For those who don’t know, an elevator pitch (also called elevator speech) is quick, clear, and concise response to that timeless question: “What do you do?”
Before I get started, you should know that career breaks are actually quite common. People take a hiatus from working for all sorts of reasons – to raise a family, complete a degree or advance their education, provide caregiving for a loved one, recover from a physical or mental health situation, travel, road test self-employment – like I said, LOTS of reasons.
Re-entry back into the workforce can seem overwhelming. The longer your break, the more anxiety-inducing the experience. Considering how quickly hiring practices, job search techniques, and the employment landscape can change in just a few years, a little hesitancy and anxiousness is understandable.
Getting started is usually the hardest part, but I do have a few action steps that can help ready and prepare you for job search success.
Conduct a Personal Audit
Don’t just jump into a job search blind and unprepared. Take time to do an honest self-assessment of your goals, strengths, weaknesses, knowledge, skills, and experience. The job market is competitive – you’ll be competing for the same jobs that other applicants with similar, and in some cases more experience, so this exercise is critical.
Goals: Do you know what type of job, profession, or industry that you’ll target? What does the employment landscape for the positions you want to apply for look like? Are there opportunities? Are there any interesting trends?
Strengths: What do you do well? What do you consider your advantages? What resources can you access? How do you compare with your competitors?
Weaknesses: What don’t you do well? What type(s) of jobs should you avoid? How do you compare with your competitors? Can any of your weaknesses threaten your job search? And if so, can you do anything about it immediately or over time?
Obstacles: What specific challenges do you face? What is your competition doing? Are the requirements and/or specifications for your job, products, or services changing? Is changing technology going to affect your job prospects? Do you have debt or financial issues that may negatively impact my employment?
By answering the questions in these 4 categories, you’ll be in a better position to map out an effective plan of action.
Update Your Resume
If you’ve been out of the job market, it’s probably time to update your resume. Even if you haven’t held a position during this break, you may have skills and experiences relevant to the position(s) you plan to target that should be communicated in the resume. Did you obtain a degree or some other training? Did you volunteer? Have you acquired new technology skills?
Keep in mind that the way resumes are assessed and processed has also changed to involve AI and other technology so keywords are crucial to getting yours into the hands of decision makers for further consideration. Focus on keeping the content brief and concise, focusing on specific accomplishments instead of general tasks. If possible, work with a professional or someone you trust that can provide an objective viewpoint and help in getting your resume job search ready.
Update Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is no longer optional – the sooner you accept that you need a professionally branded profile, the better. As one unidentified recruiter put it, “If you’re not on LinkedIn, you don’t exist.” That’s no exaggeration.
Based on recent stats, 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn as a primary talent acquisition resource and 84% of organizations are now hiring directly from social media platforms that include LinkedIn. Many career trend outlets consider LinkedIn a “career necessity” and are forecasting that LinkedIn will continue to grow in importance as the job search and hiring practices intersect and continue to evolve.
For most job seekers, there’s no excuse not to be on LinkedIn. You can easily create a free account to build a complete profile that professionally communicates your personal brand, skills, credentials, and career accomplishments.
Create an Action Plan
Your plan doesn’t need to be complicated. It should include a list of specific, repeatable actions that you can commit to performing daily toward achieving your goal. Create a schedule and stick to it.
Tap into the “Hidden” Job Market
Did you know that over 75% of open positions are NEVER publicly advertised?
If your only job search method is using job boards, you’re doing yourself disservice because you’re leaving a lot of career opportunities on the table. Here are some tips for accessing the hidden job market:
Build a List of Companies: Once you have identified a job target, you can work on building a list of 30-50 different companies that employ the position(s) you are targeting in your job search. Are you looking to work in a specific industry? What kind of work environment or company culture would be your ideal? Once your list is complete, rank them in order of importance. Research each company to find key contacts/decision makers, opening positions, etc. via company websites, LinkedIn, industry trade journals, local library resource subscriptions to platforms like ResourceUSA, The Book of Lists, and Hoovers Online are good places to dig in to do some deep research.
Network with Purpose
According to The Harvard Business Review and Execujobs.net, somewhere around 80%-85% of open job positions are never publicly posted. How can you access those opportunities? Tap into your network – colleagues, friends, family – spread the word that you’re searching because you never know who’s connected.
Get to know a few recruiters, especially those that source talent for specific industries and companies. These guys often have the inside scoop on hidden jobs, PLUS if they can get you hired, they get paid!
Join online industry forums, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups , and other organizations to increase your online visibility and gain access to useful information and the support and guidance of professional communities.
Utilize Social Media Strategically
A lot of companies use social media as part of their recruitment process so building your professional brand on these platforms can increase your visibility. Identify industry influencers, brands, and companies you’d like to for and engage by liking and retweeting posts, and participating in conversations to get on their radar. Share industry and other relevant information updates.
Image: Danielle MacInnes