Facing separation or divorce is overwhelming. If going back to work is a future you must face for financial reasons, then a new dimension of overwhelm is on the cards. In fact, you probably think it is not possible because of the chaos it creates in you, in your life and with your already ‘tender’ nerves.
Perhaps you have a gap in your career because you chose to be a home-maker; or perhaps you were waiting till the children were old enough and more independent before pursuing your career, perhaps you’ve never worked or perhaps you gave up your studies. Then there’s the questions about your CV, how the potential employer will view you with the career gap, and the use of social media in finding jobs…
Whatever your situation, there’s never been a better time to find a job. Rest assured that there is a place for you within an organisation and employers are looking for women just like you.
Yes, but you’re thinking…
You have no skills, you don’t have the experience, employers won’t consider you because of your age, you don’t know IT, you haven’t worked for a while, you’re rusty, you’ll be competing against young university hot-shots, you lack the confidence, you’ve never had any training… (feel free to add why you don’t think you’re capable here…)
…you have every right to have those thoughts, they are valid. Approaches to job seeking and job getting adventure has changed dramatically. Yet, there are ways to move away from those thoughts and move into the future more confidently by first considering the advice provided below.
While getting back into the job market, you might consider using the Resume writer, a coach or a recruitment firm – depending on your needs; how much experience you have to prepare an application package (Resume, Cover Letter and any other Skills requirements you are required to respond to) and what your timeline is to get a job or that all important promotion.
To ensure success here are 7 Top Tips
A Resume provides a potential employer an overview of your skills, experience and relevant qualifications. It is often the first introduction to you and it is important you get this right. A Cover letter will accompany a Resume as part of the application package and its purpose is to convey to the potential employer what makes you are the ideal candidate. The Cover letter is a window to your personality, your character and your motivation for applying for the job.
There are 3 types of Resumes:
This provides your most recent employment first to the last in reverse date order and is more appropriate if you have been in the workforce, irrespective of duration or whether full-time or part-time. If you have a career gap this is not necessarily the best approach;
This type is practical if you have a gap in employment because it highlights your skills and experience. The benefit of this type of Resume is that you list the most relevant job and not the most recent – relevant to the skills that match the job requirements. Let Google be your friend if you’d like to see some examples or use templates for functional Resumes;
- Combination of both functional and chronological
Here you will first include a summary description of your skills, experience, qualifications etc. Then you follow this up with a reverse chronological of your work experience. This can also work well.
To note: work experience does not only mean paid work. Perhaps you volunteered in a charity shop, you did the administration for your former partner’s business from home, or did the bookkeeping for your child’s school committee or were a committee member for a sports club etc. Whatever it is that you did, it is work – paid or unpaid.
Also, your Resume should be 1 page, maximum 2 pages. Anything longer will not get read!
Using AI-powered tools
There are a number of AI (Artificial Intelligence) tools which assist with job search to help that showcases your skills and expertise. These tools also help to streamline your job search, analyse job descriptions and tailor your resume and LinkedIn profile, to generating personalised cover letters. The best part is that you don’t need to have computer skills to use these tools. Other tools include the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) https://www.jobscan.co/blog/8-things-you-need-to-know-about-applicant-tracking-systems/, a system devised to assist swamped recruiters filter applications. Using ATS, recruiters can sift through thousands of Resumes to bring out the candidates that are best suited for the position using key words.
If you’re submitting an online application:
Do: use plain fonts, key words used in the job ad, keep the Resume simple
Don’t: use colours, graphics, frames or any designs
There is nothing more exciting and more nerve racking than going for a job interview. One would have to be a super cool cucumber to say there are no nerves or butterflies in the stomach when interviews are concerned. To be sure, whether you’ve had a career gap or have been in the job market for a number of years, interviews and nerves go hand-in-hand. Don’t let nerves paralyse you. Hence, good preparation is vital.
Contact the organisation or the person who invited you for the interview and ask if you need to bring anything e.g., certificates, your CV, ID etc.
Needless to say, you did your research on the company, their product/services prior to writing your application. You also need to prepare for the questions they will ask you. Scan the job ad for the experience they need, can you demonstrate a time when you used the necessary required skills, what was the outcome etc.
