5 Steps to Build Confidence for Women Relaunching their Career - 2nd innings

Author: Suneeta Lawrence   |   Date: 22 Feb 2017   |   Comment: 0 Share:   |     |     |  

In the journey of life for a woman there is every likelihood of facing many twists and turns, ups and downs. While it may be smooth for some, it is a daunting journey for others and may lead to a career break too. It often gets intimidating especially if you have been on a career break for more than 2 years or for an extended period of time where, for family or other reasons, you left full-time employment. You now know there is a gap in your resume and a feeling of professional unease has crept in. I have spoken to many women so far and have discovered that there are challenges they face when returning to workforce, whether it is due to lack of confidence or connections. A break in career results in loss of personal identity along with low confidence for a woman.

Statistics show that in India only 24% women constitute the overall workforce, of which 48% drop out of the workplace and only 5% hold senior level positions, which ranks India at 113 in the Gender gap index. A recent survey suggested that over 83% of companies have placed diversity on medium to high priority for 2017. Many organizations have begun to prioritize gender parity within the workforce and are encouraging women to enter the corporate sphere.

Now, you know that you are not the only one to drop off from a successful career based on the above statistics. Given the above information and the encouragement by organizations for women to enter or relaunch their career in the corporate sphere and support to promote their professional growth, women can now look forward to some very good career opportunities. Employers want to hire women back, but you need to take that extra step to restart your journey.

Sure, it may not be easy to go back to work after being away for a long time. Fortunately, nothing in life stays forever due to the constancy of change. How about taking a decision to make a meaningful change than waiting for the fortune to unfold? While everything that happens in life cannot be controlled, the way one thinks and takes action will significantly shape one’s destiny. Going through a meaningful change can be exhilarating or stressful. The mind can make change bumpy or smooth based on what one focuses on. Focus on the most vital aspects of change for relaunching your career and making the process smooth and easy.

So, if you are ready to get on the journey, here are 5 steps that can help you restart your career after a break with confidence.

1. Set attainable short term goals

There is a great sense of fulfillment when you achieve goals. Hence, fix goals with timelines for yourself whilst being flexible and open minded by removing any kind of pressure off your mind. Look at taking up a course and finding new options as a first step. It is always a good idea to keep your skills updated. You could look for certification programs that might be useful in your industry or focus on something that you are interested in. Part time or flexi time jobs could help with the initial break of routine. When you see progress, you will automatically feel motivated to continue as there is a feeling of achievement knowing each goal is taking you one step closer to your final goal. Hence, make this a powerful tool and set a string of short-term goals, which are achievable milestones and work out your plan of action.

2. Focus on your strengths

Reflect on your strengths before you begin building or updating your resume. It is not about what you have accomplished in your career earlier or what roles you have done, but rather about what you loved to do and what was it that made you succeed. Consider the projects that made you most proud and the environments you thrived in. Where did you made an impact? What were your top skills? When you do an honest evaluation of your strengths and expertise, you will find it simpler to decide where to go now.

Never feel that you cannot offer the employer what someone who is younger can. After all, you have the wisdom and life experience, which are just as important.

3. Update your LinkedIn profile

As a first step, rewrite your resume and create a profile with LinkedIn. It is quite possible that LinkedIn was not popular the last time you were looking for a job, but it is critical for anyone looking for a job now. LinkedIn allows job seekers to post their complete resume for potential employers to view. Ensure you highlight any new skills that you acquired during the career break, it doesn’t matter what those skills are or how you learnt them. For example, if you did freelance work when on a break, that helped you develop greater levels of expertise in your area of work, write about it.

You will also find it easy to connect with old colleagues, professional acquaintances and friends, who may know someone who is looking for the skills that you possess. You could explore the groups, which allow you to connect with Alumni from your batch. Reconnecting with old contacts will help you learn more about the changes in the industry since you left the workforce or what career moves they have made for themselves. However, do not start conversations with them requesting for help to find a job immediately and give it some time to connect with them, gather information and deliberate.

4. Be adaptable

When you restart your career, you may not pick up exactly where you left off. The job you left five years ago may not even exist today or may require changed expertise. There are many new jobs, which require new skills. When you begin your job search, be sure to showcase your talents and what you are passionate about, not just your former designation. Accept the changes and be adaptable to accept roles that may be different from the ones you did earlier, for example an individual contributor role vis a vis a Team Leader role. It is quite possible that you may be working with people who are much younger than you or who never took time off from the workforce. Be ok with it.

Today’s jobs require a range of skills, an open mind and a desire to contribute where the business needs it most.

5. Network and tell the world

Just updating your resume online on job search sites, LinkedIn may not get you far. Look at ways you could network and start at least 3 months before you intend to return to work. Talk to ex-colleagues, friends, family members, neighbors about potential opportunities they may know of. There are chances are that at least one of them will know about and maybe even refer you to a job opportunity that wasn’t advertised.

Most employers hire people they know through networking / referrals. Being on a career break can sometimes throw you out of the networking loop so you need to make new or re-establish your old connections. You could explore joining professional associations or groups and go for the meetings at least once in a month. This way you will not only stay abreast with the changes in the industry, but may even discover some hidden opportunities that will work well with your plan.

Getting back to work after a career break is a unique challenge; however with a positive approach and a well planned job search strategy, you should be able to relaunch your career with ease.

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