Ask the ExpertRandy Prange is a business advisor and CEO of Insights, Inc., a nationally recognized strategic planning and business development firm.
Re-entering the Work Force
Q: I've been out of the professional work environment for six years in order to share my children's formative years. Now I'm ready to re-enter the work force, but I'm worried about how to compete again. I left a good job as an entry-level manager and would like to pick up there again. Is it possible, or will I have to start all over again at the bottom?
Lynn, Ready to work in St. Louis
A: Dear Lynn,
Don't hesitate to go after the level of job you were trained for when you left the work force six years ago.
However, take a few minutes and look at yourself from the potential hiring manager's viewpoint. The questions she/he will be asking are:
- How prepared is this person and how much training will I have to invest to bring her back up to speed?
- How dedicated is she to making herself successful (and me too!)?
- How will she balance her private life with the demands of this job, after having spent so many years only focusing on the children?
Here are some ideas for taking on the exciting and rewarding challenges:
- Always be positive! If you are, it will show. That is one of the key attributes a manager usually wants.
- Get organized.
- Be prepared to demonstrate your skills.
- Show your commitment and maturity.
- Listen closely to the questions in the interview and be thoughtful in your answers.
Preparing yourself for the challenges
1. Put together a support group. It can consist of working friends, neighbors, contacts you make through family/friends/organizations you belong to, professional business coaches and so on.
Use this group to identify the types of jobs available today that fit your skills and training. Learn about the requirements of those jobs from the support groups and through calling potential employer's human resources departments. Then seek out and get the updated training you might need to put you on par with others already in that job field.
For example, how current are you on the equipment, technology and job requirements. Rapid changes are occurring in workplace technology and business systems. The fact you are on the Internet asking these questions tells me you have some level of currency in this area. Can you conduct more complicated searches or use the Internet for applications that the job(s) you are seeking might require? Take a positive approach in your interview(s) and tell the interviewer how current you are and the efforts you have taken to become proficient in the requirements of today's workforce.
2. Other questions that an interviewer will be thinking about, but not necessarily asking, will focus on your commitment to the job v. your young children's needs, and the potential that you will soon become pregnant again. Although not required to by law, you may want to consider addressing these issues in a brief and informal way. Mention your history of commitment before leaving to start you family. Note your sense of accomplishment that you have started your children on their way and how you have prepared for their daily care by using day schools, home care, etc. Then refocus the interviewer about your excitement, enthusiasm and commitment for continuing your career.
3. Practice your interviewing with friends in the workforce. Concentrate on the positive elements of your portfolio of skills, reliability and maturity. One of the biggest challenges facing many managers today is finding reliable help. Too often the skills are weak and the commitment is shallow. If you convince the interviewer of your sincerity, maturity and commitment, you'll have an important edge in the interview process.
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Disclaimer: The information in this column is intended to provide the reader with general ideas or concepts to be used as part of a broader base of knowledge they collect to determine their own best course of action and solutions most suitable for solving their workplace challenges. The information in this column is not guaranteed to be the appropriate solution for each individual. The information provided is based on personal observations and experiences of the writer that have been garnered over years as a business manager, owner and executive business coach and counselor.