Use their website to see how they portray their staff and their dress code, the colours. If possible, dress to match the colours. If they are in corporate attire, that’s what you wear at the interview. If the dress is business casual, do something similar. The potential employer needs to see you as if you were already part of the team. Needless to say: no jeans, shorts or T-shirt – unless it is a requirement of the business e.g. a retail shop for casual wear may want to see you in jeans and T-shirt. It will all depend on what the job is.
Be well-groomed, clean (yes, I know…), clean shoes and easy on the perfume.
More often than not since COVID and with remote work options, you are asked to interview online or send a video. It would be useful to connect with someone who is working or has a keen eye for detail to arrange your background set-up.
If you imagine you are having your passport photo taken – be in the centre of the screen. While you may have a great forehead or chin, the potential employer wants to see your face. Ideally a blank wall behind you or a neat bookshelf. If you are using a kitchen, your kid’s room, or under the stairs be mindful of a full sink, ironing boards or a poster of Marilyn Manson or Thomas the Tank Engine in the background (unless you are applying for child-care assistant). Most importantly, quiet (send everyone out, granny, sitter or go to a Library), ensure your internet is good (kids off the online games, mobiles etc. until after the interview).
More and more employers check shortlisted applicants’ social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Tik Tok etc.). Depending on how active you are and how you express your political, religious, societal views: employers want to see what you are about. Of course, you are free to voice your opinion, whatever it may be, however, employers want to see whether you are a good fit within the company culture.
The professional social media go-to site is recruiters is LinkedIn and creating a profile, with a recent up-to-date profile photo is a must for job seekers, don’t forget to look professional in your photo (meaning you don’t have to pay for professional photo shoot but dress accordingly). Let Google and YouTube videos be your friend to educate, show and tell you how.
For job seekers, there is no better place than the job sites. Some examples include Seek, Indeed, Totaljobs, Careerbuilder, Monster, LinkedIn etc. There are also job sites for specific industry e.g. timeshighereducation.com/unijobs (international), FinancialJobBank, UNjobs, do a simple Google search can direct you to in your respective country and to the trade or specialisation you are seeking.
It’s always good to research the kind of jobs on offer, the salaries being offered and how many jobs are available. This will give you a good idea on what the job market is doing for your skillset.
Irrespective of the job you want to do: from customer service to bookkeeping, from Marketing to data analytics, there are courses online which will match what you are looking for. Many of them are free – especially if you use YouTube to review some tasks to update yourself. From sales how-to to a crash course on Xero, Microsoft skills on all the Office suite etc.
Give yourself every chance you can to succeed and use what is readily available to you, the internet!
If you need to invest in an actual course, then invest in yourself on this course. It will be money well spent.
For many, when they hear the term ‘networking’ they cringe. Comments such as “I’m not good at starting conversations with people I don’t know” or “I never know what to say” or “I don’t like the meaningless chit-chat”. I hear you!
Networking is a big word which basically means talking to someone about something you are interested in and showing interest in them and what they do. I am sure you chat to mums, school yard monitors and teachers about things. You don’t necessarily know them all. Well, you are networking with them but instead of talking about the weather, what you need to say is: “I’m thinking of going back to work as a XX and I haven’t been in the job market for a bit, what advice would you give?”
You can have that same conversation with your friends, members of your family who are employed and so on. You will find them all willing to talk about their jobs, their experiences etc. You’ll find that often women get their first break back into the workforce through word-of-mouth. There are Facebook groups for women going through separation or divorce who want to get to work or women going back to work which you can join and ask questions.
If you’re feeling brave, go to a Job Fair, to a conference specific to your specialisation or approach a recruitment agency and ask them a few questions. By speaking to people about your future job intentions you’ll get free advice, you’ll build confidence, find out about opportunities before they’re advertised, you’ll learn from others’ experience and you get updated information about your specific area of work.
Going back to work after a break is unnerving. If you are going through a life change such as separation or divorce, then it will feel like you have nothing but challenges. Fear not. You may worry about competing with younger, sharper, fitter women – this could be but they don’t have your life experience. You may feel like you’re a technological dinosaur, well if you can use email, surf the internet and are reading this blog – you’re not prehistoric.
You are encouraged to follow the advice above and to be brave. You have all you need to get this first job and soon, eventually, you’ll look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.