Regardless if you have been out of work since Covid-19 furloughs began in March 2020 or you have taken leave of employment for several years while participating in childrearing, health issues, or other circumstances, check out these tips to enhance your workforce re-entry path.
Enhance your resume & social media profiles to help you get noticed
As you begin your job hunt, already having established a resume, cover letter, and social media profile on LinkedIn will be a big help. “When you update your resume, if there are significant gaps in your work history, cover those, without getting too personal. Plan to do the same thing on LinkedIn as well, since that where most recruiters start” (Mepham). Need help setting up or spiffing up your resume or social media profile? There are many free or low cost websites which can help. Try running a Google search like review my resume or linkedin profile builders. Be particularly careful to look closely at the job description in an employers ad. Customize each cover letter you submit so the potential employer so they recognize you aren’t just duplicating your efforts, but are truly responding to their specific employee search. Check out a recommendation from Glassdoor, “The cover letter is your first introduction to the person who may hire you, and its goal should be to make you as memorable as possible, in a good way. That means writing a unique cover letter for every job you apply to”(Glassdoor.com, How to Write A Cover Letter).
Virtual and technological realities since Covid pandemic
So many aspects of our work world have changed since Covid furloughs began in early 2020. Twenty years ago, if you heard the phrase Zoom-Zoom it was in reference to the Mazda car commercial. Today Zoom means something entirely different. Zoom and other virtual meeting platforms like Google Hangouts, Skype, GoToMeetings have become commonplace since the pandemic began. Virtual meeting rooms may not sit well with everyone, but they are here to stay. Technology and security improvements will continue to develop. Embracing or at least learning the basics of new technologies are a must.
Many employees now find themselves working from home. Does this sound like a good fit for you? If you will be seeking a home based position, you need to prepare in several ways.
- Internet service must be stable, reach out to your provider to see if you can or should increase your speed and capacity.
- Backgrounds for virtual meetings should be carefully designed. Maybe you are limited on space and your home office needs to be in your bedroom or laundry room? If so, be sure to have your virtual backdrop in order. By all means, eliminate clutter including dirty clothes on the floor!
- An investment in a camera, microphone, and lighting may be needed so you can successfully join others in online meetings.
- Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by kids or personal chores. Keep your work hours blocked and stay on focus with business related tasks.
- Even though much of your lifestyle is still virtual, remember you are still at work. You wouldn’t wear your P.J.’s to the office so don’t wear them to your home office desk.
- “If you’re working from home and your family will still be around, putting boundaries in place is pretty important. For example, put a sign on your door indicating you are in your office” (Tracy).
Returning to work after a long break
- If you previously specialized in a field, a lot may have changed in your industry, so be sure to brush up on your skills. You may need to take additional classes to become current or to reactivate a license you let lapse while on leave. “Be open to new experiences: The reality of reentering the work world is that you might have to make some compromises. Be open to part-time, project or contract work” (NicoleWilliams.com staff, Hints for going back to work). In doing so you may make new connections who can help further your career development or find you have an affinity for work you never previously anticipated. Jane Mepham, Founder and Principal Advisor at Elgon Financial Advisors suggests, “If you’ve been out of work for a long time, it may be a little more challenging and you are going to need a lot of patience as you wait for the right opportunity. Don’t neglect your health and well-being, make it a part of your routine. For example, a quick run or walk every morning or lunchtime. It will give you a chance to regroup, clear your mind, and energize you to keep going” (Mepham). Chris Yeagle, Principal and Financial Advisor of Honeygo Financial reminds us women make up a hearty percent of our working population. With time off for childrearing, women should stand proud knowing, “according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 32% of working women are mothers, so returning to work after having kids is nothing to be ashamed about” (Yeagle). Yeagle and statistics provided by the Census Bureau further suggest, women who have children but hold a bachelor’s degree tend to have higher income overall, therefore, consider pursuing higher education if time and resources permit (Bureau, 2020).
The job market for Career Changers
Consider a career change if you are returning to the workforce. This may be the ideal time to reinvent yourself. While thinking about the work you did previously, ask yourself it you were satisfied with your job description or are you ready to stretch and pursue a new career? Again, educational opportunities may be key. Today, trade schools can often provide a special differentiation to your skill set or take some time to check your local community college for classes which may benefit your return to work.
