To re-enter the workforce after a long absence may seem a daunting experience. Writing a resume and getting a job can be intimidating, but even more so, if you have been out of the work force for several years, either raising kids or taking care of an elderly parent. I have been writing resumes for over 15 years and very often, I find myself sitting in front of a person that left the work force, for whatever reason, and now feels scared and “outdated” when trying to re-enter the work force.
Re-entering the workforce, can be challenging, but it can also be the best experience of your life. If you start thinking about re-entering the work force in advance, a year before the “actual” date, you are going to have more choices and time is going to be on your side. If you are waiting for the last minute, it may take you a longer but it is not impossible.
Before start writing a resume, ask yourself the following 5 questions. It will help you narrow down your choices and find a job that fits you better. If you are clear in what you want, you will look in the right places and you will have better chances of succeeding.
In the past, you made a choice and followed a career path, and this is the best time to assess that choice, before you re-enter the workforce. After being for several years out of the workforce and having been exposed to many experiences and challenges, you are ready to answer these questions.
#1. When I re-enter the workforce, do I want to go back to the same career/occupation I had before I stopped working?
Not everyone has the opportunity to have a new beginning. You may have the luxury to change your career without a lot of economic strain or you may be tight of money, full of responsibilities and having to be the major breadwinner; however, “Do I want to go back to the same career or occupation I had before I stopped working to raise my kids?” is the first and most important question that you should ask yourself.
If you do, Great! Most likely, you already have some experience and probably some education or background in the field as well as some past connections that you just need to rekindle. But if you decided that your old job is not for you anymore, Great again! You have a whole world of opportunities ahead of you. What I always tell my clients, and seems to work is: “Don’t start writing your resume just yet”. Do a little bit of soul searching, think of what you like and don’t like, maybe your interests have changed, maybe you discovered that you like things that were not in your agenda when you were working before you stopped working, maybe your circumstances have changed. Once you honestly and realistically answer this very important question ask yourself:
#2. What are my circumstances now?
Before you re-enter the workforce, you have to assess your present circumstances. This question will help you determine where to go. Are you in a position where you can take your time and wait to find your dream job or do you have to start working right away? How about your schedule? Be realistic here, how many hours can you really commit to working? Is it part time or full time? Do you have to drop and pick up your kids to and from school? Can you commute to the city? How far away are you from the city? Usually the big corporations are in the big cities. Are your kids involved in time demanding sports and activities? Once you answer these questions you will be able to determine if you are looking for a full or part time job in a big corporation or a small company close to home.
#3. Do I want to re-enter the workforce to pursue a career or to pay my bills?
Maybe you had a very successful career in the past, you are driven and now you want to go back to pursue that same career? Or would you like to pursue another one? Or maybe, you realize that you just want a job to pay the bills and have a comfortable life but nothing too demanding. Both options are equally valid and should be considered before you re-enter the workforce. It is very important to have a clear picture of which option or what is it that you want to achieve once your re-enter the workforce.
After being for many or a couple of years out of the work force, you may need some training to update your skills. Depending on the position and how involved you have kept yourself, you may need some training or you may decide to go for a long term training, or new career. Can you afford to take more training? Are you willing to spend the time to get the necessary skills to put you up to date? Or do you just want to go for a quick and short course that would help you start? How are your computer skills? In 3 or 4 years, new technologies may have developed; people may be doing things differently. How much time, money and work can you or are you willing to invest in this area?
#5. What new skills did I acquire during these years at home?
You may have a whole new skill set that you never thought about, that is not written in your resume and that can come in very handy now or can be your career goal. Take the time to sit down and write down EVERY SINGLE skill that you acquired since your stopped working. The smallest things may come in handy, give you the advantage needed to get the job, or open a new world or career for you. Did you learn how to cook? Bake? Sew? Gardening? Where you the PAC treasure? Where you organizing all the events? Think…. Think very hard and make a long list. Is there anything in that list that you really enjoyed and you would like to do for the rest of your life?
The answers to these five questions will help you determine what positions are good for you, which positions fit your needs and your present circumstances, whether you can commit or not. After answering these five questions very honestly, you will be ready to start writing your resume with a clear objective and knowing exactly where you are going, what you can give and what you need to do to get reach your goal.
A whole world is ahead of you. Now you can sit down and start getting a draft resume ready.