Career Strategies for Returning to Work After Years Away

Who needs career strategies more than former SAHM’s (stay at home moms)?  How about those who’ve been ill or caring for a sick relative?   What if you took a sabbatical to see the world?  No one, including potential hirers, cares why you haven’t earned a salary for the past five years.  They have three questions:  1)  What do you want to do next?  2)  Why are you qualified to do it?  3)  How much do you charge for your services?  Until you can answer these questions any job hunting is futile — even talking to contacts.  Why?  Your contacts will ask the same three questions.  The point:  Job hunting consists of the exchange of useful information.  If only one side has the facts there can’t be an exchange.

returning to work

If you’ve been out of the workforce for a few years and are returning to work  you may be anxious about whether you’re competitive.  Technology has changed tremendously but people still perform on a bell curve from dreadful to outstanding.  Whether you have been gone  20 years or three, do not assume that everyone in any organization is competent, sane, and hard-working.

Now, that we’ve cleared the debris what are the steps to find the job you want?

1.  What skills have you most enjoyed using?  In what context?  For example if the only volunteer activity you truly enjoyed has been organizing fund-raisers — and successfully — you are probably destined for a sales-related career.  This is not the time to decide you should get into accounting.  If you’ve been finance chair of everything and loved it, there is a message.  If the only job you loved was carry coffee in a TV station you need to analyze that.

2.  Focus on identifying your skills for as long as it takes to gets answers.  It’s easy to connect the dots to specific jobs and organizations once you know your preferred skills.  If you’ve thought about skills until you are light-headed get any copy of What Color Is Your Parachute? and work the exercises in the back.  They are useful.  If all else fails, write a work autobiography.

3.  If you reach an impasse —  you’ve been thinking about your skills for two weeks and you haven’t concluded anything but that you have two teenagers destined for private colleges — stop and get help from a career planner.  Do not take advice from people with counselling degrees but no real world experience.  They’re teaching from textbooks,  not experience.

4.  Set deadlines and meet them absolutely.  The first time you say you’ll do it tomorrow you’re on the road to failure and demotivation.  If you said you’d make a decision by Friday, that means Friday at midnight.

5.  Back track as soon as you realize you’ve made a mistake.  I had a client who wanted to work in publishing.  She had terrific editing skills.  She got several interviews.  However, just after a series of interviews she realized she was back in the world of correcting other people’s’ writing a.k.a teaching — which she’d given up years before.

Finally returning to work will be awful if you don’t believe you can find a job you will love.  I have worked with so many people who took early retirement and then vegged because they could not suspend their disbelief that such a job existed.  How sad is that?

Contact Marilyn for Help With Career Strategies

Get your career on track pronto. Develop a successful strategy to get the job you want. Contact Marilyn Moats Kennedy now.

Related Posts:

Are You Reprising Yourself?

Have You Been Out of Work Too Long?

What If You Lack the Right Experience?

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Filed under Boomers, Career Strategies, Millennials and GenX