Back to Work after a Stay At Home Leave – Dos & Don’ts for Your Career Reboot

Re-entering the workforce after an extended leave may feel daunting. You’re likely looking at a changed landscape with technological advances, trend shifts, and new norms. However, your core value remains in place, and with careful positioning of yourself and your career materials, you can quickly find your way back into your industry.

Below are some dos and don’ts for a successful re-entry plan.

DO address the time-off.

Tempting as it may be to ignore the elephant in the room, there’s no hiding a significant employment gap on the resume. Speak to it directly and showcase it for what it was worth. The years you spent caring for others stretched your skill set and led to a maturity you may not have had before.

DON’T conflate work with employment.

You took a career sabbatical to raise children, care for a relative, or deal with a personal issue. While you undoubtedly worked hard during this period, you were not employed. Avoid off-putting terms like “Momager” and “Domestic Administrator” as well as overstating your “time management” or “budgeting” skills. Instead, write something like “Career Sabbatical to Care for Parent, 2012 – 1014” or “Leave for Physical Rehabilitation, 2017.” Honest, simple, and clear.

DO mention volunteer, part-time, and freelance roles. Were you a homeroom parent? A baseball coach? Did you help a friend set up his website? Volunteer at the local Food Bank? Provide occasional business consulting? These minor roles show your community engagement and ability to lead, collaborate, and serve. List them briefly as bullets under “Career Sabbatical” as you would for a regular position.

DON’T ignore your social media. According to a 2018 study by Career Builder, 70 percent of employers use social networking sites to research candidates, and 57 percent of them have found content that made them decide not to hire someone. Do yourself a favor and take inventory of your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram presence. How do you come across? What are outsiders able to view? Are you leaving a positive or negative impression on potential employers?

DO reach out to friends and former colleagues. Employee referrals are shown to be employers’ top source for hiring. It’s never too soon to begin reconnecting with former colleagues and mentioning your job search to friends and family. Get on their radar and make it easy for them to recommend you by emailing them a copy of your resume. Don’t become a burden, but do become a presence by taking an old colleague out to lunch, asking them questions about how the field or company has changed while refraining from pressuring them for a referral. Become a LinkedIn social butterfly, “liking” the posts of others and following leaders in your field.

DON’T wait until the last minute to create a resume. When the right job comes along, you want to be ready, resume and cover letter in hand. Twenty hours is not an outlandish baseline for getting these materials up to snuff, and it can often take more time than that. Give yourself enough time to create, draft, revise and perfect your resume and to have friends and family look at it for you. To stand out in the sea of applicants, think about hiring a professional to write it for you! 

DO some industry research. Re-enter the atmosphere with care. Assume everything has changed and carefully work to figure out how. Look into software changes, process revisions, and trends in your field. It’s wise to educate yourself by reading all that you can within your industry by subscribing to periodicals, following leaders on LinkedIn, signing up for newsletters, and even taking a course or training to bring your skills up to the new standards.

Career reentry doesn’t have to be painful and, with a strategic approach, it can be a refreshing experience! For help with your career transition, contact Leigh anytime! 

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