Career Breaks and The Comeback

Career breaks and the comeback

Career breaks occur for all sorts of reasons.  Some may choose to take a step back in favor of dedicated family time.  Others come by a career break following redundancy in the company.  Perhaps you’ve decided to enjoy different experiences, such as traveling or to rediscover your interests. Whatever the reasoning, here are 6 tips on navigating career breaks and the comeback.

Whatever motives got you there, the time may come when you decide to jump back onto the career ladder.

Getting a job can be daunting enough, but it can be even more unnerving once you’ve taken a break from work. You may feel anxious about starting a new job or you may worry that your skills are a little rusty because a lot has changed since you’ve been away from the workplace.

If you feel you’re in this situation, below are six effective tips to help increase your chances of getting hired following a career break.

Six Tips to The Comeback

1. Assess your situation

Many people make the mistake of jumping straight back into the first job they can find. Firstly, if you’re not sure about a job, the interviewer may sense your uncertainty and will be unlikely to take you further in the hiring process.

Secondly, if you secure a job that isn’t suitable for you, you could even find yourself job hopping frequently before you find the right one. It’s therefore important to take some time to assess your situation first and decide what you want to do. Open your mind and remember, what was right for you before your career break, may not be what the best fit is for you now.

2. Update your resume with your career break.

It’s common for a candidate to believe that a gap in their resume will ruin their career.

However, instead of seeing it as a handicap, see it as something positive that can differentiate you from other candidates. If you haven’t been working for a long period of time, don’t hide it. A break can provide lots of benefits that can make you just as, if not more hireable, even if it’s just been a chance for you to take a step back and re-evaluate your future career.

Add all the new skills you may have developed during your break, and explain how these can relate to the job you’re now applying for. 

For example:

Did you take a diploma course specializing in new technology?

Did you do volunteer work and develop your leadership skills, which will help you to lead a team more effectively? 

Or perhaps traveling the world helped to give you a much-needed confidence boost?

3. Network

When looking for your first job after a career break, don’t forget to use your existing connections. Spend some time reaching out to your previous colleagues, clients, friends, and family. Let them know that you’re seeking a new position.

They may have the perfect job for you or be able to point you in the right direction. This is also a good opportunity to prepare any potential references that could support your new job applications.

4. Be prepared for your interview

Before you attend your first interview, make sure you’re prepared to answer questions about your career break. You may be asked why you have a career gap and what you did with your time. Honesty is the first step. Make it clear what you did during your break and why you decided it was the right thing for you to do.

You could tailor your answers to demonstrate how your break will benefit the role you are now applying for. Think critically about some of the concerns an interviewer may have. They may wonder whether you’re ready to get back on the career ladder for example. In this case, explain why you have decided to re-join the workforce, whilst emphasizing your passion, drive, and focus.

5. Look for career returner programs

As well as using job boards to search for jobs, research the various career returner programs that may be available. Deloitte is just one example of an organization that runs this kind of scheme. Their return to work program lasts for 20 weeks and is aimed at men and women who have taken a career break. Whether the break has been for family or other reasons, the scheme provides tailored support and experience to help you readjust to being back at work.

JP Morgan is another business offering a similar scheme. Their global ReEntry Program provides networking and mentorship opportunities to senior executives who are looking to re-join corporate life after taking a career break.

6. Be confident

Whether you’ve been away from work for 12 months or 2 years, getting back into the hiring pool can be nerve-racking. However, the most important thing is that you remain confident in your abilities.

Without confidence, you can easily undervalue what you can offer an employer. Write down your skills and strengths on a piece of paper. Refer to this during your job search, to help give you a boost of energy.

If you’re uncertain, ask friends and family to share their feedback on where your strengths lie. They may offer some suggestions that you had not previously considered.

If you’re concerned that your skills are no longer up-to-date, take a refresher course. Make sure you do your research too. Look at the employer’s website and social media channels.

You should also look at their competitors, read the latest industry news and research industry trends. Knowing you have all the information you need, will help you to be much more confident, especially during interviews.

Everyone has their own career path

Taking a career break is more common than you may think, despite the stigma that is sometimes attached behind how potential candidates will fill that void. Everyone has different career ladders they climb at their own pace depending on what their goals are in life.

So if you’re feeling apprehensive about jumping back into the workforce after a career break, remember these tips to put you on the right path with renewed confidence.

Need to get ready for job search success?  Our team at PWU is here to help.

We offer Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Optimization, Recruiter Services, and Professional Career Coaching.

Book a free 15-min consult here https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

Overcoming Job Search Pain Points

Overcoming job search pain points

Without question, the process of job hunting is daunting. Truly this is a result of extreme competitiveness and a constantly evolving workforce no matter the industry.  The game has changed dramatically over the years so we assembled 6 points on overcoming job search pain points.

1. Working with Recruiters.

Recent studies we looked at found the average job posting gets 200-250+ applications. This, in turn, requires recruiters to work at quick paces to process applications in the hopes of finding ideal candidates.

Being seen is a much-understood frustration. So how do you aid the process?

Firstly, we recommended asking around your network to identify any possible recruiter referrals. Reach out, ask questions and see if you can set up some coffee meetings or quick phone conversations.  

You’re looking for a tenured recruiter that supports your skillset and has strong lines of recommendations. Keep in mind, you don’t have to be applying for a specific position to start the dialogue with a recruiter.  Just open a conversation and see where it goes.

Additionally, if no known recruiters come up in your network, generate a list of 2-3 reputable staffing firms in your area and start making calls.

