Q: I had a professional career for about 15 years. I left the workforce to become a full-time mom. I would like to return to my career but I am a bit fearful. My field has changed over the last 15 years and I am not sure anyone would even consider hiring me. Where do I start?
A: I appreciate your candor!
Here are some suggestions:
1. Re-learn your industry. What has changed? Attend an industry workshop. What are the current hot issues in your industry? It is likely that technology has changed your industry. If so, learn more about how new technologies which have influenced you industry.
2. Re-connect with colleagues, friends or others within your industry. The value is not only this one person with whom you are meeting for coffee, but it is all of their connections. Be gracious and thank them for their time with an email.
3. LinkedIn is key to your professional success. Invest tome time and energy building a profile on LinkedIn. Include a professional photo. Begin to add connections on LinkedIn. Join professional groups on LinkedIn. If your industry is media, join media groups. If you live in Natick, MA, join groups which make sense (e.g. metro west, Boston, Massachusetts).
4. Don’t sit behind your computer. Schedule a specific number of hours to meet others in person and hold yourself accountable. While LinkedIn is helpful in building your contacts, it is not a replacement for face-to-face networking. Join networking groups where information is shared. The high-quality networking groups will also push you to develop an elevator speech (more on that next) and share job leads. Have simple business cards printed so you can share your card with others.
5. An elevator pitch is a 1-2 minute summary of who you are and why you are here. “I am Jane Smith and I am re-entering the workforce and interested in returning to finance. After I graduated from Babson, with a degree in accounting, I worked for two biotech companies in the Boston area. In my last role, I was a controller for a publically traded company. I am looking for similar opportunities now and would consider consulting or contract opportunities.”
6. Consider non-traditional ways of re-learning about your industry. Blog about trends. Attend industry events and offer to post updates on Linkedin. Consider contract or consulting roles, which will build your resume and your confidence. It is ok to accept volunteer roles if they would develop contacts, enhance your skills and help you re-enter the workforce.
Each step forward will build your confidence. A success re-entry is possible!