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July 9, 2021

Top 5 Things People Should Do When Preparing To Rejoin The Workforce

Covid-19 made most employees take a step back and re-examine their careers. For many employees, a break from work was what they needed, but how can they seamlessly transition back into the workforce when they’re ready? Joblist conducted a survey of 924 employees who took a work gap in their career history then decided to return to the workplace. Respondents […]

Covid-19 made most employees take a step back and re-examine their careers. For many employees, a break from work was what they needed, but how can they seamlessly transition back into the workforce when they’re ready? Joblist conducted a survey of 924 employees who took a work gap in their career history then decided to return to the workplace. Respondents were 55.2% men and 44.1% women. The top reasons for leaving the workforce were job loss (32%), career change (23%) and to care for children (20%). Nearly 18% said they reentered the workforce during the pandemic, and over half said it made the process of rejoining more difficult. The top reported difficulties rejoining the workforce were difficulties getting interviews (30%), imposter syndrome (29%) and judgment from hiring managers (21%). Nearly one in 10 said they hired a career coach to prepare to enter the workforce.

5 Steps To Ease Transitions Back Into The Workforce

Deciding to return to work after a break—the median break in this study was six months—can be daunting, and a fair amount of preparation typically has to go into making that transition. Joblist asked people who’d re-entered the workforce what action steps they took to prepare for the next phase of their career.

  1. Restructuring resume (50%). The most common step people took when preparing to get back to work was restructuring their resume. It’s a natural place to begin, especially as many worry about having a gap in their job experience on their resume. It can sometimes feel like fighting a losing battle knowing that there’s historically been a stigma around gaps on resumes with hiring managers wondering about the validity of gaps. However, gaps in employment are becoming more common, so hiring managers may have adjusted their view of them. Experts agree that honesty is the best policy when it comes to explaining holes in your work history. “A solid resume can play a big part in getting your foot in the door when applying for a job,” said Kevin Harrington, CEO of Joblist. “When you have a work gap, consider structuring your resume around your skills and accomplishments rather than chronologically by experience. Focus on where your expertise lies and emphasize the specific skills and experiences that would make you an asset to potential employers.” 
  2. Building or reaching out to professional network (25%). Just over one in four people who re-entered the workforce said they built or reached out to their professional network as they sought to make the transition back. According to Harrington, “Networking can be a highly overlooked, yet crucial part of landing a job when rejoining the workforce. Start by perfecting your elevator pitch so you can explain succinctly who you are and what you’re looking for. Don’t make your work gap the focus of your pitch—instead highlight your relevant skills and experiences that make you a fit for your target roles. Begin by reaching out to friends and family, then work your way up to meeting with potential employers or colleagues. The goal of each conversation that you have should not be to ask for a job. Instead, treat the conversation as a way to collect information and make a genuine connection that could be mutually beneficial down the road. If you can do this consistently, eventually something will click.”
  3. Practice/mock interviews (23%). The top difficulty people reported facing as they rejoined the workforce concerned landing job interviews (30.3%). Because even the most confident workers can feel shaky upon returning to work, experts suggest that you find your footing. They recommend starting with those in their “safe zone”—such as family members and friends. “Interview preparation is key when coming off a work gap,” Harrington advises. “Practice explaining your work gap briefly and confidently, along with ways to redirect the conversation to your strengths as a candidate. Do not be afraid to talk about your motivations for taking time off from work and any productive activities that you pursued during this time. Focus on the positives, and your eventual interviewer likely will too.” 
  4. Working part-time first (20%). Looking for work after time away can be a vulnerable and anxiety-inducing experience for people, so it makes sense that doubt can creep in. For this reason, many of the respondents said they went back to work part time before looking for full-time employment. “Working part-time before committing to something full-time can be a great way to find your footing,” Harrington explained. “If you’ve been away from work for a while, easing in with part-time work can help you get back in the swing of working and potentially even try something new. Use this time to adjust, acquire skills, and build up new experiences. This strategy can help improve your candidate profile and make the eventual transition to full-time work go more smoothly.” 
  5. Freelancing before doing something salaried (18%). Another segment of the sample found that freelancing or consulting before looking for salaried employment helped them with the transition back into the workforce. “Freelancing can allow you to take on one short commitment at a time, helping ease the transition into working again while providing flexibility to your schedule,” Harrington said. “Starting with freelancing also gives you the chance to show off some skills on your resume, making your work gap less noticeable. In some cases, freelance work may even lead to a full-time offer from one of your clients.”

The researchers concluded that taking a break from the workforce, whether planned or not, can come with a number of anxieties and can be the product of a variety of circumstances. Women were more likely than men to report longer absences, and job loss was the most common reason people found themselves with a gap in their work history. But at the end of the day, more than a third of people said they had no regrets about their time away from work.

Article written by:  Orville Lynch, Jr.
Mr. Lynch, a member of the legendary two-time Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame Award winning Lynch Family.Mr. Lynch is a nationally recognized urban media executive with over 20+ years of diversity recruitment and serial entrepreneur with numerous multi-million dollar exits.

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