Starting a job search can unnerve even seasoned senior executives. When the search follows a career hiatus, as it does for many women who plan a return to the workforce, the psychological stakes climb even higher.
As someone who's been a recruiter, an employer and a mother in transition, I know how hard it is to maintain your confidence. Here are 10 tips for an easier re-entry.
- Network. Network everywhere - on elevators, in airports, at the gym, and at gatherings of any sort. Join a professional association, get back in touch with former colleagues, and build your social media presence. You never know where you'll find your next lead; I've met candidates while going out for ice cream.
- Update your skills and knowledge. Read industry trades. Consider a class to sharpen your skills. If you have an MBA, check to see if your alma mater offers training for alums returning to the workforce.
- Figure out how to frame your hiatus in a business context. Maybe you managed a budget, raised money or increased membership for a volunteer organization. You want to show that you've used relevant skills during your time away.
- Line up support. Surround yourself with people who encourage you. You may need your family to do more around the house or your friends to lend an ear or a mentor or coach to provide feedback and guidance.
- Do your homework. Job candidates often fail to learn enough about prospective employers. Do thorough research before any interview, and you'll set yourself apart.
- Be flexible. You may not return at your previous level and compensation. Think of the first job back as an opportunity to build skills, contacts and content for your resume.
- Target employers that value diversity. You may do best with either a large company that has invested in programs to help people returning to the workforce or with a small, flexible company with a culture that makes you want to come to work each day.
- Look the part. Dress codes may have shifted since you left the workforce. Find out what people wear in each office you'd like to join, and be prepared to dress to fit in. Pay attention to every detail from your hair to your shoes for the best first impression.
- Take care of yourself. Give yourself a break now and then to enjoy other activities. The job search may take longer than you'd like and probably will be at least as hard as the job itself.
- Believe in yourself. You have something important to offer: your talent. Remember your value and keep going no matter what, and you'll maximize your chances for a successful career relaunch.