Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Re-entry into the Workforce

Every year hundreds of thousands of people re-enter the workforce after extended time off—caring for their children or an elderly parent, as a result of a health issue, after serving in the military, and a host of other reasons. If you are currently planning or at some future point expect a re-entry into the workforce, the following tips may be helpful.

Be positive about your return to the workforce and do not be apologetic about your time away. Whether you’re returning by choice or necessity (as a result of a spouse’s lost income, divorce or other reason) what’s important is that you communicate a level of enthusiasm and willingness to reconnect yourself to your career.

Consider and explore career options. You’ve had new life experiences and possibly shifted your priorities during your time away from the workforce. This is an opportunity to explore other careers and identify whether you’d be interested in pursuing a new career path or in returning to your past occupation.

Assess your skills and identify which skills transfer to occupations of interest, as well as core skills that are relevant across occupations and industries.

Inventory new skills. You’ve likely developed or sharpened many skills during your time away from the workforce. Think about your volunteer work, freelance or other self-employment activities, continued education courses or professional development seminars, and even how your global travel experiences (which build cultural awareness) can give you an edge.

Fill in the gaps. If you’re lacking a skill such as proficiency in Excel that can be readily solved by taking a course or two, do so. These types of courses are commonly available through community continued education programs and are typically inexpensive.

Maintain your professional contacts. Whether you’re out for a period of several years or several months, it is important to maintain contact with former employers, co-workers and others in your profession. Join a professional association, extend a lunch invite, or connect via a professional social media site like LinkedIn, etc.

Keep current in your industry and occupation. Read trade magazines, attend an occasional trade show or conference, use an email account to set industry news alerts, and follow industry leaders through news articles or via Twitter, etc.

Research and research some more. Be sure to conduct thorough research on careers and industries, including their projected growth and average salary figures, and do your homework on companies you plan on targeting in your job search.

Re-entry into the workforce can be an exciting time, but can also be a bit overwhelming. Be sure to tap into all the information and tools that Career Transitions offers to help make your transition back into the workforce a smooth one.

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