Finally! Your youngest is in school and you are ready to hit the job market after an extended absence. As you scrape the last of the Fruit Loops from the kitchen table, you ponder a few unfortunate truths:
• Your network has gone stale
• Your industry contacts have moved on
• You are not in the loop anymore.
Face the facts: you are at a disadvantage compared to those who have been in the job market continuously. You need a winning job search methodology to jump-start your career. Most job seekers use only one or two methods to cover the marketplace, and miss 75% of available opportunities. In order to get maximum exposure you will need to use multiple job search methods simultaneously. Let's get started!
First, assess what you have to offer. Take a personal inventory of your:
If you can't think of many accomplishments, ask those around you to give you feedback on your talents and abilities. Often those close to us are more aware of what we have to offer than we ourselves are. When you have completed your skill and accomplishment review, use the results to write a compelling resume that clearly shows your value to a potential employer.
If you have been out of work for a while, you many be wondering if your skills are still relevant. You can burnish your resume by taking on some volunteer work in your area of expertise. Here's a great example. Is your niche public relations? There is bound to be a community group or local non-profit that would really benefit from having a professionally designed newsletter. Or, you could volunteer to serve as a media contact to publicize the organization's events. Is marketing your area of interest? Approach a local school and volunteer to design some marketing materials to promote their programs. Local organizations are hungry for talent. Only your imagination will limit what you can accomplish. While you are volunteering your skills, you will also be gaining exposure in the community, and you are likely to make a few contacts that can help you with your search. Those contacts will make valuable additions to your network.
Think you don't have a network? Think again! Start with any people you know. Here are a few places to start:
• Organizations to which you belong
• Sports leagues
• Voluntary associations
Make a list of everybody you know. Ask those people whether they know anyone who has re-entered the workforce after a long absence. Talking to people who have done what you want to do will increase your confidence that you can do the same.
Now you're moving! Next, you need to start thinking about where you would like to work. Mass mailing your resume is a waste of time and postage. What you need is exposure to the companies that can make the best use of your skills. Identify five of them and research them thoroughly. Decide where you could provide the most value in each company, and identify the decision maker who has the authority to hire you.
Focus on the needs of each company; identify the relevant decision maker; and you position yourself ahead of those who limit themselves to the want ads and the Internet. You may even have an opportunity to create a position around your skills! When you reach a decision maker before an ad is published, you have obtained exposure that most will miss.
Another method of increasing exposure is to search for spot opportunities. Follow the industry news, check company websites, and learn about new initiatives or changes that could affect the business climate. Armed with this knowledge you will appear well-informed to your potential employers.
Informational interviews are another way of targeting areas where your skills might fit! Try approaching someone who is working in a job you think you would like, and ask them how they got their position, and if they could give you some advice on your job search. People will be amazingly helpful, especially when they can identify with you and your situation.
When you have reached this point, your confidence will be increasing daily. By using multiple methods to approach the market, you are being exposed to opportunities that others can only wish for. You are making new contacts, learning more about the needs of companies, and identifying the individuals that have the power to hire you. You are ready to use your knowledge of the company's needs and your inventory of skills, abilities, and accomplishments to demonstrate your value to the organization in an interview.
Sometimes all of this can seem overwhelming. If this is the case for you, you might want to consider hiring a professional to guide you in your search. But remember, you are not the first to be in this position. Others have successfully re-entered the job market after an extended absence, and you can too. Using multiple simultaneous methods to cover the entire market, and reaching decision-makers before an ad is published can be the key to your success no matter how long you have been out of work.
Lynn Green is a Senior Consultant for R.L. Stevens & Associates Inc. http://interviewing.com/ For over 24 years R.L. Stevens & Associates has been the Nation's most successful privately-held firm, specializing in executive career searches generating quality interviews through both advertised and unadvertised channels.