Coming Back to Work After a Break

What’s the best way to present yourself when you decide to re-enter the workforce after a break?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

As I prepare to return to the job market after taking a deliberate break for the past four years, I struggle with how to present myself. Through a written resume, social media or in person—what is the best way to make connections?

MS
Short Hills

 

Jumping back into the job market after taking a break or sabbatical can be overwhelming. The market is challenging at present and the approach to connecting has changed significantly with social media and online presence that did not play a prominent role in the past.

Reconnecting with your network from prior work experiences is easier now due to social media. If you lost contact, you can typically find individuals on one of the many social boards. If you are interested in re-connecting with an old company, try connecting through LinkedIn where you can view current employees, new hires, former employees, recent changes and promotions.

Typically, one of the best ways to initiate connections is to begin to let your inner social circle know that you are interested in re-entering the job market. Begin exploratory discussions with them. Ask this inner circle for contacts that may be able to help you connect to selected companies or for opportunities that play into your skills and strengths. As this circle of connections grow, keep looping back to the people who gave you referrals and inform them of your activity and thank them.

When you do not know what you want to do next, try exploring job boards by advanced search and search on key words instead of searching by title. This option will show you listings that would never have surfaced based on title searches. As jobs are shifting and changing with the influence of social media and technology, there are many new job titles that exist today that did not exist in the past.

Exploring career opportunities can be very time consuming so be prepared to enjoy the journey of discovery. Once you identify a few jobs that interest you, explore some social boards and find individuals with these titles and consider conducting an informational interview to learn more about this type of work, what skills are required, what education and certifications are expected and how to break into this area.

Another way to gain knowledge about a career is to follow some subject matter experts on social boards, blogs and ask questions or follow discussions. This can help you learn about new areas and the terminology or buzz words associated with them. Doing research in your local library with a reference librarian can open your eyes to many new possibilities and it is free. You can also return to your alma mater’s career services center for support. Each college and university differs in their offerings, so call and ask which services you may be able to use.

Remember, we spend a significant portion of our time working, so enjoying what you do is a great privilege and one for which you can plan. Speaking with a career coach may be helpful.

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About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice.  

Building on the Resumé

How can you get more information out there about you beyond your resumé?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on  MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

As I linger in my job search, partially because I delayed my hunt, I find myself wondering if I am presenting properly. My resumé has been edited numerous times yet there is not much traction. Help please.

CD
Short Hills

 

Being in transition, the politically correct term for being unemployed and in the midst of a job search, can have moments of bliss and moments of anxiety. The bliss may come from having the time to explore and the choice of how to spend your day, and the anxiety may come from not having an agenda to follow or a goal to achieve.

Having your resumé ready is important whether you are in job search or not. Preparing your resumé properly is an excellent process as it forces you to examine your skills and abilities relative to the demands of the marketplace. Resumés are one element of the multimedia marketing platform required today. How you present in today’s market involves an online presence as well. When was the last time you took a snapshot view of your online reputation? Are you satisfied with it? Think about where you want to take it next.

Think about how much exposure you want and need online based on what you do or wish to pursue. If you are a in a business that requires you to be a subject matter expert, then consider blogging or write a few guest columns on the subject. If you are breaking into a new field, consider following knowledgeable individuals in that area and then pose some thoughtful questions to engage in the dialogue.

Where you choose to engage with social media is up to you. Facebook is the “like” page. LinkedIn is the Rolodex with discussions and groups for information exchange. Twitter is exposure and sharing, and blogs tend to be topic specific based on the writer’s preferences. Is one better than the other? Not necessarily if you understand what you are trying to achieve. Which platform offers you the connections you need in your job search strategy?

A resumé cannot stand alone as most hiring managers will perform Internet searches on candidates before interviewing them. Their search can influence their decision to hire or not. Carefully consider what messages you have communicated and what you want to continue to communicate in the future. Determine what platforms work best for your targeted audience. This may include in person presence as well. Attending meetings, speaking or teaching will also enhance your reputation. Reputations are built over time and consistency of the message helps.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice.