This is a question that is often asked, “How to get back into the job market after 5 years off?” This happens a lot with stay-at-home mothers, college students, and veterans. There are many obstacles that present themselves: gaps in employment, capability, and convincing the employer that you are motivated about working again. The thing is, people return back into the workforce all the time. I will not argue that the task isn’t difficult but it can be done! The obvious key is updating your resume, presenting transitional skills that are applicable to the industry of interest.
The first thing that comes to mind, when trying to hide gaps in employment, is to create a Functional Resume (wrong answer). Functional resumes are resumes that show your skills, knowledge and abilities with no dates. It’s the oldest trick in the book and recruiters know you are trying to hide something. There is nothing wrong with taking a few years off working to attempt a new venture, raise the children, finish school, or take a break from military service; so don’t hide. To add to the bad look, Functional Resumes don’t populate well within automated tracking systems that scan your resume before forwarded to an actual human being.
Instead of a Functional Resume, create a Chronological Resume annotating past work experience. Where you win are the “Summary” section, “Values Offered” section and “Other Information” section. The summary section is first, which is a short summary of your experience. For example, Project Management with Inventory Control and Administrative Experience. Next is the values offered. Include added value you may bring to any organization. For example, customer service, acquisition, security clearance, transportation management and so on. After you showcase the values you offer the organization, begin with your chronological work experience. Create a paragraph of your experience, followed by accomplishments –or- all bullet form. Don’t forget to include any volunteer -or- part-time work completed while between jobs. The other information section provides an opportunity to briefly explain why you haven’t been working the past 5 years. This section should include information you can’t quite fit into your resume. Summarize your experience and drop a 1-2 liner stating why you haven’t been working and how your intentions are to enter back into the workforce.
Overall the key is in the way you market yourself. It wouldn’t be fair to simply tell you creating a marketable resume is the answer to jumping directly into the job market after taking some time off. Like any other job seeker, creating a marketable resume is the first step; along with networking, keeping track of your job search, following up, reaching out to recruiters, asking friends/family if they can plug you in, and learning from rejections – know what is working and what is not working. For more help or resources, contact us.