit of effort, you could be back in the office in no time.