Amanda had a great career as a computer programmer that she put on hold to devote time to raise her sons. Now that they're older, she wants to reenter the job market, but she doesn't know where to start! Ihor, who took time out to care for his aging mother, is in a similar position.
Thousands of women and men who took time away from work feel the same as Amanda and Ihor. Those who research and plan, do very well. You can too!
Tips for re-entering the workforce
- Know who you are and what you want to do. Do you want to work solely for the income? Or do you want a career that will be an expression of your identity?
What is your dream job? What skills, interests and needs do you want to use on the job?
Identify job duties, work environment, salary, benefits advancement opportunities, and the skills required. List your accomplishments in prior jobs, and school, volunteer, community or homemaking endeavors. Recall activities you really enjoyed. Include homemaking talents such as budgeting, catering parties, or helping others with yard maintenance tasks.
-Take stock of your personal strengths. List adjectives that describe you such as mature, sociable, discreet, confident, enthusiastic, precise, helpful and creative.
Use action words to describe your strengths: designed, researched, supervised, prepared, trained, etc. Make the list as long as possible. Ask your partner or friends to help you identify strengths.
- Identify occupational fields and occupations that will enable you to use your skills and express other personal qualities. The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) published by US Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov/ooh) is a great start. As well, cruise the internet and interview people in your desired fields. Identify job duties, work environment, salary, benefits, advancement opportunities, and skills and training required. Determine personal qualities needed and lifestyle of workers.
- Set long- and short- term goals. Outline your goal and time line. Then develop a plan and focus on your goal. Break the goal into small steps. Transfer the action steps onto your daily calendar and move forward. Modify these as circumstances change.
Specify skills you may wish to upgrade and new skills you may wish to attain. Consider returning to school for retraining, upgrading or an advanced degree. Education can ease reentry into the work force by enabling you to acquire knowledge and skills and develop contacts. Colleges and universities offer certificate and degree programs. Workshops and courses offered by community, business or professional groups, correspondence school, and on–the–job or apprenticeship training provide valuable information.
Acquire job-search skills. Many good books and courses can help you develop a resume, market yourself and prepare for the interview. Enthusiastically show prospective employers how your skills and accomplishments can contribute to the organization.
Network. Getting the right job is often the game of who you know. Contact everyone who might help you gain access to an employer. Include former employers, teachers, professional associates, friends, relatives, neighbors, etc. Visit trade shows, attend chamber of commerce meetings, and events sponsored by local community groups. Many meetings are listed in local newspapers or online, volunteer for a cause. Conduct informational interviews.
- Engage in part-time or volunteer work. You'll get experience and adjust to the new lifestyle. It may also lead to a full-time position.
Register with a temporary service agency. Temps provide a testing ground, new contacts and help you get your foot in the door.
- Consider a home based business. Eleanor, a single parent with two young children, started a children's discount clothing boutique in her basement. Debbie Fields started Mrs. Fields cookies at home. Frank and his brother started a window cleaning business.
- Budget for housekeeping, child care, business clothes and commuting expenses. Interview other re-entry adults for more suggestions.
- Manage time wisely. Schedule errands, appointments and play time. Ask your partner and children to help with chores.
- Value yourself. Develop relationships with positive people who support your endeavors. You are capable, and will achieve desired goals.
Additional tips for taking charge of your life career are found in Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life.