Q. I have been out of the job market for 12 years as a full time Mom. I started my job search about three months ago, and I am feeling challenged by hiring managers lack of receptivity to my ability to transition back to the world of full time work. I’m a human resources professional and am confident my expertise is current and valuable. I know how to work and I have the energy to deliver. How can I convince at least one hiring manager I’m ready to come back full time?
A. You are coming back into a very competitive job market, so everything about your presentation needs to be of the highest caliber. There has been a great deal of movement in the human resources marketplace in the last two years, and the issues facing HR people have changed as well. Twelve years is a long time to be out and you need to make sure your resume, your LinkedIn profile and your networking support tell a compelling story about why people should meet with you.
Start with your LinkedIn profile. Use the recommendations area and the new endorsement areas. Develop a list of the competencies you want to showcase, and ask former colleagues to write recommendations expanding on those skill sets. Use at least two people from each role you had, and ask the same people, and others to endorse the skills you have the greatest desire to use. Some people may suggest you add any volunteer work you chose to participate in while you were out of the work place. I do not suggest this. Evaluate each activity very selectively for the impression it gives. If it is a highly professional activity, it may be appropriate, but if the activity screams “MOM”, leave it out.
Don’t overlook the visual. Get a great current picture – no kids, pets, vacation shots, and no ghosts – do not leave this blank. Make sure you look like a terrific colleague ready to go to work.
On LinkedIn, search the companies you used to work for and your target employers and start to follow them. The information about your former employers will help you find people you should be connected to, and help you expand your contacts quickly. You’ll also be able to access current jobs at these firms. These contacts, the people who know your work history best, may be the first people to help you identify a range of opportunities other than just full time.
Look at projects, assignments, contracts, and consulting opportunities which are a step to get you back into current employment. Once you are in the world of the working, the questions about the prolonged separation from work will evaporate. Adding current projects to your resume and LinkedIn profiles becomes an opportunity for multiple updates on LinkedIn to alert your contacts about changes in what you are doing and the kind of opportunities you seek. You also get current work to discuss in your networking meetings, and this will make it easier to get the attention of search and staffing people.
Join and attend professional association meetings. Most have reduced fees for professionals in transition, and job search groups. Ask HR colleagues about LinkedIn groups that post current jobs in human resources.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.