5 Steps to Jumpstart Your Job Search Following a Career Break

I had a secret. After over a decade of staying at home with my kids, I decided it was time to go back to work. This idea felt monumental enough that it was easier and more comfortable to keep my plan to myself. Opening up about it would expose me to other people’s opinions and reactions. What would my family say? How would my friends respond?

If you’re like me, you may be unsure of how to kick off your career sequel.

Here are easy 5 steps to confidently jumpstart your job search without touching your resume:

Step 1: Go Public with Your Family and Friends 

It can feel like a very big step to disclose your career ambitions to those closest to you. Begin by simply stating, “I’m thinking about going back to work.”

You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do. It’s okay if you have a few or no plans. Think of this as a conversation starter. Your family and friends care about you and want you to find fulfillment. Sharing your thoughts with them will give you your first supporters as well as partners in accountability.

Step 2: Reach out to Former Coworkers

Extended career breaks can make you feel disconnected from your “professional” self. Your former colleagues, however, think of you as a member of the paid workforce. They have a “frozen in time” perception of you and remember how you worked hard and accomplished challenging tasks.

Contact your past coworkers, even if it has been a while. If you’d be pleased to hear from them, they will enjoy hearing from you. Even if you’re looking to go into a different industry, your former colleagues will likely be enthusiastic about your plan to return to work and will support your effort to get back in the game.

Step 3: Post on Social Media

It’s the magic of social media: strike a computer key and hundreds of people instantly learn about your return-to-work plans. Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn will do the heavy lifting and spread the word that you’re back on the job market.

The people in your network are connected to many others who can potentially steer you towards a job you’ll love. Use social media to go public and you’ll also find that it isn’t just about widening your opportunities. You’ll gain insight, support and a new team of cheerleaders.

Step 4: Leave Your House

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that job hunting is best conducted from inside your home and in front of a computer. According to the 2020 edition of What Color is Your Parachute, this strategy has a paltry 4% success rate. 

The likelihood of finding a job increases 5-fold simply by interacting with people and discussing your job search. Engage in conversations with people in your daily life (never underestimate the grocery store!) and the those you meet in new networks, including:

  • Neighborhood gatherings
  • University lecture series
  • Community speaker series 
  • Professional mixers

Connections occur in places you’d never expect. Get set to experience some pleasant surprises.

Step 5: Go on a Listening Tour

Sometimes the best way to learn is to sit back and listen. Reacquaint yourself with the job market by talking to people across a variety of industries in organizations of varying sizes. Do this over the phone or in person with lunch or a cup of coffee:

  • Tell them you’re curious to learn more about their job and their company
  • Ask them to detail a typical work day
  • Ask them what they enjoy most about their work
  • Have them describe their biggest challenges

Use these conversations as opportunities to learn. Discuss your background, seek out information and request feedback. 

Beginning your job search following a career break doesn’t have to be scary. The most important steps you take don’t even involve prepping your resume! Set aside a few minutes today – You already have the tools you need to begin your career sequel now.

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