Lastly, always remember, LinkedIn is the hotpot of professional networking. A search of your industry should pull up recruiters who specialize in what it is you have to offer.

2. Self-elimination.

Too often, job seekers aren’t taking chances when applying for positions.  A common phrase we hear is “Well, I can’t apply to position YXZ because it lists skills I don’t have.” 

We can’t stress this statement enough: Apply for or pursue positions even if you don’t have every skill or asset the position lists. It’s common for managers writing job descriptions to overshoot the actualities just to cover all bases. 

As a job seeker, apply the 80:20 rule during the application process. Apply for positions where you meet about 80%+ of the definitive requirements.  This is especially true if the position is within your desired industry and on your passion forward career path. 

3. Getting lost in the Applicant Tracking System.

Previously, we’ve talked extensively about the joys and wonders of ATS software.  To beat the algorithms, one must play the keyword game strategically.  Check out our blog from last week here for a few tips on ensuring your resume is ATS compatible.

4. Low Confidence.

It’s not uncommon for professionals to experience low confidence during job search processes. If you need a confidence boost, try some of these tactics:

Engage in self-reflection on why you’re a fit for each position you apply for.  Get out a pen and write a list of why you’re qualified for the position. 

Re-visualize a past, positive interview, essentially re-living it.  Close your eyes and go through the interview again, focusing on the details which contributed to a positive outcome.

Practice and repeat. Preparation is great for minimizing anxiety and ensuring you deliver a strong interview.  Instead of simply jotting down pieces of your elevator pitch or how you’d answer common interview questions, take the time to practice.

5. Network Leveraging.

Referrals are still the top resource managers and recruiters use to identify ideal candidates. Not only do referrals require less time to generate than other hiring channels but they statistically lead to a higher success rate. Referrals consistently prove to be better long-term performers. 

Yet, on the flip side, many job seekers are timid about engaging their network. Try making a ‘Network Outreach List’ of those who you could contact about possible openings in their companies. Then simply reach out and communicate.

 “I’m looking for a new job.  Is your company hiring? 

6. Always the Bridesmaid.

You know the saying and in job search, it goes more like this: “I keep being told that I was the second-place candidate” or “I was out beaten by another applicant, again.” 

There’s a lot we can say here, but it boils down to a few points.

Focus on building rapport in every interaction to increase your memorability. Whether it’s conscious or not, managers are more likely to lean towards candidates who they felt a connection with over candidates they didn’t. 

Engage in small talk, identifying commonalities, use their name multiple times during the interview. Be real. Be authentic. Establishing connections can be incredibly helpful in increasing your chances of getting selected. 

Finally, don’t sweat it. If all this overwhelms you, our team at PWU has just what you need.  We offer Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Profile Optimization, Interview Coaching, and Recruitment Services. 

Connect with us here for a free 15-minute consultation. https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

How To Properly Express Career Skills

properly expressing career skills

Sure, we get it.  Talking about yourself can be tricky.  You want to sound proud but at the same time not sound like you’re bragging.  You want to sound highly skilled but not come across as a know it all. Without a doubt, one of the top 3 client frustrations we hear is how to properly express career skills. 

If you’re new to the workforce than a shortage of well-rounded skills can be a limitation. For those with extensive years of work history, the challenge becomes that of streamlining an entire career into a cohesive, easy to read, list of skills. 

The goal is to get that interview.  Here are a few tips we use to keep the message tidy and descriptive.

Skills to Put on a Resume

Stating that you worked as a brand manager at Company XYZ is no longer enough to secure a job interview.  Even if you’re applying for the same position at another company.  The job market is heavily saturated so recruiters and hiring managers are seeking a combination of skills and specific traits associated with job titles. 

So, let’s make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to what skills should be listed on your resume.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the basic skills to show off.

1. Transferable Skills

Transferable skills are specific universal abilities. The most sought-after skills recruiters want to see include:

  1. Teamwork
  2. Leadership
  3. General Organization, Motivation, and Time Management Skills
  4. Communication Skills
  5. Creativity
  6. Analytical or Critical Thinking and Numeracy Skills

These are skills we can all relate too however not everyone can deliver efficiently.

Take public speaking for example. Not everyone can handle the stress of standing in front of an audience, especially that of skeptical clients or stakeholders. That’s why you should provide examples of what it looks like when you use that skill.

Put the skill in the context of actual achievement to show hiring managers the impact you have when you’re in action.

2. Job Specific Skills and ATS Keywords

To sieve through large numbers of resumes, companies are turning to applicant tracking systems. This software crawls through applications in search of specific words and phrases, including skill keywords.

Here’s the problem — the algorithms behind the software understand only as much as you tell them. You can’t depend on them to infer your skillset from the jobs you’ve held.

So, how can you improve your chances of having your skills recognized by a resume reading robot? Check out our previous article on how to optimize your resume for ATS for a few tips.

Sharing your unique set of skills requires more than just listing your skills one-by-one in the skills section. To stand out from the crowd, be specific.

If you lead a team of sales representatives, don’t just add “leadership” to the list, share more details like the example below:

Leadership Skills

  1. Lead a team of 4 sales representatives who generated 25% of total sales revenue and outperformed 7 remaining teams.
  2. Motivated team to increase their productivity by 17%.

Being explicit about your abilities isn’t limited to general skills like communication skills, teamwork, or leadership. Do the same for technical skills as well.

A skills section should be the mainstay of any resume.

Ideally, a recruiter or hiring manager should glance at your skills section and see the requirements they’re seeking as well as your unique capabilities.

Need help?  Our team at PWU offers Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Optimization and Recruiter Services. Book a free 15-min consult here https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca