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Creating an Effective Return to Work Plan after a 12-Year Gap!

Having a plan will put you in a mindset for success.

By Lisa Fenton

Lisa Fenton CSCMP is a speaker, writer, and supply chain management professional. Listen to her podcasts on "3, 2, 1, iRelaunch" - Episode 101: “What Does ‘Supply Chain’ really mean? And if I’m good at logistics, can I relaunch in that field?” and Episode 72: "Creating an Effective Return to Work Plan."

When it comes to mapping out your return to work there is so much to consider. Having a game plan in place will help you transition from unemployed to employed. Having strategies and tools which help define the most cost- and time-effective use of your energy will be a valuable part of your journey. The game plan ensures you consider not just yourself but all of the elements.

Before the plan

What’s going to help put you in the best position to move forward? Think of how you can reassume a professional presence, upgrade your skills, transition your family and get in that positive mindset. Prepare professional interview attire, update your hair style, create a networking card with your top skills, contact details, and tag line. Define your timeline, budget, and area of search. Knowing this will help define the scope of your search.

Create the plan

What companies are doing well? Even in challenging economic times there are companies that are doing well. Check out a current local economic report and consider those companies as potential places of employment. Look at the most common postings at these companies and the most common skills they are looking for. Compare these skills to your skills to see the gaps, put into a gap analysis tool, and rank in order of importance with the costs and time included. Then your plan is clear and defined. What’s going to help your family make this transition as well? Consider child care cost, hours, transportation to and from, how quickly could these arrangements be put in place? How can you update your skills, get a current and/or previous reference(s), prepare your resume, cover letter, and professional mindset.

Executing the plan

Where can you find opportunities? Opportunities are everywhere, with your networking card it’s easier to feel like you're a professional. Professional association events are a great way to meet peers, presenters, and professors. Having a networking card helps you feel as though you're one of them - it’s a great conversation starter. Cold calls and canvassing business areas are another way to find opportunities. Research websites to get contact details. Don’t be afraid to leave a message stating your name, previous areas of expertise, and contact details. Share your journey with everyone you meet, as they may know of an opportunity or of a future opportunity.

Preparing for the Interview

Treat the interview like a research project, research the company, products and services, people interviewing you, and any current events. Get in a professional mindset, brush up on current events in your industry and your area of expertise. Present yourself as a professional - have your networking card, extra copies of resume, a good pen, portfolio and your professional attire in order. Reach out ahead of time to current and previous bosses/employers and send them a copy of your resume so they are comfortable and prepared to support you. Bring any work or projects you have done even if self-taught - it’s a great chance to show your current skills. Have questions prepared to help you determine if this is a good fit for you: Is this a company which supports further education? Do they have good initiatives? Do they have good will in their industry? Are the socially and sustainably responsible? Do they support and align with your beliefs and objectives?

Moving forward from a first career position

"How can I put myself in the best position to move on either within the company or externally?" Ask lots of questions! Don’t be afraid to take examples of how others get through their day and incorporate it into your way of accomplishing your duties. Be open to learning, and if possible learn more than just the required information. Don’t fear technology. So many candidates have this working against them; many programs are really similar once you start using them. Consider what type of information you need to learn or master in the next position you want to move to.

This one’s going to sound funny but visualize where you want to go next. I can tell you, this worked for me when looking to transition internally.

Don’t fear championing for yourself, we often support others before ourselves, if done diplomatically it can work.

Don't relaunch alone!

Join our growing relauncher communities on Facebook and LinkedIn. For more great guidance on your relaunch and updates on when return to work programs are accepting applications, events for relaunchers and more, be sure to sign up for our Return to Work Report and follow us on social media to stay informed!

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