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Tips for Returning to Work after a Long Time Out

No one said that finding a job is easy, especially today.  
But it is not the impossible dream either!  
If you have been searching for months with little success, read on to get some tips and strategies to re-new and re-invigorate your job search campaign and realize your dream!  

If you have been out of work for a while, whether by choice or not, getting back into the "Monday - Friday, 9-5, work-a-day world" is hard.  If you have been conscientiously searching for a new position  --  sending out resumes, filling out applications, doing some networking  --  with little or no success, it is easy to become discouraged, deflated, and defeated.  

However, I have worked with a number of clients who, like you, experienced long term unemployment and yet did find jobs . . . good jobs.  I met them, and then worked as their coach, after they had been out of work for 6, 9, 12 months or even longer.  Did they do things differently?  Absolutely.  Here’s what they did, and what you might choose to do, to get back into the "Monday - Friday, 9-5, work-a-day world." 

Tip 1: Change your habits. Chances are, as the months have gone by, you have developed some non-productive habits and behaviors - job search and otherwise -  and these are not leading you to discover leads to employment. Here’s why:

A pro-active search should generate networking meetings, leads, invitations to meetings and events, interviews, and ultimately offers.  That what we mean by success.  If your search is not generating the aforementioned results - something’s wrong.  And it is probably that you are spending your time on activities that generate the least productivity when it comes to finding a job.  Non-productive habits include:
(1)  Spending most of your job search time on-line filling out applications
(2)  Spending too few hours a day working on your search.  Finding a job is a job and you should spend at least as much time working at finding a job as you would on your job.
(3)  Contacting the same --  few  -- contacts and companies over and over and over again.
(4)  Setting limits on locations where you'll work.  
(5)  Not following up.
(6)  Not expanding your network.

As time goes by, these non-productive activities become habits.  It generally requires some outside assistance to identify these habits and behaviors since it is hard to see ourselves, especially when we’re not sure what we are looking for.  

Tip 2: Get a coach. It is the biggest key to re-generating your search into a positive and productive one.
(1)  A coach will quickly key into non-productive habits, ineffective marketing, negativity, destructive body language and other things a job seeker may be doing to sabotage their success.  If a private coach is off your budget, then seek assistance from:
(2)  your local state employment services who can give you some coaching, 
(3)  job seekers self-help groups who meet regularly to share experiences, lessons learned, and productive techniques and tips, 
(4) professional colleagues who have a sense of the employment market, and 
(5) self-help websites.

Tip 3: Show current experiences on the front page of your resume.  Build your resume while you search.  Engage in productive, profession-related resume-making activities during your search.  These activities can go on your resume, illustrating that. . . . .
(1) you are keeping current in your field,
(2) keeping skills honed, 
(3) gaining new useful knowledge, 
(4) developing new skills and knowledge, that will benefit your employer.  

Examples:  In addition to the obvious -- taking courses and classes  --   you can build your resume while you search:  Write a white paper, perform consulting services, do short-term contracting, volunteer using your skill set (an accountant becoming treasurer of an association, an HR rep staffing the volunteer talent bank, a landscaper landscaping the garden of a non-profit organization, etc.)  These go on the resume!

Tip 4:  START networking NOW!  Networking leads to leads that lead to interviews that lead to offers for jobs.  Networking uncovers jobs that exist but that are not initially openly advertised.  Networking, meaning engaging with people daily, is one of the most important things you can do to find a job. 

But, job seekers fight networking.  It’s a scary thing.  However, it helps to know that networking is only a skill – and skills can be learned.  Pick up a book, read through some on-line websites, take a class to learn what the skills are  --  and practice them. 

The biggest way to reduce fear of going to a networking event is to do some homework.  Preparation goes a long way in reducing your angst about networking:
(1) Know what you want to say about you.  Prepare, practice, and learn your “L”vator speech. 
(2) Know what you want to ask about them.  Learn about who will be there, and note an item you want to say or ask about when you meet these people at the event. 

To sum it up:  No one said that finding a job is easy, especially in today's tough employment market.  And, if you have been at it for a while, it may feel like the impossible dream.  But I am here to tell you it's not impossible at all.  I have worked with 100s of clients over the last few years who not only found jobs but good jobs.  But it did not happen by happenstance.  They planned, persisted, acquired knowledge, and developed skill in searching for their next job and found it.  And you can too!

For additional advice on smart and strategic job searching, please refer to my many articles in the AJC--Career Strategy website.  For individual coaching, feel free to contact us here at the AJC to schedule a consultation. 
For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
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