Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Returning to the workforce

Letter from the reader mailbag

Dear HR Maven,

BC (before children), I ran a large marketing communications department in a large PR firm.  After 10 years at home, I am ready to reenter the workforce.  I have applied for a couple of positions and am not getting interviews.  I was very successful in my last position and am a little discouraged. Any thoughts?

Many. Let's start with your resume.

Make sure that your resume is stellar.  This may be the right time to pay someone good to help write your resume.  If you can't afford it, look for resources at the employment development office in your state.  Or search on college and universities career development sites for resources.  They are free and often very good.  Let me highlight my employer's site - they have FABULOUS resources.

Make sure that you are online on LinkedIn and that your resume is there.  In perfect shape.

Next, let's talk about your expectations.
You are not going to pick up where you left off.  You aren't going to start at the top. That's simply the fact.  You have been out of the workforce for 10 years.  Many, many things have changed. It isn't the same workforce you left.  Despite what you think, employers would look at that and think that work you did 10 years ago isn't relevant now.  And whether you agree with them or not, it's their job and they have a right to discern as they wish.

You are competing with those who HAVE NOT left the workforce.  This isn't a judgment but frankly, they have several legs up on you.  You have to acknowledge that.

Lastly, let's talk about some options. Networking and connecting will be key.  Start with these:

Alumni networks  Where did you go to college?  Look for alumni chapters in your community, on line, on LinkedIn and Facebook.  Connect.

Volunteer work If have you done volunteer work including school committee involvement, make sure it's on your resume.

Community involvement  Have you done any work with great causes?  Like Relay for Life or Paws with a Cause?  Make sure it's there too.

Staffing/temp agencies  Consider working with your state's economic development department, as well as exploring options through local staffing agencies.  They have connections you won't find on your own.

There are some great resources online for additional tips.  Google, Yahoo, and Bing can help you there. I personally like Ask A Manager. Make sure to read it often.  She has GREAT advice and resources.  I would suggest buying her book and know that I get NO money for the referral.  It's that good.

Good luck.


Anonymous said...

The advice you offered is the reality of surviving and landing a job in these economic times. As a staffing coordinator at and staffing services,the first thing I go to is the resume! Perfect that before jumping in on anything else, ensure it is up to date and that your talent and skills are highlighted in order to give the employer a good first impression.

Karen K said...

I have an applicant who lists her last job as stay-at-home-mom (that's fine) and her supervisor as her husband (No, no, no!).

Deirdre Honner said...

No. NO. Oh my gosh. I don't even know how to help someone like that.