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.