If you’re going back on the job market after a major life change like a divorce, it’s common to feel some anxiety. The same is true if you’re re-entering the job market after being out of it a long time. Maybe you’ve been raising children, or traveling.
In all of these cases, your task is the same. You have to find things that are going to make an employer want to hire you. Fear not. It can be done. After all, time away from the job market doesn’t mean you’ve been doing nothing. Your job is to strategize how what you’ve done can be valuable to an employer.
Think from an Employer’s Perspective
The first task you need to do is move from a person who thinks of herself as out of work to one who is in charge of her job search. Start thinking from an employer’s perspective. What might an employer need that you can do?
If you raised children, it’s a safe bet you are great at time management. Keeping all those play dates from colliding, right? You probably have skills in getting people to play together on a team – amazingly useful in business.
What did you do prior to the divorce or raising children or traveling? How could you help a business with what you used to do? Think from the employer’s perspective: what is needed that you can do. That’s key to getting any job.
Do an Assessment of Your Skills
Once you’ve thought through what you have to offer from an employer’s perspective, sit down and make a list of those skills. Then, write at least one example of each. By the time you’re done, you want a left-hand column with skills, faced by a right-hand column with examples.
Can you strategize team-building strategies? Your example could be from the Girl Scout cookie sale or two decades ago as a lawyer’s assistant. Don’t hesitate to mine skills from any volunteer activities: they’re important because you demonstrated skills and abilities. Can you fundraise? Can you teach software skills?
Look for Jobs That Match Your Skills
Once you have a list of skills, it’s time to search for jobs that match those skills. Can you be an executive assistant, working with time management? Can you build on bake sale fundraising to become a professional fund-raiser?
Read the job postings. Highlight what they are asking for. If you have those skills, craft a resume.
Develop a Cover Letter With Your Story
While your resume is the place to put positions you’ve held, coming back from a gap requires a skillful cover letter. In a cover letter, you can let an employer know 1) what you offer and 2) why you’ve been out of the workforce. It’s essential that you tell potential employers both of these.
For example, your cover letter may say “As you can see, I did not hold a paying position from 2002 to 2017. During that time, I raised two wonderful children. Most significantly for this job, I was the manager of our school’s fundraiser for five years, increasing contributions by 12% every year. I am confident that I can put my fundraising skills to work for you.”
This letter a) candidly addresses resume gaps that human resources people will notice; b) gives the reason; and c) brings the reader’s attention back to the important stuff vis-à-vis a job: what you can do.
Note, too, that it’s very important in today’s job market to quantify your achievements if you can. If you contributed to sales or money coming in or cut costs, let them know how much.
If you’re looking for a job in Hawaii, we can help. Contact us today.