I’m an optimist; already looking ahead to a time when COVID will be a thing of the past – a horrible time in our history that will be talked about by future generations.
When we come out on the other side of this, and we will, there are going to be many men and women looking for employment. Perhaps you were laid off as a result of COVID, maybe you took a sabbatical to home school your children, or to care for an elderly parent. Whatever the reason, if you are planning on reentering the workforce again, there are steps you can take to make yourself more attractive to companies and more employable overall.
Before you get started, take some time to think about your career goals. Are you interested in doing the same type of work you may have done previously? Or have your interests changed?
Update your skills. Begin updating your skills before you start actively looking for a job. What skill set does your ideal occupation require? Take an online course, get certified, volunteer, shadow a professional in the field you are interested in, and seek out internship opportunities. Upskill, upskill, upskill. Get relevant certifications – they can set you apart from other job applicants. Show prospective employers that you are up on the latest industry trends and that you are committed to staying current both in topic and technology. Online training courses offer fantastic opportunities to brush up on the basics as well as to learn new skills.
Remember, while technical skills are important, soft skills such as communication and empathy are important too! Explore how body language can attract or detract from the interview experience. Learn tips to become a better listener, or to improve your written and verbal communication skills.
Be careful what you post. Social media is everywhere, and it is important to be smart about what you post and where. Potential employers often investigate prospective new hires on social media - so make sure that your social sites portray the type of individual you’d be happy to have future employers see.
Get active on LinkedIn and put your resume on sites such as CareerBuilder, and Monster. Reach out to companies of interest, introduce yourself to team members via messaging, or, if you have friends in common, ask for a personal introduction. Having that personal connection may help you land that job!
If you haven’t been networking or kept in touch with others in your field, now is the time to pick up the pace. It is important that you learn what has been happening in your industry during your absence.
Organize your resume in a fashion that is more functional rather than chronological. List achievements under headings that capture the essence of the work completed – “marketing experience”, “sales experience”, etc. Your time away from the workforce did not rob you of your skills. Make sure that your resume contains information on what you did in prior occupations as well as what you have been doing in the time you’ve been away.
There are many professional templates available online, and services to help you create a resume that will get you noticed. Make sure to include keywords in your resume that can be found in job openings for the type of position you want.
Ask for input and coaching. Have friends and family review your resume and research how to write the best cover letters. A cover letter gives you space to explain the reasons for your absence from the workforce and a chance to explain why you are the right candidate for the job. Tailor your cover letters for each job you are applying for.
Let others know you are looking. You never know whose company may be hiring, and your acquaintances may help spread the word for you. Don't be shy - ask for introductions and leads wherever you can.
Practice interviewing. Look up common interview questions and practice your responses to alleviate anxiety. Learn how to succinctly express your accomplishments, briefly explain your absence from the workforce and tie your life experiences into required skills for the position you are seeking.
Invest in a new piece of clothing. You want to feel professional, so invest in an article of clothing that makes you feel put-together, sophisticated and worthy of the position you are seeking.
Get a foot in the door. Be ready to consider accepting freelance or part time work, or even a job that might not be your ideal position. Getting experience in the field is what is most important. You will gain experience, and should the current opportunity not grow into a full-time position – you’ll have more work experience and skills to list on your resume when it’s time to move on.
Job hunting may seem downright daunting in today’s climate. Make sure that give your job search plenty of time. If you start getting frustrated or discouraged, take a break from your search. All good things take time. Taking the time to lay the right groundwork will help you find a job that you’ll love!