If you are among the thousands of women who will be sticking their toes back in the job-hunting stream soon, take a deep breath! It’s okay to feel a bit nervous.
Whether you’ve been at home raising a family, suffered recent divorce or widowhood, lost your employment, or re-located, the game remains the same. You want to find the best-paying, most interesting and fulfilling work you possibly can. The secret? Boost your past experience with a fresh dose of career exploration and workplace insight.
While your past work experience can be a valuable asset, don’t let it limit your vision of the future. Change is constant. The workplace you left is not likely to be the same one you’ll return to. Make yourself career-ready by studying your own strengths, needs, and aspirations as well as the current state of the working world.
Thoughtful research and good planning will smooth your way back into the job market. Here are some ideas for a smart fresh start:
1. Know Yourself
The more you discover about yourself, your likes and dislikes, your strengths, your passionate concerns and goals, the better your chances of building a happy work life. Who you are determines what you do best and how much you enjoy doing it.
2. Map Your Job Pros and Cons
Make a list of the things you liked and disliked about the jobs you have held in the past. What tasks did you really enjoy? Which ones were not satisfying for you? Like the graphic artist who became an art therapist, you may find a career path that uses your experience but takes you in a positive new direction.
3. Study Your Target Market
Once you know the kind of work you are looking for, find out how people train and gain access to that career path. The Internet, the local college career center, professional conferences are all great sources of up-to-date information. You may need to take courses or do some volunteering to gain fresh exposure to your chosen field.
4. Build Your Network
People you know and people you’ll get to know are the best source of job leads and inside track opportunities. From dress code to buzzwords, your network of friends, colleagues and contacts can supply the current information you need. Be willing to ask for help and be a resource for others when you can.
As a woman making a well-planned return to the work force, you have a unique opportunity to shape a career that will enrich your life and the lives of those around you.