Mary Beth Barrett-Newman is President of 2nd Career Consulting, She spent almost 30 years in the corporate world and brings her experience, expertise and enthusiasm as she coaches clients on their journey to a new position. Mary Beth is a frequent contributor to the iRelaunch blog and podcast and is a moderator of the the iRelaunch Return to Work Forum on Facebook.
What’s your New Year’s resolution? Is this the year for you to relaunch your career? Before you jump headfirst into a job search, taking a step back and focusing on why you’re considering returning to the workforce, what you’re looking for in that next position and what you need to do to get that job offer rather than the goal itself, will increase the probability that you’ll be successful with this resolution.
Why are you returning to the workforce? Are you bored in your current situation, do others think you should, have you always planned to return, or have life circumstances required it? Be honest with yourself. A thoughtful and honest approach to answering this question is critical.
If after assessing your current situation, you’ve decided that it is the right time to begin your relaunch, one way to start is by creating a list of your transferable skills. What is it you bring to an employer? Scour job opportunities online and look at the skills, expertise, qualifications listed. This is what employers are looking for and therefore should be what you emphasize in your resume, LinkedIn profile and cover letter. Putting the “equal sign” between what you’ve done (both paid and volunteer) and what an employer is looking for is the key to a successful job search.
What type of position are you looking for? While family members, friends and former colleagues can give you input and share ideas, you are the only one who can answer this question. The length of a career break can influence whether or not you return to your prior field. Those with longer career breaks may no longer want to return to their prior field as they may have discovered other areas of interest during their career break that they want to pursue. Reflect back – what aspects of your prior paid & volunteer positions did you like, what are the strengths/skills you will bring to a new employer?
What do you need to do to find that new opportunity? Is there a gap between the type of position you’re interested in and your current skills? Maybe you’re not sure. Certainly, having a solid resume that focuses on your quantifiable accomplishments and a robust LinkedIn profile are important tools, but what else is required? Again, look at those online job postings. Do you have the education, certifications, software and/or systems knowledge required? If not, should you take classes or acquire certifications to acquire these? The best way to find out the true answer is to start talking to people that are currently working in the field, industry or position you’re targeting. You want to spend your time and money investing in areas that employers truly value.
And what about networking? The percentage of people who find a new position through networking is significantly higher than those who blindly apply online with no one championing them internally. Set a networking plan in place – reach out to one or two (or more) people a week, join some industry groups where you can meet others in your field, participate online via blogs and social media like Twitter and LinkedIn. Share information, relevant articles and become a trusted resource for others. Get your name out there.
Just like losing 10 lbs. by increasing exercise and incorporating a healthy diet, successfully relaunching your career can be accomplished by assessing “why” you want to return to work, “what” you need to get there and “networking” your way to that new position.