You’ve been out of the workplace for a while, you may feel a bit nervous about restarting your career.
Make sure you market your top skills and highlight the value you can add by brushing up your personal brand. Whether you’ve been on a sabbatical, taken time out to have children or been on a break while you’ve been travelling, getting back into the workplace can be challenging. Make sure you get your personal brand in top shape to attract the attention of recruiters. Here are a few pointers to help you get started:
Research where you want to be. Find out the requirements of the position and do whatever you need to do to make sure you fit the bill, then use your network and contacts to target the job you want.
Talk to an honest friend. You need honest feedback on your personal brand. Ask a straight-talking friend to talk you through how others perceive you, the areas where you’re doing well and the areas where you could use improvement.
Focus on key relationships. Keep in touch with people in your industry. Think about the top people you want to know about your skills, talents and passion, and find ways to market your personal brand to them. Identify the core aspects you want them to understand about you and make sure you communicate those in every interaction.
Make sure you look the part. The fact is that we are judged by the image we project. Statistics show that people who look good are seen as more professional than those who don’t make an effort. Before you get to the stage of doing job interviews, invest in looking your best, even if it means calling on a professional image consultant.
Package your strengths effectively. Even if you don’t have a huge amount of experience in the area in which you’re planning to work, you can be clever about showcasing the skills you do have that you will make use of in the new position.
Get up to date with your industry. Read up on the latest trends and developments and be ready to talk about them. This shows prospective employers that you’ve done your homework and understand the environment.
Focus on your best projects and strengths. Make sure you show the value you can add to an organisation by highlighting your previous projects and their tangible benefits. If you have taken on a big project during your break, talk about that too, even if it was outside of your field of work. For example, if you successfully set up the PTA at your child’s school from scratch, it demonstrates people skills, initiative and management ability.
Be honest about the gaps in your work history. Don’t ignore the break you’ve taken. Rather offer an explanation supporting the reason for the break, which will help employers to understand your background. Highlight anything positive that you have undertaken during the break period, such as completing a computer course or volunteering.
Use the power of recommendations. Rustle up your testimonials and letters of recommendation. If you don’t have any, ask previous colleagues to write up short testimonials. Let other people market you in their own words.