Are you looking to re-enter the job market after a long absence? Do you want to work in the same field and function, or in a new industry and different position? Learn what you need to get started so you can get that job you want.
Returning candidates, especially those in the category Mature Age Job Hunter, have some unique challenges, not the least of which is the potential gap in their employment history. Here is some important info to help you manage your challenges.
Your First Hurdle is Automated Screening Software
The first step in today’s candidate pre-selection is often getting past automated gatekeepers. Most modern business operators and search firms use automated processes to screen resume submissions. These systems (called applicant tracking systems, or ATS) don’t accommodate for (and can’t appreciate) exceptions to standardised selection criteria so that re-entry prospects may be eliminated before any human actually evaluates your application. With many well-qualified job seekers available who are closer matches to the ideal set of requirements, re-entry candidates will rarely be short-listed. Solution: Get an ATS proof resume and cover letter.
No such thing as “ideal resumes” if you are re-entering the job market
Even if you make it past the software, many re-entry job hunters often don’t fit the perfect candidate descriptions requested by employers. Rarely are re-entry candidates noticed by hiring professionals to fill openings for exacting corporate clients. This means that re-entry job hunters have to be proactive and aggressively go after a new challenge; they can’t wait to be recruited. Solution: Invest in a JobSearchCoach or Career Advisor and get fit to re-enter the job market with the help of a professional mentor.
Obvious gaps in your employment history
Nothing beats networking for a job search, since an endorsement from the right connections is most likely to facilitate a swift, successful landing. To complicate the situation further for job seekers re-entering the workforce after a break, historically reliable contacts who could be counted on for tempting job leads no longer produce referrals. Existing contacts may have also been downsized or chosen to exit the job market, leaving their networks up the creek without a paddle.
In the face of these obstacles, how can re-entry professionals jump-start a productive job hunting campaign? Here is how.
Seek out decision makers at target companies
Determine how to eliminate the employer’s concerns about hire-ability
And, last but not least, communicate your message (pitch) effectively
Success, measured as getting job interviews and eventually a desirable offer, is fostered by getting a decision maker’s attention and maintaining enough interest to position you as the employer’s first choice solution.
Here’s my 5 step strategy for re-entry professionals to overcome obstacles to employment and accelerate their job search.
- Connect with ‘insiders’ affiliated with target employers — such as current or former employees, consultants, suppliers and advisers — who are among the first to learn about unadvertised positions.
- Put skin in the game. Show confidence in your anticipated ability to produce results by suggesting rewards based on performance.
- Give two before you ask one back. Don’t just chat with contacts. Network purposefully. Keep in touch. Find ways to give and not just take information.
- Avoid gatekeepers. Communicate directly with hiring decision-makers. Consider calling just outside typical business hours (to avoid the receptionist). Use snail mail creatively to attract attention. Send emails periodically and confirm receipt of emails. Messages should be courteous, enticing and repeated periodically.
- Follow up. Out of touch equals off the decision maker’s crowded radar screen. Be polite and respectful, but persevere. The best candidate may be overlooked or forgotten if they are not persistent.
Tackle your new challenge head on and if you need help seek out a professional mentor for guidance and feedback. Get started and whenever and wherever you search, remember to hunt wisely!
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