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Advice / Job Search / Finding a Job

Ask an Honest HR Professional: How Can I Re-enter the Workforce After a Long Break?

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Dear HR Professional,

I’m re-entering the workforce after a four-year break. Do you have any strategies to help?

Ready to Return

Dear Ready to Return,

Congrats on the decision to return to the working world! Starting the job search can be intimidating for anyone—but, especially when you’ve been out of the game for a while.

Fortunately, there are a few tips and strategies that can help you get back out there.

1. Do Your Research

In the grand scheme of things, four years might not seem like that long. But, roles and companies are continually evolving. Spend some time exploring companies and job descriptions to see what your ideal role and company look like. It might’ve changed!

2. Update Your Resume

Your time away might make you feel like you have nothing new to add to that document of yours. But, try to think if there’s anything in the past four years that’s worthy of being included there, such as projects, volunteer work, or classes you’ve taken.

Updating your resume can seem like an overwhelming task, but fortunately we have a great resource that walks you through the process step-by-step.

3. Build Your Network

You’ve heard that old “it’s not always what you know, but who you know” cliché. It’s true—a solid network’s important when you’re job searching.

The best way to expand your web of contacts is to go to events within your industry. You can explore websites like Meetup or Eventbrite to see what’s going on in your area. Going to these sorts of events not only helps you learn and re-familiarize yourself with your industry, but attending can also open up doors to opportunities. You may meet someone who is hiring or who knows someone who is!

Before you go, be sure to check out tips for navigating networking events. Also, don’t forget to tap into your existing support group. Tell your friends and family that you’re looking to re-enter the workforce and ask them to keep you in mind when they hear of opportunities. The more people you have in your corner, the better!

4. Bring Yourself Up to Date

Let’s be honest, having a four-year break might mean that you’re a bit rusty when it comes to the latest and greatest happenings in your field. It’ll be easier to impress a hiring manager and then get up to speed in your new role if you’ve been keeping tabs on current events, changes, and advancements.

Set a goal to spend 30 minutes each day delving into relevant books, articles, videos, blogs, and other industry-relevant resources. Signing up for newsletters is another great way to get updates delivered right to your inbox. Depending on your field, there may be free or low-cost webinars that you can sign up for, as well.

I know that re-entering the workforce after some time away can be intimidating. Hopefully these tips help you dip your toes back in that water, find your perfect new role, and then get up to speed as quickly as possible. Good luck!

This article is part of our Ask an Expert series—a column dedicated to helping you tackle your biggest career concerns. Our experts are excited to answer all of your burning questions, and you can submit one by emailing us at editor(at)themuse(dot)com and using Ask an Honest HR Professional in the subject line.

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