This post was originally published April 2, 2017. It has been updated with more great advice from the front lines.
Career reentry tips from women who have successfully “rebooted” and on-ramped in a wide range of jobs and industries: full-time, part-time, entrepreneur, freelancer, corporate, non-profit.
Thank you to Lisa Carey, Senior Resource Manager at Deloitte; Lorena Cuffy, Executive Director at Robert Hoover Jr. Golf Program and Jesse Jackson Digital Inclusion Fellow; Ann Y. Ing, Owner and Professional Organizer at 4D Organizing™ and Forever Ambassador; Catherine Northrup, Partner at McDonough College Consulting; and Dana Posey, Operations Manager at Jet Blue Technology Ventures.
- Update your skills. If you’ve been out of the workplace for any length of time, “get skilled up.” Learn social media, collaborative workplace tools and “LinkedIn, LinkedIn, LinkedIn.” Don’t forget presentation skills. Get confident with preparing “decks” (aka presentations), and public speaking. One alumna noted she has to develop and deliver visual presentations all the time at her company, and she was glad ReBoot Accel had prepared her for that.
- Make sure you have a killer LinkedIn profile and picture. “The workshopping and advice from ReBoot Accel helped me develop a polished LinkedIn profile, plus provided me with a professional headshot that I use for everything from my new company website to social media.”
- Network everywhere, all the time. Network at the yoga studio, grocery store, soccer field, school, house of worship, parties, everywhere, not just at professional networking events. “I got my job by mentioning to a friend that I was interested in going back to work and she was my entree into the company I now work for.” And, the advice from entrepreneurs present that night (college consultant, jewelry designer, professional organizer) was those people at your kid’s soccer game are your friendliest potential customers and brand ambassadors!
- Prep for the interview. Research the interviewers, not just the company. “Look up your interviewers on LinkedIn. Know details about them you can weave into your interview to build rapport and show you’ve done your homework. Follow the company or interviewers on social media. Arrive on time or early. I’m sure that helped me land my job I have today because my employer appreciates people who don’t waste her time.”
- Get ready for remote interviews. This is the new norm. One panelist noted that all NINE of her interviews were by phone. But she still got dressed up because interviewing in her PJ’s was NOT an option. In many cases, interviews today would also include, YIKES!, video technologies. Even if your interviews are by phone, SKYPE, ZOOM, Google Hangouts, etc. are ubiquitous in today’s workplace so best bet is to get comfortable using them.
- Negotiate your salary: “Wish I had done this, but I didn’t! They offered me the job, and I took it. I didn’t even think to negotiate.” Research shows men negotiate, but women often don’t. Don’t leave anything on the table. Even a 5% bump now can mean thousands of dollars more over the expanse of a career.
- Take “small bets.” If you are thinking of going back to work, start by taking small steps that build your confidence and start you off on a path to reach your long term goals. Don’t try to do it all at once. And a support group and accountability partners can help keep you on track.
- Sometimes it takes a leap of faith to land in the right job. One alumna was pivoting from a comfortable position to a riskier one that was more aligned with her values and career goals. It wasn’t easy and she self-funded ’til she got funded, but it was the right thing to do. And her social impact on the kids she cares about is 10x.
- The painful parts of your story can positively shape your future narrative. At this stage in our lives, we have experienced joys and pains, successes and failures. All parts of our stories are valuable. Own it and turn it into a positive. ReBoot Accel Founder and CEO, Diane Flynn, shared it was when she was forced to reflect deeply while recuperating from cancer that the seeds for starting ReBoot Accel took root. Several panelists shared their bumpy paths to returning to work but they ultimately felt the rewards (monetary and self-worth) were worth it.
- “I love my paycheck” and power shifts on the domestic front. Partners and kids are having to step up more and have a new understanding of and appreciation for what it takes to run a household, and “I am learning to release control and (some) home leadership to others.” Good modeling and training for all going forward.
Lastly, “Take a ReBoot Career Accelerator! They teach you all of this stuff!”
Have you recently returned to work? Have some advice you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you.
Kristin Vais is VP of Programs at ReBoot Accel.
Kristin’s passion is creating initiatives that help women and girls thrive by achieving their career & life goals. This includes devoting time and leadership to non-profits that empower women, girls, and people living in poverty.
“Every day, I ask myself, “Am I making a difference?”, “Do I love what I do and the people I work with?”, “Am I helping make the world a better place for my 3 daughters?” and so far the answer is yes.”
Are you a job seeker returning to or pivoting your career? What’s next for you?
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