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Tailor your resume when returning to work after a long break, and give yourself a great shot at that job you want.
By Melanie Lobo
The thought of returning to work after a career break, whether for childcare or other reasons can be quite daunting. Many women feel hesitant and uncertain about facing the challenges of an office job again. However, if you have decided to get back to work, think positively and go all out to get that job you want.
Let your resume reflect your career break skills.
The key to making sure you are the correct applicant for the job is to match your skills with the skills the job requires. These skills do not necessarily have to be developed in a business environment. So even if you have not been working, you have still been learning and developing new skills. Multitasking, communication, organization, time management and negotiation are skills that you have probably worked at day in and day out while away from the office – particularly, if you have taken time off to bring up a child! These are important additions to your resume.
Think of the activities you have been involved with while away. Perhaps it was volunteer work, helping out at a day care centre, or organising events at your child’s school. Concentrate on the skills you used in these activities. For e.g. they could be: Event management, meeting deadlines, team working, fund raising, working without supervision, presenting etc. Ensure that you mention these skills along with concrete examples of how you managed.
Staying updated helps your return to work.
Mention any courses you have done or part time work you undertook during your career break. This will reflect your commitment as well as ability to multitask.
It would be good to do some research before you actually send out your resume and think of a return to work. Find out if there have been any changes in the field you were in. Do you need to further update your skills? Doing a diploma/refresher course before you start job hunting would be a good idea as this would strengthen your resume and show you in a positive light. Use this as a platform to get back to work.
Be upfront, not defensive.
Do not be defensive when you are explaining a career break. Most women feel that a career break, especially for maternity could be viewed as putting family over a career. Shuchita Singh Basu, an HR professional with a well known company states that the very fact a woman is returning to work shows that she is career driven (although employers may still ask if she has support arrangements in place for her family.)
Writing a resume that gets you noticed.
Start your resume with a Career Profile. This should include your work experience, education, skill set and strengths. Mention the role you worked in before you took your break. After this, mention your work (employment) history in reverse chronological order. For returning mothers, this could read as:
Home Manager/Full Time Mum: May 2006-June 2009.
Skills Acquired: Organizational, Communication and the ability to multitask
Make sure to mention any home-based or part time work you have been doing. You could also mention informal assignments that you have worked on. For instance, if you have helped a friend set up her own boutique or contributed actively to fund-raising for a local charity, mention the organizational skills you brought to the assignment. This also reassures employers that your skills are not rusty.
Contact a recruitment agency who will help you to tailor your CV. There are several companies online who will do this for you. To get noticed, ensure that your resume is customized to each organization (or industry) that you are applying to.
Use your network to help you return to work
Network – get in touch with friends or other women who have returned to office before you. Find out what worked for them. Smriti Lamech, a journalist and mother of two who returned to work after a short break states that she never had a problem. She freelanced while away and kept in touch with contacts which made the transition even easier. Brain storm with friends about what you have been doing and see how you can make these sound relevant and professional to a prospective employer.
Do not sell yourself short. Remember that you are an asset and that there are plenty of opportunities for you if you structure your resume well. Good luck!
Melanie Lobo is a freelance writer. She grew up in cities across India but now
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