27 September 2023

Re-entering the workforce: Three tips from women who’ve done it

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Fairygodboss* gathers some advice for women re-entering the workforce after a career break.

Are you on a career break and thinking about rejoining the workforce? Is some kind of fear holding you back?

Women at all stages of their careers struggle with feeling unqualified for their roles (hello, imposter syndrome!), but career reentry can be an especially scary process for even the most qualified applicants.

You aren’t alone in wondering: “where do I start, and is it worth it?”

  1. I’m worried about representing a career gap on a resume, or in an interview.

One of the biggest fears women reentering the workforce face is that they are no longer qualified for the jobs they are applying for, or that representing their career break will be difficult.

What if you missed out on the newest industry developments? How do you explain your gap as growth? How should you write it out on your resume? And what if the interviewer doesn’t think you’re dedicated because you spent years outside of the workplace?

How to manage:

You can quell these concerns by taking a few action steps during your job search.

First, tackle your fear that you aren’t knowledgeable by reminding yourself that you have relevant and important previous experience.

Burns suggests that you can also learn more about how to apply your previous experiences to a new field or role by talking to women in the field in a casual setting.

Now that you’ve tackled how to present your previous experience, how should you present your gap?

Karuna Barla, a Software Engineer at IBM, suggests talking up any new skills you learned in an organic setting.

For her, that meant learning coding languages for her parenting blog and adding those to her resume.

Remember that not all skills are technical or job-specific skills.

Tilak emphasizes that you’ve likely gained many applicable soft skills from the life you’ve been experiencing outside of work — and that those can be very valuable.

  1. I’m worried about recovering or gaining skills/technical knowledge quickly enough.

Another common fear women have when they reenter the workforce is that they will not have enough skills to contribute to their new team, that they will take a long time to recover or gain these skills, or that they generally will not be strong team members.

That’s imposter syndrome to the extreme.

How to manage:

First, it’s important to remember that you were selected for a reason.

The best way to get meaningful advice and guidance? Seek out a mentor.

  1. Don’t sell yourself short.

Your skill set is unique to you and you alone.

No one else has your specific skill set- which is why you should emphasize it as much as possible!

How to manage:

Know your strengths and make sure they are well represented on your resume.

*Fairygodboss is a job search site that can be used by anyone, but specialises in helping women find work in almost any industry.

This article first appeared at fairygodboss.com.

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