Life Happens! Divorce, a stock market plunge, debt, the death of a loved one… even isolation and boredom can be the reason you need to return to work and ….return as soon as possible. The reasons for an urgent return are varied; whatever your reason may be, the ways to accelerate your return are concrete.
When you absolutely positively have to return to work as soon as possible, implement these strategies:
Good news! Currently, there are more job openings across the United States than there are applicants to fill them. You don’t have to have every requirement, and employers are in a mood to consider people who have some if not all of their fit “requirements.” You can do this, but there are some steps you can take to ensure success.
Be Current. Your goal is to present your best attributes, not to confirm how old you are or how long it’s been since you last worked for pay. Avoid talking about years of experience; talk about your expertise, what you’re good at, and the activities that show your participation, leadership, or work impact.
Here’s an example. Don’t say, “I have 35 years of Customer Service experience”. This quickly has everyone adding up the years you’ve been on this planet… as if that is relevant. Instead, say, “I have strong customer-facing skills. I’m good at problem-solving and relationship management, and I make connections quickly. Even with difficult people.”
How you talk about yourself is one way to show yourself as current, vibrant, and ready to contribute. Manage what you say and how you say it in person, online, and in your resume. The winning strategy is to highlight your expertise and impact clearly and decisively…. not your age.
Decide where you fit. This is easy and hard at the same time. It can be emotional and difficult to say, “it’s time to return to work,” but if it’s a fact, it’s a fact. It’s even harder to be clear about what you want to do and why you are a good choice for the job you are seeking – especially if it’s been a long time since you were employed. Make educated guesses about where you might fit in and make a beneficial contribution. Do this by making two lists. One is a list of the jobs you can see yourself doing; the other is the list of your traits, abilities, and experience that show how each job is a “fit” for you. You’ll need to share your ideas about your best job fit over and over again, so go ahead and write it all down.
Don’t Wing it! Decide what you’ll say ahead of time. Keep the answers short; no explanations or long-winded stories are necessary. Practice out loud. Practice in front of your computer screen. We’re aiming for confident and prepared here.
Craft your answers ahead of time to these 5 questions every employer will ask. You know they will… so decide now what you’ll say and how you’ll say it.
Look for work as a contractor at the same time that you search for a permanent job. As a contractor, you are not an employee and usually don’t receive company-paid benefits, yet you get paid while having a front-row seat to view the company. Contract employees often get the first crack at permanent jobs, and you’ll see when permanent roles open up and know if you want to snag one.
Bonus for you…you get current experience to put on your resume. That’s a YAY!
Consider part-time positions as a way to reenter the workforce. There is no universal legal definition of part-time. Most often, part-time means less than 35 hours a week, though it can be as much as 40 hours a week, and the number of hours might vary from week to week.
Bonus for you… Yep! You get current experience to add to your resume.
Work from home as a virtual employee, virtual contractor, or part-timer. It is a joy for some people to work and live in the same space. For others, not so much. If it has been a number of years since you were a part of the workforce, working from home may be a new experience or your quickest option. It requires discipline and, in some cases, in-home technology to support your effort.
Bonus for you: Experience and, in some cases, flexibility.
NOW you’re ready to ignite your army! The best and fastest way to land an interview and then a job is to be referred to a company by an existing employee.
Tell your Besties. Your friends, family, neighbors, and acquaintances at the clubs, schools, or other places you frequent are your first, best places to tell your story. Make them aware that you want to return to work and what you have to offer. They will help. Yet you have to ask them to take the step of introducing you and connecting you to their employer or other acquaintance who works in your field.
Tidy up your social media accounts. Remove anything that you wouldn’t want an employer to see. Add those things that will help you be seen as a great employee, including any awards you’ve won or activities that show you as a colleague or leader. Also, add your volunteer activities and organizations to show what you like to do and what you’re passionate about.
Take advantage of your social media presence. LinkedIn™, as well as other social media sites, allow you to state that you are open to employment offers. Plus, you can always post that you are interested in knowing about opportunities in your field.
Make a list of the companies you want to work for so you can share it with your besties.
Practice for an interview before it happens. Answer the expected questions out loud and in front of your computer…with the camera on. See what you look like on-screen because your first interview will likely be online. Prepare for it.
Finalize your resume and be able to upload it to a company’s job application software as well as share it as an attachment.
Make your list of the specific types of work you are best suited for, including managing small teams or projects, customer interface, or back-of-the-shop activities. Make your specific list to share with your besties, so they have an idea of what you’re hoping to find.
Use the online application process for the companies you are interested in.
Contact staffing companies that represent the types of companies you’re looking for and have the positions you want.
The best and fastest way to land an interview is to be referred by an existing employee. The quickest way to land a job is to be clear and compelling about what you have to offer to the employer.
I spend my working life with people who want to accelerate their success at work. I’m an executive coach, and I’m acutely aware of how difficult it is to talk about oneself in a way that emphasizes our unique special value. If your goal is to be employed as quickly as possible, it is necessary to be fluent in today’s success language…which is about impact, contribution, and expertise. Times are changing, and how you message yourself tells others if you are keeping up with the changing times around you.
Good luck; be brave.
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