Financial advisors weight in with additional tips
- Mike Babcock, CFP® shares, “I believe how I dress affects my mood and my mindset so I try to dress professionally even when I’m working from home or don’t have appointments. For some dressing professionally might mean wearing a tie or nice jewelry. For others it might mean jeans instead of gym shorts or pajama pants. For me it means wearing something with a collar, which might mean a polo or a button down with a blazer when I meet with clients. The trick is not just ‘How might my attire affect my clients?’ but also ‘How might my attire affect me?’” (Babcock).
- Jorge Soriano said, “Treating myself to a homemade latte when it’s a busy day ahead is a must. I dedicate at least 10 minutes to the routine, perfecting the right brew. By offering myself this low-cost treat, I am prepared for a high-productivity type of day and it’s a way to get my mind cleared up and ready to go” (Soriano).
- Travis Tracy, CFP®, EA encourages readers that getting back into the routine you had before you were let go or furloughed is important particularly if you’re going to work from home. If you’re working from, having the mindset that you “have to go to work” will keep you focused and hopefully suppress that itch to go back on a Netflix binge (Tracy).
- Corey Beal, CFP® provides this advice,”working from home, it’s a lot easier to get sucked into projects or work and stay glued to my computer screens. I have learned that I need to set an alarm to take breaks throughout the day and to make sure one of these breaks includes some type of physical activity. I have also started meditating daily before I begin my work day and it helps start my day with positive energy and a clear head” (Beal).
Many conditions require a person to take a leave of absence or stop work for a short or long period of time. When preparing to re-join the workforce you will need to sell yourself by developing a fresh resume, social media profile (LinkedIn is an important business profile), and crafting cover letters tailored to each employer prospect are vital. Jane Mepham reminds us, “During interview, always, always focus on how the company will benefit by hiring you, not the other way round” (Mepham). “Like life, a career is not a linear path, it goes up and down. Consider positions that may not be the exact ideal situation and use them as learning opportunities, especially if you are looking to change careers” (Mepham). “Career Changers – concentrate on transferable skills and show how those can or will translate to the new industry. For example, teamwork, leadership skills, being organized and efficient – it doesn’t matter what industry you go to, you need those. When applying for positions or during the interview think of situations form your past career that showcase these skills” (Mepham). Being mindful of the challenges you face while staying courageous will help you as you search for your new employment opportunity. Contributing authors agree, when working from home be mindful of your own needs. Reenergize yourself with some special indulgences like a homemade latte or meditation time. Blocking a few minutes on your calendar for breaks, helps employees stay focused when on task.
About the Authors
Getting Back To Work was a collaborative effort of financial planners from Team XY Cohorts. Special thanks and reference to the following contributing authors:
Mike K. Babcock, CFP®
CEO, Financial Life Planner, and Chief Facilitator of Well-being
Azure Sky Financial Life Planning
Corey Beal, CFP®
CEO/Director of Joy of Empowering Finance and is a Registered Investment Advisor regulated by the State of Oregon. Corey provides financial planning and wealth management for the bold, ambitious, and badass who want to live a passion focused life.
Founder / Principal Advisor at Elgon Financial Advisors a Registered Investment Advisor in the state of Texas. She provides financial planning for immigrants including those on work visas. She is also a career changer, having moved from a very successful high tech position a few years ago to the financial planning industry to pursue her passion.
Travis Tracy, CFP®, EA
Fortitude Financial Planning, LLC
Principal | Financial Advisor
Marianne Martini Nolte, Certified Financial Planner ™ practitioner provides fee-only, fiduciary, independent financial services. Her firm, IMAGINE FINANCIAL SERVICES (IFS) is a registered investment advisor offering advisory services in the State of California and in other jurisdictions where exempted. Marianne’s focus is serving Women and Generations X, Y, and Z.
This article is intended as a high level view. All written content is for information purposes only. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of IFS, unless otherwise specifically cited. Material presented is believed to be from reliable sources and no representations are made by our firm as to other parties informational accuracy or completeness.
For more in depth information, please reach out:
Marianne Martini Nolte, CFP®
Imagine Financial Services
Phone, (760) 472-5155
Bureau, U. (2020, August 18). The Choices Working Mothers Make. Retrieved December 17, 2020, from https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2020/05/the-choices-working-mothers-make.html
How to Write A Cover Letter. (n.d.). Retrieved December 16, 2020, from https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/guide/how-to-write-a-cover-letter/
NicoleWilliams.com staff. (n.d.). Hints for going back to work. Retrieved December 16, 2020, from https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/going-back-to-work