Ask Adecco brings you job-search advice from our experts. In our first installment, we asked Adecco Canada’s Director of Talent and Employee Relations, Marla Goddard, about extended absences.
What advice do you have for someone who doesn’t know how to start the process of returning to the workforce after an extended absence?
Preparing to re-enter the workforce will take work! It’s all about thinking strategically about what you want and formulating a plan to get there. To get started, I’d recommend updating your resume. This lets you take inventory of your skills, certifications and references, and will help you identify areas that need to be updated.
Skills and certifications
Are there any transferable skills that you can add to your resume? Even if you developed them while doing tasks completely unrelated to the types of jobs you’re looking for, soft skills such as organization or communication, and other skills like record-keeping, can be added to your resume to help demonstrate continuous learning.
Depending on the amount of time you’ve been away, you may want to think about taking refresher training or additional classes to help you get back up to speed with the skills and knowledge that your industry requires. And don’t forget about any certifications that may have expired while you were away; work on renewing your certifications to show potential employers that you’re up-to-date on industry knowledge.
You will also need to spend some time on your LinkedIn profile. While your updated resume will be useful here, it’s not all you’ll need to ensure you have a suitable LinkedIn profile. Add a summary introducing yourself and what you’re looking for. Join groups related to your profession and field, and start adding to the ongoing discussion to demonstrate your knowledge. Also, don’t be afraid to post about re-entering the workforce — you never know who might have an opportunity that would be perfect for you. LinkedIn is an invaluable resource when looking for a new job, so make sure to spend some time exploring its features and how they might help you.
Now that you have an understanding of your skills and the job market, you should also start reaching out to your network. Telling your network about your return shouldn’t be restricted to your LinkedIn network; start with your personal network and move outward. Don’t forget about former colleagues. Not only will reconnecting with your network help get you top-of-mind with people who might have an interesting open opportunity, it helps you confirm references from people who can tell potential employers how great you are.
If you feel that your network could be bigger, consider joining professional associations or groups where people with similar professional interests or skill sets gather. Attend meetings and networking events to get the most out of your membership. Consider events put on by your local chamber of commerce or board of trade. Industry-specific seminars are another great opportunity to expand your network while updating your knowledge-base.
Should extended absences be included in resumes?
While you don’t have to go into too much detail, it’s a good idea to address the employment absence in your timeline. Even if you indicate that the time spent away from the job market was due to “family responsibilities” or “travel,” explaining your absence helps bridge the gap for potential employers. Prepare your elevator pitch and remember to be confident with your response!
What are the next steps?
While we all want to immediately find the perfect job, it will probably take some time to find your next opportunity. Always remember the following:
Things in the workplace can change rapidly. Whether it’s new technology or skill requirements, people or organizational structures, by remaining flexible and open to learning new things, you’ll be well-positioned to succeed.
Consider all your opportunities
While it’s frustrating to realize that you may not be able to return to the level of seniority you had before your absence, consider the opportunity separately from the job title. Remember, this could be your stepping stone to other opportunities down the road.
Work out the logistics
Before you commit to anything, ensure that you’ve worked out the logistics of your return to work. Do you have adequate child or elder care in place? Have you identified your preferred commute time? Once you’ve done this, you may want to consider alternative work options to ease into a new routine.
Don’t overlook the benefits of the following work options.
- Consider volunteer work to brush up on your skills and network with like-minded individuals. It can also help you ease into a work routine while contributing to your community.
- Part time or temporary work can help you (and those in your life who will be affected by your return to work) become adjusted to a new routine. Even if the ultimate goal is to find full-time work, a part-time or temporary position can help you identify what you’re looking for in your new career.
- Investigate work-from-home or telecommuting positions that can help you bridge home-life needs with work opportunities.
- Consider a staffing agency like Adecco where we can help you get back into the workforce, so you can earn a paycheque while building your experience.
With these tips, re-entering the workforce doesn’t have to be a daunting task. For help finding your next favourite job, check us out here.
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Marla Goddard is Director, Talent and Employee Relations at Adecco Canada. She jointly supports over 350 colleagues and 12,000 temporary Associates in all aspects of Human Resources Management. She has a passion for people which shows in the work she has done in the areas of employee relations, recruitment and helping Adecco Canada be a great place to work.