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Ask your career coach: "Do I need to update my skill set to land my dream job?"

I am a strong believer in taking a proactive approach in all areas of life, particularly in regard to your career. How you position and prepare yourself to land your desired job is an essential part of a relauncher's forward movement.

By Arjan Eenkema van Dijk

Arjan Eenkema van Dijk, MBA, is a certified Executive Coach, speaker and facilitator and an expert in leadership development, personal branding, communication, career transition, and positive intelligence. As Founder and President of InspireShift, LLC., Arjan works both nationally and internationally with executives, leaders, business owners and individuals to define and attain their leadership and career objectives.

Before you begin, look up potential job openings that may be of interest and compare your qualifications to the job requirements. Don't underestimate yourself. I recommend you creatively consider your past work and volunteer experience to determine which skills are transferable. Once you identify what abilities you possess, which are missing and which merely need updating, you may find that you can greatly benefit from volunteering, augmenting your education or interning. These three tactics will allow you to engage in your area of interest, to familiarize yourself with the newest trends and to add meaningful relationships to your network. In addition, you can boost your self-confidence and strengthen your positioning in the job market.

Volunteering is an excellent way to garner considerable work experience. The key is to "volunteer strategically" with future employment in mind. Apply for a volunteer position where you can expand your industry experience, learn particular job functions, and improve technological and organizational proficiencies - all talents that will increase your "hireability." Furthermore, strategic volunteering can lead to employment with the company or not-for-profit where you are investing your time. A litigator returning from a 4-year career break who volunteered in a regulatory compliance role at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute ended up in a full time job there managing non-clinical research.

Whether or not to pursue an additional degree or supplemental education is directly related to the job requirements. Certain professions require updated certifications. For example, a quality engineer who was returning from an 11-year career break saw that every job description she was interested in required either LEAN or Six Sigma certification. Once she was LEAN certified, she was a competitive candidate for the roles she sought, and was ultimately hired.

Others require proficiency in particular computer programs, in which case you may be able to enroll in an on-line course or a webinar. In addition, professional development seminars and conferences -- such as those offered by iRelaunch -- help to develop skills, understand the marketplace and build networks. When changing careers completely, you may need to pursue an additional degree, or at the very least, a certificate program. An investment in your education usually leads to higher income potential, job satisfaction, and networking opportunities.

If you're looking for an immersive training experience where you will quickly identify and refine the skills needed in your new career, apply for an internship. Many internships are paid and often lead to full-time positions. Visit for an overview of internships opportunities offered in a variety of industries.

So, in order to improve your "hireability," consider volunteering, exploring internship opportunities or expanding your knowledge base. You'll become a stronger and more desirable job candidate and a more effective employee.

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