So your career has been on hold for awhile. You’ve taken some time for yourself, whether it be to raise a family, pursue a hobby, or care for loved ones, and even though you have not been working.
But how to go about getting a regular job? Are you at a disadvantage having been out of the work force for a few years? Will nobody want to hire you? The answers are simply no and no; people who do good work will be able to find work, period. To help improve your chances and get noticed by potential employers, you need a good resume. Check out these Essential Resources for Crafting a Standout Resume to get you started. Once you have that figured out, here are some tips for anyone re-entering the job market after a lengthy hiatus.
Don’t defend your time off. In fact, do not make it an issue at all. If you want, address your reasons for being away from the work force in your cover letter, or just wait until the interview to explain, and not defend, your choice to raise a family, etc. and your newfound decision to get back to work.
Detail your past work experience. Just like on any resume, this is what is going to sell your candidacy — sell yourself. Talk about what work experience you have, and what projects you have completed with success. Describe what experience you have in the field you’re applying for a job in, and emphasize what skills you have to be an asset in that field.
Think about what you’ve learned while away from the job market. Really think about it, and be creative. Did you manage your family’s finances? If so, did you teach yourself Quicken? These are absolutely skills that can be put on a resume. Along those lines…
Prove you’ve still been moving forward. Even though you have not been working per se, you can and must demonstrate you have still been progressing during your time away from a given career. Prove that you have learned new skills, or even better that you have been doing other things to stay active, such as ….
- Unpaid work is just as good on a resume as a paid position. If you have volunteered during your time off, include this — it will look great on your resume. Make sure to highlight any and all skills learned. Again, it’s important to show that you haven’t been twiddling your thumbs while away from the job market, and it’s even better if you can say you’ve had responsibility at an organization and have learned new skills or honed ones you already had.
- Prove you are ready to jump back in. And prove that the (re)learning curve will not be steep. Technological advances will most likely be the biggest barrier in many fields. Take classes or do research to get as up to date as possible, and include this in your resume. Show in your resume that even though you’ve been away, you have not been left in the dust.
- Don’t use a “functional format” for your resume. In constructing the actual resume, stay away from the “functional format” of listing skill sets first and then listing positions held last. Employers can be wary of this format, as it may look like you’re hiding something. Though attractive for those who have not worked in awhile and do not want to underscore this fact, don’t try to gloss over your time off with this kind of formatting.