Returning to work after a break, regardless of the duration, can be challenging. Whether your break was due to personal reasons or unemployment, knowing what to do to prepare for your return to work can boost your confidence and increase your chances of restarting your career. Continue below for five effective tips to reenter the workforce.
Decide on a career path or job target
To reenter the workforce, you need to have an idea of what type of work you want to be doing. As you explore various possibilities of career paths, take into consideration what you’d like your career to look like while also considering your personal needs and wants, as well as any skills or certifications you may need to acquire to pursue a specific career.
Start by creating a list of your needs and wants to help guide your decisions. For example, you may have a particular schedule to work around or specific financial needs that need to be met. Once you narrow down a few job targets, it’s time to start exploring.
When it comes to career exploration, one great resource to use is Steppingblocks. This data-powered career exploration tool allows you to take a deep dive into over 60 million personal career journeys to get a comprehensive understanding of the skills and education needed to get hired. Steppingblocks also offers a personality assessment that offers insights into careers your personality aligns with. Another great tool, CandidCareer provides thousands of informational interview videos featuring industry professionals.
Research job market trends
This is a crucial step in your transition back to work. You want to know as much as you can about the job roles to determine if they are suitable for you. Learning about the various industry sectors will inform you about what industries are growing, and which are shrinking. The position or industry you worked in previously may have shifted, so you’ll want to know the labor market outcomes for this line of work. Here are a few career tools to help you prepare for your future and provide you with insights into different industries.
Meet with professionals
Get connected to a professional organization related to your industry of interest, a sports club or a volunteer activity. If you are a student, you can explore the University of Maryland Global Campus Student Organizations. Connect with UMGC students, alumni, and industry professionals for career guidance, networking, and mentorship through the Community Connect program, which is designed to help students build on the skills they are gaining in their coursework and connect to their career. You can also join the UMGC Alumni LinkedIn group to connect with over 16,000 of your fellow alumni and students.
Update your resume
Now, it’s time to update your resume. Use the objective or summary section to explain recent events and current goals. Consider including volunteer opportunities and add all new skills you have acquired and explain how they are relevant to the position you are targeting. Keep in mind that you want to be strategic when creating your resume, so think about what is important to the reader. Shape your resume to be position focused. Communicate your value relative to the employer’s needs and tailor your resume using keywords and phrases. Get instant resume feedback with Vmock/Aspire, an automated resume and LinkedIn critique tool that uses five different benchmark versions of your resume. You’ll receive a score and specific feedback on how to improve your resume and specific advice to be more attractive to recruiters on LinkedIn. Another tool, Resunate, compares your resume to a job description. It will tell you by percentage how well your resume is matched to a specific position. These tools can be found in the “tools” section of CareerQuest.
Your resume has been submitted, so now it’s time to prepare for an interview. Prepare and practice responding to questions asking for clarification about gaps in your experience. When you answer, be as clear as possible about your reasons for taking a break and why it was the best choice for you. Demonstrate how the break helped you prepare for the role you are targeting, and be prepared to articulate your skillset and the value you would bring to the employer. In today’s virtual environment, many employers are conducting video interviews. You can prepare for a virtual interview using the Vmock/Elevator Pitch interview tool. This tool offers feedback on response content, facial expressions, body language, and tone.
Reentering the workforce after taking some time off may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Remember these tips as you venture down the path of finding employment, and you’ll discover a new sense of confidence as you reignite your career. As always, keep in mind that UMGC Career Services is available to help you plan and achieve career success. Set up an appointment with a UMGC Career Advising Specialist for additional support in your career journey.
Rhoda Smackum is a manager in Career Services and Alumni Relations at University of Maryland Global Campus. She has approximately 28,000 hours of work experience in the field of career development. Ms. Smackum enjoys working collaboratively, in partnership with students and alumni to identify career issues, match values with career choices and obtain meaningful work. She holds a Master of Arts degree from Bowie State University and a Bachelor of General Studies degree from the University of Maryland College Park. She is a Certified Master of Career Services (CMCS) and an Associate Certified Career Coach.