The only thing more intimidating than deciding to take a time out from your career to start a family or raise your kids is often finding the guts to jump back into the workforce, especially if you’ve been out for an extended period of time. Even if you are ready to get back in the game, depending on your line of work, you may be competing with hundreds, or even thousands, of new additions to your industry since you left. But for most of us, it’s about knowing where to start and getting your momentum going in the right direction, and your drive and smarts can take it from there.
And since so many things may have changed since you left the career world (LinkedIn, anyone?), it’s important to know the etiquette involved in stepping back in. Here’s the basics of today’s finding-a-job decorum. Once you have that down, it’s all wheels-up from there.
The DON’T List
Have a Weak Handshake
Nothing can kill a first impression faster than a timid offering of a ragdoll hand when greeting a potential employer. Yes, you’re a woman, but that doesn’t mean you should have a weak handshake. Don’t be dainty, be self-assured. Offer your hand in a purposeful gesture, extending your elbow to reach out and greet future co-workers or probable bosses with confidence.
It’s important to be current and up to speed, but this does not mean you need to show up dressed as a fashionista, dropping hip- hop lingo into the conversation. It’s more important to know your industry and your audience than pretending to be younger than you are. Depending on which sector you are seeking a job, the suit is still standard business attire for most. If you’re re-entering a creative industry then by all means dress accordingly. You may be 10 years their senior and had to google what millennial means, but parenting gave you a special skill set for coping, multi-tasking and the ability to conquer anything that comes at you. Those talents don’t come with being a spring chicken.
Branding has become a big buzz word as of late. It basically means knowing what you are professionally and how you let the world know it. However, a simple symptom of not understanding good branding is over alliteration. If you are making a comeback, you need a bio in addition to a resume. This will be for all your social media outreach. If your bio reads confident, committed, connected or passionate, purposeful, and professional you may not be making the impression that you are aiming for. You are not Dr. Seuss. Describe your talents in a straightforward, sophisticated manner. Being cute doesn’t always read as being clever.
Depend on the Internet
The safest space to not actually have to sell yourself is online. You can easily apply to hundreds of jobs a day by attaching a resumé and clicking send. But in all probability you will not score your dream job without putting in some face time and having real conversations. So instead seek those out. Save yourself endless hours scouring the interwebs and instead ask around or better yet call a few places and inquire about job openings. Your cell phone actually makes call, too. The Web is a black hole of job applications.
Expect the Moon & a Six- Figure Salary
Welcome back to reality. You probably won’t make exactly what you were making before—at least not right off the bat. It’s ok. You’ll get there. Just have realistic expectations and be flexible.
What are you still doing here? Open a new browser, and start hunting for a job, and let us know how you fare.