It’s a New Year! What’s on your list of resolutions? If you’re on career break and have decided this is your time to return to work, position yourself for success with the following six action steps.
Spend some time documenting your career successes, failures, and important experiences. Be specific. Think back on your past work and volunteer experiences and recall anecdotes from each to illustrate your skills and background. Add everything you document to a file and review it before attending interviews.
Make a list of contacts -- old colleagues, classmates, fellow volunteers, friends -- to talk to about your relaunch. Choose at least 5 to contact each month and schedule the outreach as appointments on your calendar. If you are early stage in your relaunch and still figuring out exactly what you want to do, let them know you are in information-gathering mode. Ask old colleagues about changes in the industry. Ask close friends to be a sounding board as you talk about past experiences to identify what you love and are best at. Join the private iRelaunch Return to Work Forum on Facebook to get advice and insight from other relaunchers. If you know exactly what you want to do, then have more specific conversations about what books and articles and experts to follow to get the latest and best thinking in your field.
If you are figuring out what you want to do, use the Job Building Blocks method outlined in my book, Back on the Career Track (affiliate link). For each of your prior, significant work and volunteer experiences, identify the components that went into each of these roles. Then identify those components you love the most and are best at, and extract them. Do this for every experience you have listed. Using the extracted components, you can build back up a new career path for yourself. You can do this on your own, with the help of a career coach, or with a group of trusted friends. Make sure to consult the alumni career services office of your alma mater as they might provide access to discounted or free career assessment tools and in some cases, free coaching to help you interpret the results.
"Strategic Volunteering" is a great way to explore new fields, refresh skills, meet new people, and get resume worthy experiences on your resume. Pick roles that are relevant to your career goals. For example, if you are interested in managing construction projects, get involved in a weekend building project with Habitat for Humanity. You can find some great resources for strategic volunteering on the following websites: idealist.org, volunteermatch.org, catchafire.org.
5) Get Out of the House!
Whether it's Toastmasters, university lectures, a social event, or a professional association event, getting out of the house is crucial for a successful relaunch. You cannot conduct your relaunch from behind your computer at home! While it’s true that researching companies and applying online can be part of a larger job search effort, but meeting with people in person is key. Ease yourself in by attending relatively low-key events such as an iRelaunch Return to Work Conference in which you can simply introduce yourself to the people sitting next to you, and work up to professional events which will be more demanding of you in terms of interacting.
6) Update Your Knowledge
Getting up to speed in your field will give you confidence and provide excellent material for conversations when talking with professional colleagues. When talking to those knowledgeable in your field, ask what industry publications they read and what experts they follow. Once you research these experts and read these publications, you can contribute insightful comments like "did you see the article about x that just came out in professional journal y by expert z? What did you think?" Or "Expert c's new book was certainly controversial in my opinion!" Being an active learner is also an effective way to overcome age-ism concerns -- your knowledge and enthusiasm will be what people pay attention to instead of your age.
If you are interested in following a guided career-reentry strategy based on the experiences of thousands of relaunchers who returned to work and the guidance of experts in the field, the steps above and much more are available to you inside the iRelaunch Return to Work Roadmap.
Whether you are contemplating a career break or returning from one, we are rooting for you at iRelaunch. Happy New Year!