If your new year resolution was to pick up, dust yourself and get going on a your second career after a break, this post is for you. Getting back to work after a break can be a daunting prospect. Where do you start? Who would want your services? Does your resume look okay? How should you explain your break? The challenge is bigger if you are looking for alternative options like work from home or something different from your previous experience. As a certified coach, I have coached many people who’ve been through this dilemma but found the right answers as we worked through each concern in our sessions. Here are a few pointers/indicators/steps you may want to consider before you jump head long into your job search:
1. Shed self doubt: Our biggest enemy is usually ourselves. The voice in our head constantly convinces us that our skills and confidence are too rusted to stick our head out. And probably we are doomed to fail. Change that internal dialogue! You are worth it and you can do it. In this article, you will see how the right kind of preparation can give you a head start to successfully combat the challenges that you might encounter in this path.
2. Make a list of your skills: This is taking stock of the ammunition you have. This is what you will put on offer in the job market. List out not just the technical skills you have – HR processes, CRM management, recruiting skills, sales skills – but also interpersonal skills – great communication, persuasive skills, punctual etc. This will not just give you a realistic estimate of your skill set but also help you tell your future employers what you bring to the table. If you run into a dead end, seek the help of your family and friends to complete this list. This step will also help dispel your self doubts a great deal by pulling out traits you had either forgotten or taken for granted or ignored in yourself.
3. Figure out your transferable skills: In case you are planning to move fields since you can’t continue your career the way it was, you need to consider your transferable skills. These are skills that can be transferred to another profession too. For instance, if you have writing skills, you can blog on your own to build a brand or write for companies that need writers. Or if you are great at organisational skills, you can move from working in an office to being a virtual assistant. The skill set that you can have can be used in a different job too. And no matter how long your break has been, one never forgets one’s skills.
4. Acquire new skills: Whether you have taken a career break or not, upgrading your skills frequently will always keep you ahead. This is an investment that you make in yourself. This could be critical especially if you are trying to get back to the job market. We live in rapidly changing times and our skills can become obsolete in no time. This becomes important if you are changing careers. A certificate can go a long way in getting your foot in the door in a new industry. There are several offline and online courses – including free ones – to help you upgrade yourself in your free time.
5. Write your resume: Once you know what you have to offer in the job market, it’s time to put that formally on a paper. This can be sent to prospective employers. It can be a resume or an online summary on Linkedin. Make sure your resume isn’t wordy. Make it concise and focussed. Recruiters spend just a few seconds on each resume. And you need to put in only the relevant information that can catch their eye.
Also bear in mind that the resume should be tailor made to the job you are looking for. For instance, if you were in HR all your life and now you want to be a trainer, your resume should bolster your candidature for being a trainer. Highlight how your experience in HR has prepared you to training. Getting a certificate in training can help you get the initial push.
6. Let the world know: Once you have assessed yourself and are sure what you want to offer, it’s time to send out feelers. The job world is primarily online today. Facebook. Linkedin, Twitter, Quora, Instagram – you never know where the right opportunities might be. It really depends on the kind of work that you are looking for. Corporate head honchos and HR decision makers live on Linkedin. Whereas alternate job opportunities can be explored on FB pages or communities like Sheroes which exist for the very purpose of helping women get back on their feet.
7. Network actively: Like they say – it’s not what you know but who you know that matters. Make your network before you need it. The online world is reciprocal. You can’t email someone and expect to get a job. Mingle around, make conversations, share and comment on content. Be a part of communities and groups that are related to your work. You can attend relevant offline events – there are tons of them – and connect with the right kind of people. Carrying visiting cards on these occasions can help a great deal. Here are 7 quick tips to effective networking online. And 6 networking blunders you should avoid. The most important thing is to follow up with people you meet online or offline.
8. Make it a habit: If you get online and look for work only on days inspiration strikes you, it is not going to work. Connect with a few people on Linkedin everyday. Browse your timeline and comment where relevant. Send out requests and applications every single day. Let’s just say that the success of your day in this phase should be measured by the number of applications you sent out and the number of rejections you got. This way, the rejections only become your motivation to seek more people out. I am saying this because finding the right job is not an easy task. But one needs to persevere to make a dent. And going out there and working constantly towards you goal is the only way to succeed.
9. Set a deadline: And work backwards. Give yourself a certain amount of time to get a set number of leads. Let’s just say you want to have 5 job leads/interviews by the end of a 2 week period. You can then decide the number of people you need to get in touch with and send out applications to in order to get those 5 leads in that time. This kind of disciplined approach is necessary to make things work. If you are not working currently, your time can easily be swept away by domestic pressures and demands of the family. Setting deadlines and targets will keep you on course.
10. Learn from your mistakes: As you go through the process of applying, fine tune your resume and pitch using the feedback you get from prospective clients. It is only when you test yourself in the real world that you’ll know what works. So be flexible in projecting yourself to best suit what the job market wants.
Getting back to a second career might seem challenging because it is so different from the first time you went around looking for a job. But this too can be simple given you follow the right approach. Each one of us has skills and talent that is in demand. We just need find people who need us. I hope these tips will help you make your search easier. If you have any doubts or questions after reading this post, you can always drop a line in the comment or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to help.