“I blinked and technology completely changed!”
My client felt paralyzed. Like so many others who left the workplace to care for family, her career break turned out to be a break from the latest technology.
“How can I go back to work when I’m so far behind?” she worried.
It’s true: tech trends change and advance at a breakneck pace. Computer and software companies strive for innovation, keeping consumers investing in quicker, smarter, more intuitive products. It’s enough to make you feel lost and insecure, especially when you’re looking to go back to work.
But know this: just because your tech skills are rusty doesn’t mean that they have to stay that way.
Here are 3 critical steps to get you back in the tech loop following a career break:
Step 1: Get Your Own Computer
If you want to make real progress with technology, have a computer, laptop or tablet that is just for you. You will use it for so many things, including:
- Reaching out to your friends and family to discuss your new career goals
- Updating your resume
- Searching for job opportunities
A portable device will give you the added flexibility of being able to work where and when you want without being at the mercy of your family schedule. It will be your career sequel companion.
Forget negotiating for computer time with your kids. Establish boundaries so that your family knows that the device is for your personal use, not for your kids’ homework, correspondences or entertainment.
Step 2: Know How to Do the Basics
There are countless software programs out there; no one expects you to be an expert in all of them. There are, however, basic tasks commonly required across industries and occupations. Know how to do these and you are off to a great start:
- Create a simple document. Use a word processing program like Microsoft Word, Pages or Google Docs.
- Design a presentation. Power Point, Keynote or Google Slides are user-friendly programs that will help you present like a pro.
- Generate a spreadsheet. Use Microsoft Excel, Numbers or Google Sheets to create a simple table that adds, subtracts, multiplies and divides.
- Understand videoconferencing. Microsoft Teams, WebEx or Zoom are two of the many different platforms preferred by organizations.
Step 3: Get the Tech Help You Need
Feeling rusty with your tech? Not to worry; help is plentiful and free.
- YouTube is at your fingertips with literally thousands of tutorials to walk you through basic or advanced concepts. It’s a great place to begin when you’re learning something new.
- Microsoft or Apple stores offer a regular schedule of free individual and group classes. Sign up and gain access to a knowledgeable and experienced instructor.
- Your children have been raised with technology and use it regularly. Don’t hesitate to ask for their help. You’ll gain a new appreciation of them and they will enjoy having a turn at being the wiser, savvier family member.
It’s natural to feel out of the loop with technology if you’ve been on a career break. The good news is that everyone, whether they’re working or not, is continuously adjusting their skills to keep up with ever-changing tech trends.
Establish your computer skills baseline. Then, move forward with confidence knowing you’re ready for your career sequel.