12 Strategies to Get You Back to Work

12 Strategies to Get You Back to Work

Clear steps to help you transition back to work.

1. Make sure you are ready.

Why are you going back to work? Is it to do the same thing or something different, perhaps because your interests or priorities have shifted? How much do you want to work — full time, part time? Check out this piece on Forbes.com, which discusses asking yourself if you are really ready, building up your confidence, and more.

This is a key first step to take before focusing on your job search.

2. Give yourself plenty of time.

Unless you need to go back to work immediately for financial reasons, start your process well in advance of when you think you will be ready to work (we think six months is good). Realize it can take months to find a job (on average it takes 16 weeks).

– Set benchmarks and goals during this period. What will you accomplish in month one, month two, etc.?

– Giving yourself time also will help you know what you need to work on if you have been out for some time. Do you need to take a class? Does it make sense to attend a conference related to the industry you’re interested in? Should you consider hiring a career or life coach?

3. Craft your story and practice it out loud.

What will you tell someone if they ask what you have been doing “while not working” and what you are looking to do — and why? If you’ve been focused on being a mom, how will you talk about this? Be prepared to answer “why now?” is the right time to be looking for work. Craft your story, own it and be confident.

4. Work your network.

Set up casual coffees and lunches with old colleagues or friends who may have good insight, or who have made the back to work transition. Tell them you’re starting the process of going back to work and what you are interested in doing — they may have good suggestions and likely are very willing to help.

5. Tell anyone who will listen that you are ready to head back. 

You never know who is listening and can help. My mom’s career was relaunched when someone at another lunch table heard her talking about the stock market. Maybe try the soccer sidelines? Realize that the playground is the new old boy’s club, with lots of networking opportunity — you can extend that concept to the soccer, basketball (name your kid’s sport) sidelines.

6. Perfect your LinkedIn profile.

Check out these 6 Do’s and Don’ts and take the time to make connections here as well.

7. Update your resume.

Resumes have changed since you worked. Trust us. Read our Resume Tips section for the latest on trends in resumes, and suggestions on making yours look great.

– Be sure to consider if the job you are interested in wants to see a resume at all (that’s right, some companies are moving away from resumes entirely).

– Ask a friend in the working world to send you a copy of her resume, or better yet, a copy of a resume of someone recently hired. You can also browse and download the resume templates in Google Docs and pick one that fits your industry best.

– Write a short synopsis of your skills. This is a good way to tell a lot about yourself in a small amount of space. Here’s mine from when I was working for WSJDN:

“Dynamic video journalist with broad expertise in business and financial news. Proven on-screen talent in live online video and television formats; adept at deadline reporting and long-form story-telling. Extensive experience in video production, including producing, reporting, writing, shooting and editing video. Accustomed to working with senior executives, personalities and industry leaders. Skilled writer across traditional and new media formats.”

– Find someone to review whatever you write. Everyone needs an editor.

– Hire a professional resume writer. This might cost a few hundred dollars but is totally worth it if it brings your resume into the modern world, helps you emphasize your skills, and helps you get a job.

– Here’s a good Forbes post on how to write a cover letter if you need one.

8. Get social — develop or clean up your online presence.

It’s key to getting a job these days and should represent the best of you. Use Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram — whatever medium suits you best — to show that you are thinking about the industry you care about. Tweeting and blogging are a great force-function for something else you should do, which is to refresh yourself on what’s happening in your industry. Read everything you can get you eyes on.

9. Know the tech trends.

Are you familiar with Slack, Trello, Basecamp, Asana, Slideshare, Vine, Google Docs/Drive/Office 365, Dropbox, how companies are using social media to manage customer service in real time, the shift to mobile advertising, etc.? If not, take the time to Google each and understand them.

10. Prepare for an interview.

Our career coaches offer a lot of advice in their posts that you can work with, but be sure to practice out loud with a friend or family member. You may also need to prepare for a video interview and to make sure you have the necessary tools and a good set up that presents you well.

11. Consider a returnship.

Think of this like an internship for the post-college crowd. We have some listed on our site, but you could consider calling a company that is advertising internship positions and suggesting this kind of situation. Wouldn’t it be great for them to get someone with your experience?

12. Think through your family’s transition.

Going back to work is a big change for you and likely a big change for your family. Make sure you feel comfortable about any childcare support you might need, prepping your kids for the working mom in their life, and enlisting your family’s support. Without these components in place you are likely to be distracted, worried or stretched too thin.

(Updated 2015)

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