Figuring out how to find a job after a career break 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.
Stay active, and show this on your resume!
Most of the time a career break happens due to other obligations. Whether it’s raising children, taking care of a sick family member, or other personal reasons, taking time off from traditional employment rarely means that you’re just sitting around twiddling your thumbs. Even if you’re not working for profit, one of the most important things to do when you’re trying to find a job after a career break is to highlight what you’ve been doing. This can be anything from volunteering at a school or local charities, to any side projects or side jobs you’ve taken on.
Highlighting how you’ve been 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. 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 get overlooked simply because of the fact that there is nothing current on it. However, if you highlight what you’ve been doing in the interim, (i.e. volunteering, raising kids, caring for a family member, etc.) 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. As an added bonus, a recent government study found that volunteering is associated with 27% higher odds of employment.
Networking is essential to finding a job, but when you’re coming back after a career break, it becomes more important than ever. 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 find a job after a career break. They may know of an opportunity which you can use to boost your resume or skill set.
Another great option is to reach out to recruiters. There seems to be a negative stigma about working with recruiters, however it can be wildly beneficial, especially if you have a large employment gap on your resume. 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.
Take a Class
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.
Do you notice that a lot of jobs require QuickBooks or another specific software? Take an online tutorial or course so you learn about the program and can put it in the skills matrix of your resume. You don’t need to become an expert on it, but if you can take a course to familiarize yourself with the subject or program, you’ll be able to include that information on your resume. Ensuring that you have the skills and software knowledge that employers are looking for will help you find a job after a career break.
At the very least, watching YouTube tutorials will give you a better understanding of how the software works. This way you can include “Familiar with [software]” on your resume. Including this phrase will help your resume become more searchable, and will bring you up when a hiring manager or recruiter searches for candidates with that software knowledge.
Explore Contract or Temporary Positions
New research shows that the temporary employment industry employs more Americans than ever. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the temporary help services industry now employs around 2.8 million Americans per week, an all-time high. 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 four 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
If you excel at your temporary position, chances are that you will meet people who can a) point you in the right direction, b) know of a job that may interest you, or c) will work with you to keep you at the company but progress to an area that best suits your qualifications.
There is truly no downside to temporary work. 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, learning how to find a job after a career break isn’t as hard as it seems. 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 it happen!
By: Michele Lando
A native San Franciscan, Michele Lando is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and founder of writestylesonline.com. 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.