You’ve got the power!
You have the power to tell your story in your own words every time you meet someone new, write a cover letter or go for a job interview. Don’t give away that power! It’s called positioning and if you don’t position yourself a certain way, others will position you where they think you belong. Positioning is so important that it’s one of the famed 4 P’s of marketing. Isn’t marketing yourself successfully what job searching is all about?
As a job seeker with a gap in your work history, you are an unconventional candidate. A recruiter will look at your resume and wonder “What was she doing during the years that she wasn’t working?” You don’t want a recruiter to wonder about you and here’s why:
Why You Must Tell Your Own Story
I have a recruiter friend who has looked at a resume with a gap in the presence of other recruiters. When there is no explanation for the gap, the recruiters discuss possible reasons why the candidate has a work gap and eventually settle on a reason that seems plausible to them. Then they use this made-up information to justify offering the candidate a lower salary since the candidate appears out of work and probably won’t negotiate. Sound wrong? You bet! But it happens, and this is why you must clearly position yourself as a viable job candidate with relevant skills and experience and no mystery.
How to take charge of your personal positioning:
#1 Know what you gained from your career sabbatical
Everyone knows it’s not easy raising children or caring for elderly parents, but it’s up to you to articulate why you are a better job candidate than the next person. Did you learn a new skill, manage people or projects through your church or your children’s school, do volunteer work or gain a new perspective on work and life? Consider your career break as one chapter in the long book of your career and practice speaking about your break and what you gained from it with confidence. Work this right into your elevator pitch.
#2: Have a compelling story about a recent skill upgrade that you pursued
Determine which skills are most valued in the line of work you want to get into, and be sure you not only possess them but can speak to how you recently updated them. Being able to say something like “I just took a course in data analytics at Wake Tech” or “I made a commitment to spend 5 hours a week on online coursework in Project Management skills” can make a powerful impression and position you as a continuous learner using your career break to prepare yourself for your next step. Be sure your recent coursework and skill upgrades are included on your LinkedIn profile.
#3: Make sure your resume isn’t full of holes
Write a strong Summary or Objective at the top of the resume that presents you as a professional and takes the mystery out of any significant work gaps. Consider attending the Back to Business Women’s Conference on February 21, 2020 in Research Triangle Park, NC where we’ll have a resume-writing workshop. Or seek 1-on-1 help from a professional resume expert like Mir Garvey of RTP Resumes.
Take charge of your professional reputation and personal brand. If you aren’t proactive about telling your story, you are missing out on the opportunity to market yourself as a great job candidate. I encourage you to think about what you want your professional identity to look like and to make sure that your resume, cover letters, LinkedIn profile and networking efforts are all working together to reinforce this identity. Have a cohesive story, own it and tell it with confidence.
Check out more articles with specific job-hunting tips for women returning to work after a career break at www.BacktoBusinessConference.com.
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