Think about what new skill you have picked up that you can add to your resume to make it stronger says Neha Bagaria, founder and CEO, JobsForHer.
Photograph: Kind courtesy
When women choose to return to work after a gap year or a break, most of them find that they are at a disadvantage.
There are many aspects to the 'Restart Puzzle' that women need to sort through in order to successfully re-enter the workforce.
Many of them feel that matching their skill-set with the specific needs of a company a daunting task as many companies have undergone a huge change.
Here's what women need to do before they dip their toes back into the workforce:
1. Find your 'X' factor
Think about what new skill you have picked up that you can add to your resume to make it stronger; maybe you have volunteered for something, worked as a freelancer or a consultant.
You can explain to potential employers how this helped improve your leadership and organisational skills.
Start making a note of them and get creative with your resume.
Write a short summary on top of your resume as you wish to be seen.
Highlight your skills and weave in new experiences you've gained in your time away, to better sell yourself as a great candidate for the job.
2. Update your social media profile
Make sure you post your updated resume on job sites and update your profile picture as well.
Tidy up your social media profile by untagging yourself from pictures you don't want potential employers to see.
Start making relevant contacts and follow companies and people that interest you.
Get in touch with ex-colleagues and former bosses and ask them for a recommendation.
Also, add current activities and post pictures where you probably volunteered for across your social media.
3. Network like never before
Attend conferences/workshops to connect with people from your profession, and to stay abreast of industry trends.
You can meet like-minded women for inspiration, attend reskilling workshops, get mentored by industry experts and meet companies looking at diversifying their workforce.
4. Reskill to restart
New technologies, new processes and new skillsets have brought new paradigms in the workplace.
Hence a sabbatical from work would be the best time to upgrade your skills to address the skills gap that needs to be bridged before getting back into the workforce.
The ability to refresh the old and learn the new infuses the strength to overcome a confidence deficit as well.
There are plenty of online tutorials in whatever skill/subject you feel you would like to work in.
Additionally, you could take classes/workshops or attend meetups.
Reskilling will not only show how passionate you are about your field but will also boost the professional development section of your resume.
It will keep you motivated and prepare you to handle questions at interviews.
5. Let a mentor guide you
Usually, women lose confidence, connectivity, and their key skills when they take a career break, so the support and encouragement mentors offer, is a huge confidence-builder for them.
Women need that someone to guide them and give them a little push back up the ladder.
Mentors can point women returnees in the right direction to meet the many challenges they face during their break.
Quality mentoring greatly enhances chances for success while restarting a career.
There are a host of available online webinars and expert chats, where mentors share their expertise on any particular subject.
They address questions and provide essential pointers on trends in the current workforce.
Get connected with a mentor who can identify and help you with job search strategies by identifying and developing your key competitive advantages.
6. Find your circle
When a woman makes that life-changing decision to step away from a successful career to look after the needs of her family and those who depend on her, she very often does not also make a comeback plan.
Even if she does, it often, eventually, falls by the wayside. This is because of a plethora of factors that contribute to the plan’s demise.
Those factors are the village. The network of people in her circle often dissuades her when she starts to think about getting back to work.
She can gainfully use this same network to restart.
She needs the support of, her husband, her children, her parents and in-laws, her siblings, her ex-colleagues, her social network, her alumni network, basically everyone she knows.
Societal support will enable her will to restart.
Tell her that she can and should. Tell her that it IS possible.
Tell her how she can figure out along the way the work-life balance that all of us need to maintain on a daily basis; societal support is meant to build her up again, brick by brick.
7. Confidence sells, build it
You need to be applying to at least 10, if not 20 jobs a day if you are trying to get back into the workforce.
Attend as many interviews as you can.
Once you start interviewing you will gain more and more confidence in yourself.
Confidence sells like nothing else can. Build it by exercising it!