Re-entry, relaunching, returning. On-ramps and career tracks. Sounds like we're either going into orbit or you're going back to work. You left your job (and maybe even your schooling) for a while to take care of your family. And now, things have changed. Or maybe you've already found a job, but due to your family responsibilities or lack of confidence, you're working beneath your abilities and you feel capable of more.
You haven't worked outside the home for months, or more likely, years. You know you've got some skills, but you worry that the ones that might appeal to an employer are buried beneath years of dirty dishes. You've checked the classifieds, but they all ask for experience and references. You don't have much of either. You aren't sure how employers will feel about the big gap in your résumé, and you aren't even sure you want to work in the same type of job as the one you left, anyway.
If you're considering returning to work sometime in the future, here are some strategies to consider (and here and here are some more to check out):
- Figure out what you really want to do, what you're good at, and what kind of education and experience you have. If you're not sure what you want to do, your nearest LDS Employment Center is a good place to start. There are also some great books and community resources out there to help you figure out where your passion lies (I recommend What Color Is Your Parachute?).
- Make connections. Tell everyone you know, both in person and through social media, that you're looking for work in a specific field. An acquaintance may not know of a job opening, but he or she might know someone who does.
- Volunteer strategically. Find a volunteer position that's related to the position you want. This will increase and update your skills, provide you a bigger network of people in the field, allow you to serve others, and could eventually translate into a paid position. Volunteering is especially helpful if you're not ready to commit to a job yet--volunteer positions generally require less time than paid ones.
- Invest in yourself. Going back to school can pay off later on. You might find a program with evening or online classes (check your school's website), and you might even find financial assistance if you look carefully. U.S. citizens and permanent residents may be eligible for Pell grants--there is no age limitation on these grants, and they don't have to be repaid. Many colleges and universities offer a range of scholarships, so check to see which ones you qualify for.
- Attend seminars, job fairs, and other events for your prospective industry. Is there a group in your area for people who are looking for work? Does your alumni association have groups close by or online? Read up on the latest developments, both for your industry and for the specific company you want to work for before you interview.
- Don't limit yourself. Don't discredit or downplay your abilities, your education, or your time at home. Even if your decisions have not given you direct experience relevant to the job you want, they have given you valuable skills and helped your personal development. Think carefully about what you've learned from your schooling, paid work, volunteer work, church work, and parenting, and how those skills could apply to a work setting. Be sure to phrase them in businesslike terms. And be open to paths you may not have considered, such as starting a business when you've always been an employee or vice-versa.
- Get inspired by other people's success stories.