Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Ease your transition back into the job market.

In my career coaching practice I work with many clients who have had significant time away from the conventional workforce. They work with me seeking assistance on re-entering the marketplace after a long hiatus. Sometimes they’ve been away as long as twenty years.

In most cases they’ve been out of the workforce for an extended period because they’ve been stay home parents. I’ve also had clients who took time off to care for sick relatives, extended sabbaticals to travel, or recovery from serious illness. Now, because their personal/life circumstances have changed, they find themselves seeking work in a new world of work. That task can be especially challenging in a tenuous job market, such as the one we’re living in now.

When I work with clients who are embarking on a job search after a long hiatus, one of the first things we delve into is skills identification. We make lists of what technical skills they have. We also spend time talking about their intangible qualities as well (communication/interpersonal skills). I ask questions like, what types of things are you good at? What subject matter do you know well? In what areas do you have unique expertise?

What we’re trying to accomplish is identifying what skills and experiences this person has that may be valuable to employers in today’s marketplace. Sometimes it’s easy to find connections. Often it’s difficult, especially if the individual has been out of the workforce for more than five years. In these cases, depending on what career field they seek to enter, additional training, education, and new exposure are necessary. It can be a long process.

With these realities in mind, it may be prudent to try and stay connected to the workforce during your hiatus. Clearly, if you’re taking a long sabbatical traveling around the world, this advice is not feasible. However, if you’re going to be taking time off of work, and living in or near a marketplace where you might eventually re-enter, staying connected to it as much as possible is a good idea.

What can you do to stay connected during your hiatus? You can try and work part-time in your field or one that is related. You can you take classes to stay updated on the latest software or technical pronouncements in your field. You can you get involved with professional associations that keep you connected. You can you do volunteer work that keeps your skills sharp, or teaches you new ones. You can incorporate professional networking into your lifestyle, wherever it may fit. And finally, as you get closer to potentially having to re-enter the workforce, you may want to consider working with a career coach to assist you with your transition.

Alchemy’s Career Development Services works heavily with individuals struggling with the challenges of career re-entry. For more information about our services, contact steve@alchemysearch.com. http://www.alchemysearch.com/.

--Steve Hernandez