Julie Swaner, Program Manager at University of Utah’s Alumni Career Services, says moms shouldn’t apologize for taking time off to raise a family.
There is no linear path in life and most people really don’t follow a career ladder, particularly women as they opt in and out of the workforce. So what do you really need to re-enter the workforce after an absence? You need confidence, vision, and letting go of limiting beliefs.
1. Know thyself: take a critical and rigorous self-appraisal of your achievements, experience, skills and abilities, life and work values, strengths, motivators, talents, personality, and interests. What is your marketability?
a. There are free assessment and personality tests on the Internet and the Department of Workforce Services.
2. Walk the walk: Act like a job seeker. Get up early and get in the right mindset of a job seeker. Tell yourself you are between jobs not jobless.
3. Focus your job search: use a laser approach rather than a broad net approach. Utilize job search engines (such as www.indeed.com) to find jobs by using keywords that match your interests and your geographic area. Narrowing your search criteria will force you to focus your job search and will provide more relevant job listings to review and less non-relevant job listings to wade through.
4. Use temporary employment agencies as a springboard to permanent employment: Employment agencies will also show you where you are weak in your computer skills and often offer access to free training modules. Volunteer at various non-profit agencies to start building skills. (Forget the bake sales—make it professional.)
5. Go to the DWFS employment office or community job resource center and register:(Also your former college may provide help or assistance) These resources can be invaluable when it comes to looking for a job.
6. Build Your Brand: Create profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo, and perhaps Twitter. Clarity about you and your personal brand communicates to recruiters, employers, and contacts a strong positive impression of you as a potential employee and hire.
a. Remember to have a professional sounding email address: no firstname.lastname@example.org or motheroffive @yahoo.com
7. Connect with contacts (network like crazy): Now that you have profiles on various networking sites, work them. Connect with everyone you know, because some 80% of all jobs are found through friends, families, and connections. These people can help you in your job search or connect you with someone who can help you.
8. Target your résumé and cover letter: Make sure that every résumé is targeted to each job so that you link your qualifications to the hiring criteria for the jobs for which you are applying. Don’t just blindly send resumes out en masse; target, target, target. A résumé is a marketing document, not your life history. Sometimes you won’t need a cover letter.
9. Attend job fairs at community colleges, universities, and other venues: Come prepared with résumés and ready to give a 30 second pitch about your skills to employers. Dress professionally. Target and research beforehand the companies and employers you want to visit at the fair. Take employer business cards and follow-up after the fair.
10. Consider going back to school or take certificate courses: Education can give you a greater competitive edge over other job candidates. Opt for online schools and programs if a traditional college or university doesn’t work for you.
11. Don’t apologize for time off to raise a family: This work speaks for itself. Utilize your interests that also kept you sustained during this period.
Julie Swaner is Program Manager at the University of Utah Alumni Career Services.
201 S. 1460 East
Room 350, SSB
Salt Lake City, Utah 84112