Re-entering the workforce after a long period of unemployment is challenging. You may find that employers question a gap in your resume and that it’s difficult to land a first interview, let alone that valuable second interview that can seal the deal. Plus, you may also find that during your time out of the workforce raising a child, caring for a loved one, or finishing your education, that the technology and best practices in your industry have changed, and your skills may not be current.
Finding a job after a period of long-term unemployment can be a challenge, but preparing yourself while out of work can help you remain competitive. Even if you haven’t kept up with trends in your industry or your professional contacts, it’s not too late to present yourself as a valuable job hire. We’re looking at a few proactive things you can do, even if you’re already applying for jobs, to make you a more attractive candidate.
Address Gaps in Your Resume
When you apply for a job, often employers ask for a resume and a cover letter. Your resume states your skills, experience, and professional certifications, while your cover letter allows employers to get a sense of who you are, your management style, and any soft skills that aren’t covered in your resume. Your cover letter is also the perfect place to address gaps in your resume, explaining why you took time off and what you did during that time.
For example, if you took time out to complete your education or pursue an advanced degree, state that, as well as how what you learned in school makes you an ideal candidate for the job you’re applying for. If you took time out of the workforce for personal reasons, you could still adapt what you did during that time to make you a better job candidate. If you were raising a young child, you may state that your experience has given you more patience and understanding, while if you were out caring for a sick relative, mention your experience gave you compassion and a deeper emotional IQ.
Develop Your Professional Skills
Just because you aren’t actively holding a job doesn’t mean that you stop learning professionally. There may be courses that you can take online, in your spare time, to add to your professional certifications or different independent studies you can do remotely that boost your overall knowledge in your industry.
If you are adding skills and certifications during your time out of work, list these on your resume, and be sure to highlight them in your cover letter, as well, demonstrating to employers that you still have a passion for your industry and a desire to broaden your knowledge. Investing in your education is a gift that you can give yourself. You aren’t just learning new skills, but you may also meet others in similar careers, helping you build up your professional network.
Network, Network, Network
You may not have kept up with your professional contacts during your time out of the workforce, but that doesn’t mean that you must let those relationships die. Dust off your LinkedIn profile and start reaching out to your old co-workers, mentors, vendors, and others in your field. You may also be able to attend events sponsored by your local Chamber of Commerce or BNI organizations, allowing you to meet other professionals and reconnect with those you know.
Ensure Your Resume is Polished
Having an up-to-date resume and cover letter is essential. If you need to, reach out to a recruiter near you, at a staffing firm like Morales Group, to make sure that your first impression to employers doesn’t look dated and helps you stand out from the crowd. You may need other materials for your job interview, including safety certifications, copies of your transcripts from school or your diplomas, and proof of certain professional accreditations and certifications. Ensure that you have copies of everything that a potential employer may ask to verify.
In addition to your document preparation, it’s important to prepare your personal and professional references. Many potential employers will ask for several of these. If you’re listing someone as a reference, make sure that their contact information, both email and phone, is up to date. It also helps to drop that person a line letting them know you’re job hunting and you’ve listed them as a reference so that they know to expect a phone call or email from human resources.
Apply for Short-Term or Temporary Positions
Another way you can demonstrate your viability as a job candidate is to apply for short-term or temporary positions, preferably ones that relate to your career or jobs whose duties can help you polish up your own skills. Consider applying with a company like Morales Group Staffing after a long gap in employment. At Morales Group we have positions for just about any field and level of experience and can help match you with the best temporary positions in your area, letting you reacquaint yourself with working again while earning a competitive salary.
Even if you have a gap of several years on your resume, demonstrating to potential employers that you’re committed to keeping your skills sharp and that you have used your time away from the workforce to maintain your qualifications can go a long way towards landing a great job. If you haven’t spent your time off pursuing professional qualifications or maintaining your skills, you can still demonstrate your commitment to improving your abilities by working short-term or temporary jobs to refresh your skills and learn new ones.
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