How to Rejoin the Workforce After Extended Time Off

Figuring out how to get back into the workforce after extended time off can be frustrating. Many jobs want to hire candidates with recent work experience, and if you don’t have that, the job application process can be extremely daunting.

While it may appear as if you’re stuck in a perpetual state of unemployment, there are many ways to get back into the workforce after extended time off.


Even if you’re not working for profit, one of the most important things to do when you’re trying to get back into the workforce after extended time off is to stay active. Start volunteering at a local charity or at local businesses/community centers.

When you have a large employment gap and you’re looking for a job, the worst thing you could do is sit around. Staying active in your community will give you something to put on your resume and it will help you network. You never know who you’ll meet and who will notice your work ethic. A recent government study found that volunteering is associated with 27% higher odds of employment.

Volunteering isn’t only about networking, but it gives you something current to put on your resume. If your last position ended years ago, your resume may often get overlooked simply because of the fact that there is nothing current on it. However, if you start volunteering, you can use that to fill in the time where you weren’t working. Even if you volunteer once a week or once a month for a span of time, you can use that to fill in employment gaps.


According to studies done by Glass Door, referrals are associated with a 2.6 to 6.6 percent higher chance of an accepted job offer. Reach out to recruiters, friends, and industry professionals to put the word out there that you’re looking for a position. Often people won't know that you’re in the market for a new role, and if they don’t know, they can’t help you. It’s a very small world, and you never know who might have an industry connection or information on an upcoming availability. 

Go out and get coffee with friends or family in your industry. Pick their brain and ask if they have any suggestions for how to brush up on your skills and get back into the workforce after extended time off. They may know of an opportunity which you can use to boost your resume or skill set.

Similarly, reach out to recruiters. People seem to have this notion that it’s better to get a job on your own instead of working with a recruiter, however, it is the complete opposite. Recruiters often have inside knowledge on positions that haven’t been posted to the public. They also have direct interaction with hiring managers and will be able to get your resume in front of someone immediately. How do you get in touch with a recruiter? Do a simple google search or look for recruiters on LinkedIn. Recruiters are always looking for strong candidates, so if you can reach out and highlight your motivation or skills, they will almost always be willing to help with your job search.


Are you volunteering and networking but still find yourself with extra time on your hands? Take the opportunity to learn a new skill or brush up on old skills by taking a course. If you want to get out of the house and have somewhere to go, look into community college courses. Don’t want to make that sort of commitment? Go for online courses which you can do at your own pace.

Platforms such as charge a small monthly fee and offer courses in many different areas. They’re all video based and let you take your time to finish them at your convenience. Aside from giving you something to do, this gives you the opportunity to add more to your resume. Have you noticed that a lot of the positions you want to apply for require knowledge of a specific software? Look it up and watch a tutorial video so you can put that you’re familiar with the software on your resume!


While there seems to be a negative connotation with the words “temporary” and “contract,” these positions can open many doors for you. Contract and/or temporary work can help you in 4 main ways:

  • It will give you current work to put on your resume
  • It gives you immediate income while you’re searching for a long term position
  • It lets you network with industry professionals
  • It gives you the opportunity to show off your capabilities

There is truly no downside to temporary work. While it’s not always smart to take a position in an industry or path you’re not interested in, temporary work gives you the opportunity to explore your options and networking opportunities.


While it may be intimidating and daunting, there are many ways to get back into the workforce after extended time off. The most important things are to stay active and highlight your skills and abilities. Don’t be stagnant and wallow in your sorrows. Take charge of your life, get out there, and make something happen!

A native San Franciscan, Michele Lando is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and founder of She has a passion for helping others present the best version of themselves, both on paper and in person, and works to polish individuals' application package and personal style. Aiming to help create a perfect personal branding package, Write Styles presents tips to enhance your resume, style, and boost your confidence.