Re-entering the Workforce After a Long Absence

Interested in Learning How to Reenter the Workforce?

Whether you’re a parent who’s taken time off to raise children, experiencing a layoff due to covid 19, or find yourself without recent professional industry experience and job due to personal reasons. You need to understand how to craft your resume for maximum impact and how to prepare for an interview.

The most important step before re-entering the workforce is to update your skills before you look for a new job. I would add to that, learn new skills for the new economy and reality.

You Can’t Always Rely on Past Experience when Re-entering the Workforce

If you’ve worked in the manufacturing sector, you know those great-paying positions are long gone. Many will not return. Rather than chasing the few that remain, look to a relatively stable industry such as healthcare for new opportunities. Search job postings to determine what education and certifications you may need. On your resume, list the ones you’ve obtained and those you’re seeking. With more and more employers using scanning software to screen out candidates, you’ll need to include industry keywords so you won’t be excluded from an opportunity.

Your Resume Should Maximize Strengths and Minimize Weaknesses

One of the weaknesses, understandably, will be the amount of time out of work. Countless Internet articles state how employers worry about how the long-term unemployed can adequately fill a new position. Skills get rusty. Knowledge becomes dated. You already know to sharpen your skills and knowledge before you apply. However, how you present this data to an employer is critical.

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Functional versus Reverse-Chronological Resumes for Reentering the Workforce?

You may read well-meaning advice about using a functional format. That is a resume style in which you list your skills first without ever stating where you gained or used them. This section is followed by your Professional Experience. Here, you would list only your former employers’ names, locations, and various job titles you’ve held. Absolutely no other information is given.

Avoid functional formats at all costs. Here’s why:

  • You’re forcing the hiring manager to guess where you gained/used your skills and knowledge. Most won’t bother. They’ll move on to the next candidate who gives them a clear picture as to what was achieved at each position.
  • Hiring managers know job hoppers and the long-term unemployed use functional formats to hide gaps in work history. You’re not fooling anyone with this design.

“But wait,” you might say. “A regular resume style will show I’ve been unemployed for some time. It’s the first thing an employer will see.”

Not if you opt for another type of format.

Use a Combination Style Resume to Re-Enter the Workforce

A combination format is one that uses the best of the functional and the reverse-chronological style resume. After your opening summary, you’d include your education (if you’ve acquired recent certifications or a degree in a new specialty), followed by a skills section. However, rather than simply listing your skills, you’d also include the company where you learned and used them. This gives the hiring manager a more complete picture of how recent your knowledge is and what you actually did with what you know. It’s one thing to say that you reconciled bank accounts without mentioning whether you did that a year ago or fifteen years in the past. It’s quite another to say you caught a $1500 accounting error and resolved it – in your company’s favor – with the company name clearly listed. Information like that not only shows you have the skill but you used it to your former employer’s benefit.

Following the skills section, you would then list your work history, with bullets of your tasks and results of them beneath each employer. Yes, you will still have the employment gap, but it will be softened considerably by the new resume format and the achievements you’ve showcased to re-enter the workforce.

Returning to the workforce is rarely easy. However, you can reduce the time spent in searching for a job by updating your skills, acquiring new ones, and using the correct resume format.