This post is by Sanjay Sathe, CEO of RiseSmart, a leader in next-generation employee outplacement services. He has led successful sales and marketing organizations both domestically and internationally. His management background includes product marketing, CRM, loyalty programs, branding, marketing communications, public relations and strategic alliance initiatives across the telecommunications, banking, airline and technology sectors.
If you have been out of the workforce for a long time, you need to be prepared. Having a gap on your resume is going to raise questions, so you need to be ready to explain it by discussing the meaningful ways you spent your time. You will have to convince the employer that despite this gap, you are the best candidate for the job. Following the steps below will help you craft your story and can increase your chances of landing a new job after an extended break from the workforce.
Do Something to Remain Relevant
Regardless of the reasons behind your break, you need to remain active in your profession. Consider joining a professional association and participating in their events. You can also volunteer some time to a cause that is meaningful to you. For example, if you are in IT, volunteer to help with the technology needs of a nonprofit. If you are in marketing, offer to manage the social media efforts of your local animal shelter. These activities will take only a handful of hours a week, but the rate of return on this time investment will be huge when you are again looking for work. Not only will you have something current and relevant to include on your resume instead of a gap, you will also remain up-to-date in your field – a must for re-entering the workforce!
You also need to keep your network active. Be sure to keep in touch with contacts and offer them value to maintain the relationship. When the time comes to re-enter the workforce, you can focus on opportunities connected with your network as these will be much easier to get your foot in the door.
Get Creative to Get Back In
Sometimes have to create your own opportunities. Think about volunteering at a company you would really like to work for, or finding an internship. Internships are not just for students — there are many programs set up for mature and experienced professionals. The benefit of having an internship is you get your foot in the door and the opportunity to prove yourself. At that point it is much easier to land a job. In addition, it will give you relevant and recent experience to put front and center on your resume.
Be Prepared to Be Flexible
Just because you took time off from the workforce doesn’t mean you are going to have to start over in your career. However, it does mean that you are going to need to be flexible. You will be competing with people who have recent skills and accomplishments they will be using to sell themselves to employers. For that reason, you need to have reasonable expectations and be flexible with opportunities.
Getting back into the workforce after a long break can be a challenge, but following these tips can help you in your search.