Life is full of transitions, and one of them is career change that inevitably involves starting a new job. Many women, for example, take time out of paid employment to have a family, care for relatives, learn new skills, or reassess their futures. When the time comes to re-enter the work force, they need to be ready and ensure that they optimise their potential. So, too, do people changing jobs. Here’s how to get yourself ready to thrive from this challenging experience…
Becoming as good as you know you are demands a positive self-image. You need to value yourself and your contributions if you expect others to do so. You can’t not have a self-image. It is evident in the way you present yourself in everything you do – and it is best accompanied by self-confidence and a positive mental attitude. The bookshops contain self-help literature, tapes, and CDs.
2. Conduct your own SWOT analysis.
Know yourself. SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats – is a process of looking inwardly and outwardly. Using this process, you can consider your main strengths (what you can offer an employer) and your weaknesses (those qualities or defects that may require additional attention). You also examine the opportunities that exist in your area of expertise or in the marketplace; and you explore threats that may prevent you from achieving your goals.
Be positive and honest about your assessment so that you have a clear picture of your current situation and what actions are required. Don’t sell yourself short. If you’re returning from home duties, for example, remember that managing a home and a family requires skill in controlling time, projects, and finances – skills that are valuable in any workplace.
3. Develop an action plan.
Your personal SWOT analysis will have helped you identify what needs to be done. List specific actions you need to take and the completion time for each. Successful accomplishment of each action will require specific steps.
If one of those steps involves training, do it! In this way, each day in every way, you will progress closer to your goals. Goal achievement, you will find, will be a constant contributor to your positive self-image and success.
4. Make a list of contacts.
Networking is one of the essential practices for most people in business. Your networking should involve two actions. First, list the people you know who may be able to help you in your quest for, or in starting, a new job. Contact those people. Second, start attending meetings of groups whose members have similar or complementary interests to your own.
5. Understand the lay of the land.
An essential part of your preparation is building your awareness of the marketplace you will be rejoining. Networks will provide some information. So, too, will the daily business papers, selected current affairs programs, and the Internet. By becoming more conversant with the market you hope to join, you will feel more confident and able to engage in discussions on current issues during interviews and other conversations.
6. Construct a résumé – and keep it current.
Even if you have found employment, you should keep your résumé up to date at all times. Keeping a copy on your computer will simplify this task. Your résumé is your sales document. Often, the quality of that document will gain you an interview. Ensure that it is written with the reader in mind. Your prospective employer will not want to wade through pages and pages of irrelevant material in the hope of ‘discovering’ the real you.
7. Begin the search.
What you focus on grows. If finding the job you want or re-entering the work force is your principal goal and you devote attention to it, in time an opportunity will present itself. You will find that the search drives your networking, motivates visits to your local job agencies, encourages you to check out the local newspapers, and so on. Once you’ve made a commitment to action, you’ve overcome the greatest hurdle.
Spend time in front of the mirror, seeing what others see. Practise entering an interview room. Enlist the support of trusted others to provide honest and open feedback on your presentation. A dry run of a job interview will help you to be calm, relaxed, and in control when the real event happens. Remember that one of the key qualities you are selling to your prospective employer is confidence. You need to make the interviewer feel confident that you are just what he or she is looking for.
9. Know what you need to know.
Whatever your situation, there will be questions you will need to ask any interviewer. A woman with family responsibilities, for example, may need to know about flexible leave arrangements, equal employment opportunities, childcare facilities, and policy on working from home. Clarify all issues that are important to you.