If you’ve been out of work for a few months or several years it’s often tricky to know how to go about finding your ideal job. Suzie Skipper, writer and mum of 4, asks the experts for some top advice on getting back to work after a career break.
It’s easy to worry that if you’ve been out of work for some time that you aren’t employable anymore but it’s simply not true. Many companies will be keen to reconnect with you. Don’t worry about out-of-date skills as everyone has to constantly re-learn with the pace of change today.
Write down all the things you’ve done both professionally and during your career break. Mandy Garner, editor of jobsite www.workingmums.co.uk says: “Involvement in the PTA or organising school events enhances important skills that are transferable and it’s easy to underestimate them.” Read here about how to gain more confidence.
Get a coach
A professional coach can really help you work out what you want out of your new job and how to go about getting the role you really want. Investing time in working out what you really want and how to get it is often very powerful for most people. Perhaps you need to rebuild your network or move to a completely different industry? To find qualified coaches in your area try the www.lifecoach-directory.org.uk. Not all qualified coaches are members of a professional body but you can ask for references and check them out on Linkedin.
Time to Look
Take looking for work seriously by setting aside time. “Unless you make time to research and look for work, it’s not going to happen. You need to let go of some of the things you do for everyone else, even if it’s just for a few hours a week,” says Katerina Gould, Co-founder and Director of www.womenreturners.com.
Use your Network
Networking has never been easier. Broadcast the news that you are back in the job market and join professional network, https://uk.linkedin.com, which will give you a platform to contact old colleagues or contacts. Don’t forget to tell friends, family and school-gate acquaintances as you never know who might be looking for someone like you! Use your networks to find flexible openings.
Read the trade press, join a professional association, go to a conference, talk to friends or colleagues who are working in the world you want to join to find out what’s happening etc. You may feel the need to update skills too. Look at online courses such as www.learndirect.co.uk, www.open.ac.uk or www.reed.co.uk. Or try volunteering. Giving your time free to a charity can give you the opportunity to update skills and gain fresh experience. Try http://do-it.org or http://timebank.org.uk.
Write a functional cv, listing your skills and achievements, rather than a chronological one, says Mandy Garner. Tailor your CV to each job. “Your CV should be absolutely 100% focused on the job you are applying for – highlighting your skills and experience in that area,” says Veronica Wint, the ‘back to work expert’ and head of www.timewiserecruitment.co.uk. Start with a short personal profile no more than five lines at the top of your CV which tells the reader what experience you have. “It doesn’t matter how long ago that experience was gained. You are the same person, with the same skills and value to offer a prospective employer, so take heart,” says Veronica.
Don’t try to hide the fact that you have taken a career break. Be proud about the time you took out for family, about that hobby, or about the voluntary work you undertook. If you gained any work-related skills in that period do mention it but make it short. Experience and skills gained from previous employment should make up the vast majority of your CV, says Veronica.
Flexible working possibilities are endless today–maybe from you could work from home, do longer hours longer hours over fewer days or shorter hours over a week. Or even just term-time work. A smart phone and lap top are the tools that will help you. Try www.timeetc.co.uk or www.virtualassistants.co.uk for virtual work from PA duties to marketing and journalism. Keep the commute down to a minimum by looking locally in the local press and on www.gumtree.com.