The world of work can be a daunting place at the best of times. If you’ve had a break from working, even the prospect of applying for jobs may fill you with anxiety. If you’ve taken a career break, here are some handy hints to help you rediscover the world of work and get used to the daily grind again.
1. Preparing your resume
Before you start firing off applications, it’s really important to review and refresh your resume. Your resume should provide a detailed summary of your skills, your employment record, and your academic qualifications.
Don’t ramble on your resume. Bear in mind that any employer that reads it will spend a minute or two going through it before they make a decision whether or not to take your application any further.
When you’re going through your resume, eliminate unnecessary information. You don’t need to include jobs you had in high school or positions you held in college if they’re not relevant in any way to the position you’re applying for.
Focus on the important information, and highlight the skills and attributes you have that would benefit you in a certain job. Once you’ve got the basic template, you may need to tweak your resume for every job that you apply for to tailor it to the role.
Remember that your resume is your chance to sell yourself, and show off. The person who is reading it probably hasn’t met you or even heard of you before, so you can’t rely on your personality or social skills to impress them.
You have to use the space you have available to persuade them that you are the best candidate for the job. Outline your skills, include details of training you’ve completed, and try and make yourself stand out from the crowd.
If you don’t know where to begin tidying up your resume, or you’re not sure how to add that extra spark, there are people and organizations that can help. You’ll find loads of useful advice online, and you can also take advantage of services offered by charities that help people get back into work.
2. Setting career goals
Before you charge into trying to find work, try and identify some career goals. Think about what you’d like to do. Perhaps you’re keen to get back to the kind of job you did before you took a break or you’d like to try something completely different.
If you have an idea in mind, do some research to find out how to get into the industry, and make sure you have the relevant training or qualifications you need. You don’t want to waste time preparing applications that are going to be rejected at the first stage because you don’t meet the requirements stipulated in the job description.
It’s always a good thing to set yourself goals to work towards but make sure they’re realistic. If you’ve had time out, work towards targets that are manageable and achievable. Sometimes, it can take time to get to where you want to be.
The first step may be to get a job to pay the bills and get into the routine of working again, and then you can start searching for your dream job.
3. Searching for job vacancies
If you’re hoping to find a job, you’ll need to be proactive. It’s very rare for opportunities to land in your lap. If you’re hoping to work in a similar role to the job you had before, it may be worth getting in touch with contacts you made before your career break.
It’s also useful to register with recruitment agencies and to sign up for email alerts from websites that advertise jobs. You can tailor your search to look for vacancies in specific industries, set a desired salary and choose between temporary and permanent roles. You can also look in newspapers and magazines.
If you know that you want to work in the media, in construction or in healthcare, for example, it’s wise to contact agencies that specialize in these fields.
Getting a job isn’t always easy, but if you don’t try, you’ll never know. Prepare your resume, draw up a cover letter, and start compiling some applications.
Take your time to answer questions, and think carefully about making your application relevant to each specific role. Have the job description to hand at all times so you can formulate each answer with the position in mind.
4. Interview tips
If an employer likes the look of your resume or they’re impressed by your application, you may be invited to an interview. Interviews can be a very scary prospect, even for those who have done hundreds before.
If you feel anxious about going to interviews, it may be beneficial to attend some workshops and get used to interview scenarios. You can practice answering questions, develop your communication skills, and get help with putting presentations together.
When you have an interview coming up, take time to prepare as much as possible beforehand. Think about what kinds of questions the panel could ask you, and come up with some model answers.
If you have been asked to prepare a presentation or you’ve been given questions to respond to, practice as much as you can. If you know what you want to say, this will help you to feel more confident.
Research some popular interview questions, and come up with some answers. What can you offer the firm? What are your best and worst attributes? Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Before the interview, work out what you’re going to wear, and make sure you know where you’re going. You don’t want to spend the morning stressing out about an outfit or trying to make up time after getting lost. Unless you have been told to dress casually, it’s always best to opt for smart attire.
Make sure you look the part but choose something that also makes you feel comfortable. Take a minute to polish your shoes, do your hair, and always shower beforehand. Set off in plenty of time. It’s better to arrive half an hour early than to show up with seconds to spare.
When you go into the interview, make eye contact with the individual or the panel, and smile. This will help to break the ice. If you’re asked tricky questions, take your time, breathe, and stay calm.
When you’re speaking, be confident. Believe in yourself, sit up straight, and show how much you want the job. Energy, enthusiasm, and passion will get you a long way.
5. Getting yourself ready for your first day
Congratulations, you got the job! Now, it’s time to focus on getting ready for your first day back at work. If you’ve been ill, you were made redundant, or you’ve been going through tough times in your personal life, returning to work can fill you with mixed emotions.
You may be excited at the prospect of earning a wage, interacting with other people and developing your skills, but you may also feel nervous and anxious. It’s completely normal to be apprehensive about starting a new job. Try and stay calm and relaxed, and think positively.
Take each day as it comes, and try not to panic if you don’t make friends instantly or you have a few minor hiccups in the first few days. If you make mistakes, they can almost always be rectified.
In the run-up to your first day, get yourself ready. Figure out how you’re going to get to work, get an outfit ready the night before, and ensure you get to bed at a reasonable time. You don’t want to turn up on the first morning feeling exhausted.
Make sure you’re relaxed when you get into bed. If your mind is racing or you’re worried about the day ahead, you’ll find it hard to nod off. Take it easy, watch a film, read a book or run a bath. Try not to focus too much on what’s to come.
If you’ve had a long time off work, the thought of getting a new job may conjure up mixed emotions. Working can be hugely beneficial, but the prospect of actually applying for a job and going through the interview process can be daunting.
If you’ve had time away from the world of work, and you’d like to find a new job, hopefully, this guide will help.
Take time to update and refresh your resume before you send any applications, and make sure you’re selling yourself to the best of your ability. Make a concerted effort to tailor each application to the job description. If you get an interview, prepare in advance.
Make sure you’re familiar with the company, do some homework to find out more about the vacancy, and go through your presentation. Be confident, take deep breaths, and think about your answers before you respond. If you have to take a minute to come up with an answer to a tough question, don’t panic. It’s best to give a measured reply than to fire something off without thinking.
If you are offered the job, make sure you rest up the night before, and give yourself plenty of time to get there on the morning of your first day. First impressions count for everything.