You’ve decided that now is the time. With resume in hand, job alerts set and LinkedIn profile current you’re ready to reenter the workforce. In this historic time of low unemployment, there are jobs to be had and your approach is solid. You may even have a great lead on a role that you’re qualified to land, and network connections to grease the skids. Or better yet, a job offer waiting. Wherever you are in your reentry process, one thing is for certain; day-to-day life is about to change. Here are six tried and true tips for making your reentry a success:
1.) Pause and reflect before jumping in. I know – you’ve paused already and are eager to re-enter the workforce, so what value does pausing now offer? LOTS.
In the time that you’ve paused your career, it’s not just the world of work that has changed; chances are good that your priorities have changed as well.
By taking a beat to reflect on your top values, biggest motivators, and considering where these both intersect with the skill set you can create space for discovering not only your next paid gig but also one that is meaningful. What are your top values, and where do those intersect with the things you do well? DIYers can work through a book like this one, or if collaboration is more your thing, try a local coach or meetup group.
2.) Assess your support system and create a backup plan. Snowstorms happen and so do sick kids and extracurriculars. The 180-day school year leaves 80 days of summer and many half days, election days, and other special days to accommodate. All of these are surmountable if you have systems in place and think ahead about back up plans.
Have an open and frank discussion with your parenting partner, family and close friends about how your new schedule will be managed.
This may lead to hiring help, swapping days, sequencing career priorities, enlisting help of family and friends, searching for fractional or remote positions, or a combination of all of these.
3.) Know your value. Often, we (and women in particular) view a career break as a backward slide on the pay scale. Or in seeking part-time hours we trade a disproportionate amount of income for flexibility. Sometimes this is worth the trade-off (learning new skills, trying out a role) and sometimes it’s selling yourself short.
Remember that the career you spent 10 or 15 years building before your pause is valuable, applicable, and worth paying for.
Make sure your skill set is current and you can speak confidently and concretely about the value you’ll provide for your new organization. You are a hire worth fair pay.
4.) Research, research and then research some more. This is especially important when you’re pursuing a new industry or role; the view from the outside can often be different from day-to-day responsibilities. Informational interviews not only help when seeking a job and getting to know company cultures but also during the discovery process of learning what you want to pursue.
Leverage your network to connect with colleagues you’d like to learn more about and ask for brief meetings to talk about THEM.
People like to share their story, and generally, like to be helpful. Ask them what they like and what they don’t like about their roles. And remember that one perspective is just that, so cast a wide net and talk to a variety of people.
5.) Know your commute. This one is for all us urban dwellers… Traffic, train schedules, and connections change over time, as do our memories of what it’s like to commute every day. Planning to take the train to work each day or drive during rush hour? Try it for a few days (and no cheating – wear your work clothes).
The best job for great pay will get old fast if the daily commute grinds you down.
Be realistic about commuting times as well as your ability to get somewhere when you need to. And, if it wasn’t part of your interview dialogue, consider building a case for flexibility over time.
6.) Communicate. Is your part-time job realistically requiring full-time hours? Are the support systems you set up backsliding and causing you to feel perpetually harried and stressed? Do you have a big project or event coming up that will require extra at-work time?
An evolving conversation around what’s working and what’s not can help avoid hitting a brick wall.
Keep the lines of communication open around expectations, and set boundaries that work for you. (This goes for families as well as for bosses.)
Juggling work and family has challenges, both short- and long-term. Anyone re-entering the paid workforce after taking a career pause as a caregiver will inevitably encounter some bumps. But with some planning, creative problem-solving, and open dialogue those bumps won’t be big enough to knock you off your path.
Leanne Rodd is a seasoned training professional and City Lead for ReBoot Connect Boston, with experience in the staffing, manufacturing and publishing industries. “I truly enjoy helping women navigate reentry toward paid work and being the catalyst for helping people find meaningful roles. After crafting my own part-time, full-time, and “no-time” work schedules I believe that each person has their own unique path toward vocation. I also believe that women can form powerful networks to support, encourage and engage one another in their reentry journeys.”
Leanne is running a full schedule of career reentry and professional development programs for currently working and reentering women in the Boston area. Check out all the upcoming opportunities HERE.
Are you in a job search? Returning to your career following a pause? Want to connect with a positive community of like-minded people? ReBoot Accel is here to help. ReBoot Connect in-person community events and professional development workshops ongoing in Silicon Valley, Boston, Atlanta, Detroit, and Houston.
Can’t get to those cities? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter at @rebootaccel, and please join our free “ReBoot Accel Discussion Group” on Facebook for more conversation, connecting, sharing, and support.
If you are near Silicon Valley, A ReBoot Career Accelerator and five job search skills workshops start January 31 in Silicon Valley. Or come to our upcoming Entrepreneur Bootcamp Info Night and Founder’s Panel on February 6, and check out the upcoming Entrepreneur Bootcamp cohort starting February 27.