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Employment Tips

Returning to the Workforce: Employment Gaps One Step at a Time
By:Heather Eagar

You’re really doing it. You’re going back into the rat race. After being out of the workforce for a couple of months - or even several years - it’s time to jump back in with both feet. But how do you do it?

I Can Do It

That’s your mantra for your job search. You’re concerned – even intimidated – by all those people out there who have a stellar work-record. But you know what? You have something special and unique that you can bring to an employer. That is what you have to remember throughout this whole process. You have to have confidence in yourself so that others will have confidence in you as well.

By all accounts, job seekers with a picture-perfect employment history do tend to have an advantage over you. Their resumes may be better received than those who are re-entering the workforce or are changing careers. But just because they may have an edge, doesn’t mean you can’t create your own.

Explain What You’ve Been Doing

This might seem like a very simple step, but oftentimes job seekers are afraid to address their employment gap in their resume package. However, if you ignore it, then the employer is left to fill in the gaps…usually not to the benefit of the job seeker.

In your cover letter, briefly explain why you’ve been unemployed. No need to go into great detail, but you should address it. While you’re at it, you can tell them what you’ve been doing with your ‘time off’ and how you’ve been constantly trying to improve yourself and enhance your skills. You’ve been doing this, right?

A Different Format May Be Necessary

Employers are used to seeing resumes in a certain format. When they see it differently, a red flag might go up. Why? Because it’s often a sign of a less-than-perfect work history. That’s okay. You can overcome that. Conduct a brainstorming session with yourself and write down all your skills and achievements. That is going to be your biggest challenge. It can be from past work history, what you’ve done while unemployed, or a combination of both. Then grab a couple of resume samples you can look at for help with formatting.

Interview as a Professional

Even if you’re a mom going back to work after several years, you have to leave that persona behind. The minute you speak to someone – via phone or in person – about a job, you are a job seeker in the professional world.

Interviewing is nerve-wracking even for job seekers who go through them every couple of years. It can be downright frightening for those who are returning to the workforce. One of the reasons for this is the lack of practice. Another one is lack of confidence. Sometimes, if you practice, practice, practice, the confidence will follow because you know you can present yourself in a professional manner and answer all those tough interview questions that are bound to be asked.

So for you job seekers going back to work, congratulations! You are embarking on a new chapter of your life. View it is a positive event, prepare yourself and your resume package and you just might find going back to work is an extremely satisfying and rewarding experience.

Heather Eagar

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