Five Tips for Making a Career Comeback

Robert Half International

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You left the workforce awhile ago -- perhaps to raise a family, travel the world or earn another degree -- and now you're ready to return.  You're excited to begin exploring new employment opportunities but also realize that landing a job may not be easy.  With no recent work experience, you wonder if you'll even receive responses from employers, let alone an offer that appeals to you.

While re-entering the job market can be daunting, it doesn't have to be an uphill battle.  With the right mindset, thorough preparation and proactive outreach, you can increase your chances of transitioning back into the workforce.  Here are five steps to help relaunch your career:

1. Self-audit your skills. 
Track down opportunities that appeal to you and carefully read the job descriptions.  Ask yourself if you have the requisite skills to thrive in each role.  You may discover you need additional education or training to increase your marketability.  Taking time to gain the skills you lack may delay your job search, but it will help you land a more enjoyable and satisfying position in the long run.  Updating your skills also will boost your confidence and help you compete with other job seekers who have been on steady career tracks.

2. Create a compelling résumé. 
Your résumé can be a deal maker -- or breaker.  It often determines whether you'll get a call from a prospective employer, so make sure your document accentuates your strengths.  Choose a format that emphasizes abilities over chronology -- but don't try to hide employment gaps.  A combination format -- which lists specific jobs and dates of employment under broad skill headings -- for example, allows you to highlight key accomplishments while also documenting when and where they occurred.  Also, don't forget to include any freelance projects or volunteer work you've done, as well as any professional organizations you belong to or conferences you have attended while on hiatus.  These activities will illustrate that you remained active and engaged while you were not working.

3. Spread the word. 
Once you feel confident about your skill set and résumé, begin your self-marketing efforts.  Let all your former colleagues from past work situations know your current situation and that you're looking for work.  These contacts may know someone in your area who can help you with your job search.  Also, get out and meet people -- attend trade shows and meet-and-greet events or create your own networking opportunities.  Tell whomever you talk to that you are in the job market.  Don't be shy about speaking up; you may be surprised how many people are willing and able to help.  If anyone offers assistance, be sure to return the favor.  Serving as a resource to others -- by forwarding articles of interest or providing contact information when requested, for example -- is the most effective way to forge long-term relationships.

4. Keep an open mind. 
While you likely seek a full-time role, consider broadening your job hunt.  A consulting or project-based job can help you ease back to work and allow you to evaluate prospective employers before committing to a full-time position.  A specialized staffing firm can help you find opportunities that suit your talents and preferences and also help you get a foot in the door at companies for which you've always wanted to work.

5. Build a support circle. 
It's easy to become frustrated during a job search.  Just remember, countless people have been through extended job searches, including, as you may find out, friends and family members.  Seek out people for support; you may find not only a sympathetic ear but also a person who can relate to your situation and offer advice for overcoming it.

While you may need to work a bit harder at your job search than colleagues with uninterrupted work experience, keeping an open mind and positive attitude will go a long way in helping you find an opportunity that aligns with your current lifestyle and career goals.  The earlier you start researching your options and enhancing your skill set, the sooner you'll be in a position to impress hiring managers and land the job you seek.


Robert Half International Inc. is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 350 offices throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.  For more information about our professional services, please visit www.rhi.com.


Last Updated: 30/07/2008 - 5:27 PM


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