We hear many stories of why women find themselves in the
midst of a career break, ranging from the irresistible lure of motherhood,
unexpected health issues, relocation, downsizing, to caring for elderly
parents. People step out of their careers for many reasons, but few anticipate
the struggles in re-entering the workforce. Regardless of the motivation for
exiting or even re-entering the workforce, the struggle to get back in is
We experienced this firsthand. Anju took time off from her career in management consulting to take care of her sons, while Anne-Barbara, an expat from the Netherlands, found herself in transition due to relocation. We continue to hear from other moms on how overwhelming and isolating the re-entry process is.
So what did we do? We muddled through it, reconnected with contacts, read up on industry developments, and brushed up on technology changes. What we realized is that there were new rules, redefining job search and career success. Along the way, we discovered a few tips worth sharing:
Re-entry Tip 1: Be curious, share information, and collaborate with colleagues and employees.
The way we work has changed. Workplace dynamics have shifted where transparency and collaboration are valued over information hoarding and individual success. Employers are looking for collaborators both in individual contributor and leadership roles. Get familiar with collaboration tools like Basecamp, Yammer, Google Apps, etc. so this is in your vocabulary.
Re-entry Tip 2: Dip your toes in the social pool and jump in.
A Linkedin profile is the bare minimum. You can go on from there to explore Twitter, Pinterest, Quora and other industry specific forums. Being “social” no longer means happy hour. You can no longer bury your head in the sand and avoid social media. Social media is here to stay and embracing it (even just for professional purposes) is critical in building your personal brand, establishing credibility, and expanding your network.
Re-entry Tip 3: Use the summary section of your resume to customize the resume for each job you apply for.
The way we look for jobs have changed. Long gone are the days of paper resumes on premium paper and cover letters. With 90% of resumes being submitted on-line, your shot at making a great first e-impression lies solely within the first few lines of your resume.
Re-entry Tip 4: Customize your resume with keywords from the job description.
The way we tailor our resumes for jobs has changed. It is no longer effective to create a custom cover letter to submit along with your resume. It goes into the “e-slush pile.” With more and more companies using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS,) your resume must make it through the electronic filter before it ever reaches human hands.
Re-entry Tip 5: Google yourself and make sure your search results reflect your professional identity.
The way employers vet potential candidates have changed. Often, after a 30-second resume scan, employers do their primary research. They go straight to Google, Facebook and LinkedIn. Any public information will form the next layer of your e-impression. A professional LinkedIn profile, your profile picture, the number of connections, and recommendation you do (or don’t) have are deciding factors.
Re-entry Tip 6: Emphasize your inherent skills that you have honed over the years such as communication, professionalism, maturity, and emotional intelligence.
Being “older” can be an asset. With many baby boomers retiring, employers are looking for mature talent to take on leadership roles and adapt to working with the millennial workforce. Our partner companies tell us they place value not only talent and functional skills, but also a portfolio of other “soft-skills.”
Re-entry Tip 7: Check out companies with returnship programs in your area - a great way to get your foot in the door.
Internships are not just for college kids. Facing tight labor supply and lack of diversity at leadership levels, companies are looking for unique ways to find talent. Many companies have in-house paid-returnship programs for returning career professionals. The successful completion of a paid “returnship” opportunities can lead to a permanent arrangement.
Re-entry Tip 8: Attend educational and networking events.
Networking is a critical part of job search; what we find is that many anchor their job search to sitting behind a computer. We encourage you to get out from behind your computer and treat networking as a must. Try to attend an event a week (at least.)
To Your Success,
To Your Success,