There are seasons of life in which duties call to us, and it requires us to let go of the vocational side of life to handle the other, more pressing areas. While there is great satisfaction in caring for aging parents, welcoming a new child into the family, or taking care of our own health, it can feel isolating, lonely, and discouraging to enter back into the workforce after being out of it for an extended period of time.
While these feelings are normal, it doesn’t always feel like acknowledging that helps the reentry process at all. So, here are four tangible ways to market yourself and make sure your future employers find you and value you after a period of unemployment.
1. Refresh your online presence and résumé
Today’s world is a digital one, and while it may not be the same as when you left the workforce, it’s a tool that anyone can harness without much extra training. Revisit your social media platforms, and make sure they reflect the best aspects of the person that you are today. Political, religious, and social views are personal, but if your social media platforms are public, these things could affect how future employers views you.
Get back onto networking sites like LinkedIn and update them with any newly acquired skills, such as languages or professional development courses. It can feel a little strange to promote yourself in such glowing terms but understanding that you have valuable skills to offer employers can help give you the boost you need to see yourself in a positive and employable light.
One of the most important parts of your LinkedIn profile is your headline. These are the words that will show up the most on people’s screens through both organic interactions and targeted searches. Make sure they concisely communicate your gifts and talents.
2. Fill in any education gaps
Another advantage to this digital workplace is the opportunity to educate yourself on current trends and requirements in the workforce – often for free! There are plenty of online courses offered for various vocations, from technology courses offered by MIT and Harvard, to design courses by Adobe.
Any courses, books read, and areas studied can be added to your online presence by writing articles summarizing the programme or book, adding new skills to your LinkedIn profile, or in some cases, by paying for official certification on completion of a course. Which journals do you read? Have you contributed to any projects in the past? What do you know now that you didn’t before? Identify your interests and past contributions to help build your personal profile.
Another option is to find yourself a mentor to receive coaching from established professionals in your field. There are many freelancing, writing, engineering, and technology-related coaching services available. These usually require a small investment, but can yield high-paying results because of the one-on-one instruction you’ll receive.
3. Start networking like crazy
After you’ve followed steps 1 and 2, by sprucing up your online presence and updating your education history, start connecting with past colleagues, schoolmates, and friends both on these platforms and in person. Schedule a phone call or a lunch date to catch up, and find out what’s been happening in the workplace since you left.
Once you’ve reconnected with these people, view these relationships as potential avenues for new career opportunities. Interact on social media platforms, especially LinkedIn, with comments, shares, and original articles. If there’s someone you admire, write a quick message to introduce yourself and share how they’ve inspired you. Take chances — you have nothing to lose! Approach employers that you want to work for and let them know you’re already a fan of what they do and that you want to contribute your talents to further their success!
4. Adjust your own mindset
Your biggest challenge in getting over unemployment and landing that next job is your own mindset. Instead of viewing your period of unemployment as negative or a waste, recognize it for the positive personal development that it has wrought in your life.
Begin treating your free time while looking for a job as the beginning of your employment — use those hours to network, read, educate yourself, and take care of your own health. When salary is needed, stress levels can be high and our attempts to find work can be desperate. Instead, look at what you have to work with — free hours during the day, an able mind, and talents that make you unique — and figure out ways to build upon these gifts (like the ways mentioned above).
Spells of unemployment can happen to all of us, but once it’s time to start looking for work again, the past is behind us and a fresh, new start is available to us. Look for ways your past experiences have made you into a better employee, and maximise those areas without feeling like you have to explain the time away. You have great gifts and talents to offer in whatever field you’re passionate about, and there are employers looking for someone just like you! These four tips will serve you well in getting you back on your employment feet, and back into the workplace.