After many years of being a stay-at-home mom, I am now in the process of seeking outside employment. I have found it to be very exciting. Having been out of the game for quite some time, I have to get used to all of the new ways of securing employment, networking, and the use of social media. It has been fun, but I have met with a few challenges. I feel that I have some valuable advice that would benefit anyone who is seeking employment after a long hiatus.
- Get a LinkedIn account
Before I began my job search I had a LinkedIn account, but I did nothing but supply basic information. Your LinkedIn account should be a version of your resume. List all experience relevant to the type of industry you are interested in. You may also want to list any experience that will secure you any type of employment if you aren’t looking for anything specific. Oftentimes experience you may deem as irrelevant may get you into the door of a company you may enjoy working for.
- Clean up your Facebook page
Many employers use social media in their recruiting process. Google your name and see what appears. If you feel that what you see is not what you want a prospective employer to see then you have some work to do. Those pictures of you passed out drunk in the back of your friend’s car may not help your chances of gaining employment at a reputable establishment.
- Perfect your resume
Seek professional help only if you have to. I would suggest that you not pay for one. There are too many free resources available. First make an attempt at creating one. Then as a knowledgeable friend for suggestions. If you are a student or and alumnus/alumna of a college or university, seek the help of your institutions career services. Remember that there may be some valuable experience in places many fail to list( ie. church organizations, volunteer work, or even class projects).
- Learn to write an effective cover letter
I feel the cover letter is one thing most of us feel the most insecure about. Just think of it as your personal commercial. If you are seeking employment with a specific company do your research. View their website or read their publications. Know the company’s mission and see were their values match your own and work that into your cover letter. This shows the employer that you are serious and willing to put some effort into professional image.
- Connect with others in your field
This is very important. For those of us who are reentering the workforce or new to the workforce altogether, connections can give you the inside scoop on employment opportunities. You can also learn from them and gain more contacts through your association with them.
- Secure excellent references
Chose references who can give the potential employer accurate and relevant information about your skills and character. Teachers and professors are excellent for this. I have asked my professors to act as a reference for me. Since I have not worked outside of the home for 7 years it was very important for me to be an excellent student. Although I’ve maintained a relationship with my former employer, that is only one reference.
- Maintain good relationships with former employers
Always try to leave on good terms if possible. It is amazing how small the world is. You never know who knows who. You also owe it to yourself to leave a good impression. As mentioned previously, former employers can provide excellent references if you leave in good standing.
- Always put your best foot forward
This is not only a rule for those seeking employment. This is a rule for life. You always want to project your best self. I was once offered a job because of the way I was dressed. I have also been told at an interview that the interviewer had heard good things about me. I may not have been granted an interview if the employer had heard negative things.
I hope this has been helpful. I would like to challenge all of us to help someone along the way. There are many of us who are in well-established careers and may be far removed from the job-seeking process. It can be very challenging. If you are in a position to be of any assistance, don’t hesitate to offer it.