If you’ve decided 2017 is your year to jump back into the workforce, but you have no idea where to start, take a breath and know, 1) you’re not alone and 2) career badassery is like muscle memory—it’s in you, you simply need to wake it up.
Many of my clients have taken time off to care for their children full time or for a sick or elderly parent. This world of potty training, tantrums, special needs testing or lining up round the clock care for mom--feels a galaxy away from the powerful meetings they used to lead with goals and agendas, collaborating with cross-functional teams to launch projects on time and on budget. It can feel that way, but know—these worlds are closer than they appear to be with the naked eye.
Outside of a resume and a few new skills, what I find are the two most critical things my clients need to re-enter the workforce are CONFIDENCE—the belief that you can get back into a career you enjoy and that you belong there, and CAREER MOJO—that feeling you have when ideas are flowing and there’s momentum on your career path.
Here are the three things you should do to regain your confidence and career mojo right now!
1. Take On a Project:
Getting into action around a topic you want to explore is the best way to boost both your confidence and your career mojo all at once! You could help a friend with her business by managing her social media and email marketing. Or you could run an event for your child’s school. As you step into your project, be intentional about the skills you want to learn, take copious notes on systems you’re setting up and ways you can improve your process. Take free and inexpensive online courses while working on your project so that you can put your new skills to the test in a specific and measurable way. Spend time writing ideas for tactics to take your skills to the next level within your project and beyond. Ask your project sponsor for a LinkedIn Recommendation so that you can demonstrate your hard work and innovative thinking during this time where you have a gap in your experience.
2. Build A Personal Brand And A Social Presence
When you’re job searching, one of the first things hiring managers will do is to take a look at your social presence. Does your LinkedIn match your resume? Are you active on LinkedIn? Do you like, post others’ content or write your own articles? If you’re going to be applying for Digital or Social Marketing positions, add Twitter and potentially Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Pinterest to the list. My advice here though, is to start with ONE you know and ONE on which you can post regularly before you set yourself up for Social World Domination. Usually when I talk to clients about a social presence, I hear a lot of, “What should I write?” I could (and should) write an entire post about this, but at a high level, you should start with 5-10 themes that make up the person you are. This works best when the themes range from the serious and professional to the mundane and quirky. For example, if you’re looking to join a Wellness Brand a potential list could be: Wellness Startup Profiles, Mind/Body Connection, Work-life balance, Favorite Books and Podcasts, Dogs. Now while you’re not going to write posts every week about dogs, a sprinkling of dog humor and ways that dogs help with wellness can be a way to better define the unique formula for who you are and how you stand out.
3. Connect With Your Supporters
Remember those people throughout your pre-kids career who advocated for you, mentored you, believed in you and pushed you farther than you pushed yourself? It’s time to put them on a list and start reaching out to them one by one. They won’t all have time to meet with you. Don’t take that personally! That’s why you’re making a list. Move on to the next person and begin setting up phone calls, coffees and lunches. Make it easy for them to help you by being flexible and working around their schedules and their desired venues. In your meetings, be sure to talk about your project, what you’re learning and where you want to go with your next step in your career. Set an intention to ask for one thing in each meeting. These people want to see you succeed. Don’t forget to ask for help in some way! They could connect you with contacts at companies you want to network into, or write a recommendation for you on LinkedIn or just be available for a support email from time to time.
You may be wondering how your resume didn’t make it to my top 3. Many of my clients think that their out of date resume is what’s holding up their re-boot, but I find that once these other pieces are in play, the resume, the direction and the list of companies to contact falls into place. Now go out and re-claim your confidence and career mojo so you can make 2017 your year!