The director of Career Resources & Personal Brand Strategy at Kaplan University shares these tips.
Begin your job search by preparing a personal brand statement that defines you and your next job. You’ll need to organize your thoughts into a few sentences that quickly state your career objective and the top skills, qualities and track record that “prove” you have what it takes to do the job you want. It’s always best to get feedback on your personal statement (both the written and verbal versions) from someone who knows your skills well.
On Ramp: If you haven’t been in the workforce for a longtime, you may want to mention a couple of skills or accomplishments from your personal life. Then update or write a new resume based on your statement. Here are resources for resume writing and job search support: www.quintcareers.com, www.eresumewriting.com, www.jobweb.com. Planning for a new job is a good time to rethink your appearance and shift from your “mom” image to a “professional” one. Your regular workplace wardrobe may not be appropriate for an interview, and your nice mom “going out” clothes may be more suited for social occasions than a professional environment. “Fifty-five percent of another person’s perception of you is based on how you look,” according to Kim Zoller at Image Dynamics. So, take cues from how other successful women in the field you are pursing present themselves and update your outfits, hair style, makeup, shoes and accessories. See www.collegegrad.com for more helpful advice.
Those who are most successful conduct a broad job search that includes both traditional and non-traditional approaches. Most jobs are never announced outside an organization and many new-hires come from knowing or meeting someone through a contact inside. You need to make yourself visible with everyone who knows you and your abilities. Find support groups for moms online and in your community, and let their members know what you are seeking. Ask for introductions to people they know at work and in their families who may have experience and contacts to share with you. While online job hunting is helpful, it should not account for more than 20 percent of your search time. It can be helpful to participate in online professional organizations in your chosen field and social media sites, such as LinkedIn, to access decision makers and establish relationships with people at companies in which you are interested. You can also check those companies’ sites for job postings.
Finally, you’ll need to prepare for the interview. After the shock of losing a job or years spent at home with your children, interviewing will take some practice. Find a friend or relative you trust and rehearse a “mock” interview. Be sure you can succinctly and smartly explain why you lost your last job or why you are committed to re-entering the workplace.
After Layoffs: If you’ve been laid off, it is important NOT to be defensive. Instead, substantiate how over the course of your career or life you have attained the skills needed for the job. Interviewers are impressed by candidates who show they are knowledgeable about the organization, so be sure to research the company before you arrive.