Maybe you’ve had to take time off to care for a loved one. Maybe you had tiny human beings at home to run around after, and now that they’ve stopped sticking their hands into the toilet bowl and started going to school you’re considering picking up where you left off in your career. Maybe you took a sabbatical, only to find that the Way of the Couch brought you inner peace, but now your parents are screaming at you to move out of the spare bedroom. No matter what journey you’ve been on over the past few years, getting back into the workforce can be tough for so many reasons. Here are some tips to help boost your confidence and prepare you to dive back into the job market.
Stay up to date
Before you even start applying for jobs, take a look at the state of your chosen industry and see if there’s any way you can increase your appeal. If you’re in tech, for example, chances are that certain tools and skills have become obsolete. If you’re planning on returning to the same industry, spend some time browsing job listings and take note of what employers are looking for, and what salaries they’re offering. Get in touch with your old co-workers and have a conversation about returning to the field. They may be able to provide you with some valuable insights.
Learn a new skill
Upskilling is a great way to keep pace with the times, and you’ll find that taking an online course, or signing up for a community class, will give you the chance to exercise your latent skills and get you back into that working frame of mind. A new skill always makes a pleasant addition to your resume, plus there’s the potential for networking with your new classmates.
Reflect on your hiatus, and decide what you’re looking for
What did you do in your time away from work? Did you master Photoshop? Did you complete a first-aid course? Did you start a home-improvement blog or learn how to knit? If it’s something you can add to your CV, like a certificate or a degree, all the better. But don’t worry if it isn’t. No matter what, it’s bound to come up in conversation with your interviewer, and it shows that you haven’t been idle.
Also ask yourself, what are you looking for? Do you want something easy going to pass the time? Are you looking for a life-long career? Do you need something that offers a specific salary range? These basic questions will help you avoid applying for something that may not be suitable for your current circumstance.
Update your resume and tailor your cover letter
Dust off your resume and give it new life by adding something fresh to it. Asides from updating it with new skills and courses you may have taken, check the format. Certain formats may have gone out of fashion, and you want to avoid giving off the impression that you’re outdated. Make sure that the style of your resume is acceptable, particularly if you’re looking at opportunities in a different industry from what you were in before. If you’re applying for something in business, a standard font with a black and white scheme will suffice. If you’re looking into something more creative, feel free to take liberties with the layout and colour scheme. Also, don’t forget to update your contact details if they’ve changed.
Do an online course
There is an abundance of free online courses out there. Digital Garage by Google has some great courses designed to help you return to an increasingly digitalised workplace. Websites such as FutureLearn.com provide a range of free online courses from universities and institutions around the world, and most of these can be completed at your leisure. Check with your local government and see if they have programs and incentives for individuals returning to the workforce. If you’re in Singapore, you’ll have access to the SkillsFuture Credit scheme, which gives you an amount of credit to put towards upskilling. Do a quick online search and see what opportunities are available in our area, and take full advantage of them.
Check your self-confidence
It is completely natural to have doubts about your ability to return to work. If you’ve been away for a while, it may feel as if the world has moved on and left you behind. Find ways to take the edge off. Don’t neglect your hobbies, and turn to your support group if you’re having a hard time accepting rejection. Practise mindfulness exercises, if that’s your thing, and keep doing the things you’re good at. Don’t define yourself by your rejections, rather, focus on your successes, and on what you’ve accomplished in your time away from work. A positive mindset is essential to help you walk into your next interview with confidence.
Be open to new opportunities
Somewhere along the way, you may be offered a job that you hadn’t envisioned for yourself, or you may stumble across an opportunity in an industry you wouldn’t have otherwise considered. Consider all your options carefully, and don’t be afraid to try something new and unexpected! A fresh start could be exactly what you need, and at the very least you’ll have a foot in the door.
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