Whether you left to raise a family, care for aging parents, go on medical leave, do your MBA or even travel, reentering the work world after an extended period of time can be tricky.
The most common reason people step out of the workforce, other than to retire, is to raise a family fulltime and disproportionately this responsibility falls to women. The statistics on women who chose to exit the workforce are staggering: only 74 percent who take time out will return and only 40 percent of those will return fulltime.
This is always surprising considering 93 percent of women express an intention to return to the workforce, but shift their priorities.
So how do you beat the odds and successfully transition back into the business world?
Be strategic and plan your return. Treat your transition like a job. Haphazardly submitting your resume to a 100 random online postings is not likely to land you a lasting fulfilling career.
Decide what you would truly like to do.
How much and where would you like to work? (FT, PT, freelance, downtown, from home, etc.)? When you are re-entering the workforce is a great time to reflect on what you really want to do.
Have your interests changed? Many people find after a break or significant life change they are passionate about different things. I know many people who have moved from finance and law to more creative or flexible endeavors such as interior design and often this is an optimal time to start a business or buy a franchise.
Many entrepreneurs say during time away from office it can be easier to identify a gap in the market and start a consumer business. Many great companies have been started this way.
Do your research, there is great data available to see where the most promising career and wage growth is. Government labor websites will tell you everything you need to know about growing industries, job openings and wage trajectories of specific roles in your region.
Glassdoor is also a great resource to find out about prospective employers and business opportunities, today we can be much more choiceful and educated about the kind of company they’d like to work with.
Gather your confidence and get rid of self-doubt.
I believe the biggest thing holding people back when re-entering is lack of confidence and self-doubt. Think of yourself as coming back rejuvenated and refreshed–as an enhanced version of your former self. Remember over the course you your lifetime you have developed many skills, write yourself a list of your skills and accomplishments to revisit every time you start feeling insecure.
Identify and update your skills.
Even better than just identifying your skills is to stay current. When I talk to employers the biggest skill barrier to successful re-entry is technology. Social media can really help here. Many of the programs employers use today closely mirror or even work off of social media platforms. Also, a current web friendly bio or resume and cover letter is important along with a current LinkedIn profile. Consider getting a professional to help with your resume, cover letter and practice interviews.