- Self-confidence. This will be the lynchpin to your success. It will help you perform better at your interview, land your job, and adjust faster to your new environment. However, possessing the necessary self-confidence when returning to the workforce may be easier said than done.
When feeling vulnerable, negative thoughts and self-doubt are likely to make themselves heard and loudly so. Don’t allow them to take any space in your mind!
If you need a positivity boost, get excited! Consider all the things you have to look forward to: new colleagues, work social events, time to read on your commute, extra finances! Visualise yourself happy and successful in your new role and use positive affirmations about yourself and your future. It works!
- Returnships. Yes, it’s a thing! Depending upon the length of time you have been out of the workforce, this could assist with sharpening your skills, lifting your self-confidence and paving a gradual return back to work. Just like internships, they help you in being workforce ready. A lot of prominent organisations such as Ernst & Young, Deloitte, and Macquarie Group offer these programs.
- Explain your career gap. Address this in your cover letter (e.g. parental leave/sabbatical), and be sure to list all the benefits gained (new skills/knowledge acquired), and mention ‘where you are now’, i.e. readiness, commitment and enthusiasm in returning to work. In your CV, add a one-line explanation in the appropriate section where the gap is.
- Technology. Our world is changing rapidly, and understanding technology is becoming even more essential. We saw the importance of this during the pandemic. Moving meetings to ‘online platforms’, such as Zoom, became the preferred method of communication. Ensure you are familiar with the technology needed for your job and to interview remotely.
- Your CV. Have that ready to go! The job market moves fast. When you see an appealing job advertisement, send your application as soon as possible (i.e. the same day!). Waiting until you have freshened up your CV, reformatted, shown it to others etc., can cost you the job. Make sure your CV is a maximum of three pages, has all your contact details on it and has been proofread for any mistakes, spelling, grammar, formatting etc.
- LinkedIn and social media. LinkedIn is your professional bible. Ensure you have an ‘all-star rating’, meaning your profile is completed for maximum impact (LinkedIn provides free tutorials to help you). Reach out to your contacts and network to let them know you are looking and available for work. You would be surprised at the power of connection.
Before applying for any role, conduct a social media audit on yourself. Make sure you are comfortable showing anything that is on public display.
- Be organised. If you need childcare, have this set up and ready to go. It would be a shame if you could not start your new job or have to delay your start because you cannot find suitable childcare arrangements. Be ready and available. Be aware when answering your phone. Answer with a professional voice, even if you are scrambling after your toddler or taking the dog for a run. First impressions count.
If a hiring manager leaves a message for you, call back as soon as possible (the same day, but preferably within the hour). The same applies to email. If you are contacted via email, respond straight away and professionally. Remember, you are not messaging your friend. Take the time to construct a friendly and professional reply email. It may help you to stand out–for the right reasons! And, of course, be readily available to interview!