For many divorced women, the idea of returning to the workforce can present a challenging prospect.
It is likely that you will be competing for positions with people in a situation much different than your own. They may be younger, they may be recent graduates, they may be more familiar with networking and the interview process. They may have chosen this path while you feeling like you don’t have any other options.
Whether you are divorced, recently divorced, receiving spousal support or child support, or getting nothing at all, your situation is unique. It is likely that you already feel excess stress and pressure and now you have to apply and interview for jobs as well!
Feeling overwhelmed would be natural for anyone.
Depending on how long you have been out of the workforce, things may look very different than they did when you left leaving you unsure of where to even start.
How do you even land a job after a gap in your employment history?
Fortunately, at Untie the Knot, we understand the struggle and have put together this list of tips to help you confidently return to the workforce!
While being away from the workforce for a while can present some problems, you are, essentially, a blank slate and can decide which direction you would like to go.
If, for example, you performed shift work before you left the workforce, ask yourself, did you enjoy that? Or, does your home life warrant a more traditional 9-5 position? Will you work from home or find something in an office or a shop?
It may take some training (both personally and professionally) but try to view this as a starting point for a new career. A career path you get to choose for yourself.
If it helps, make a dream job board. List your ideal job, the hours you’d like to work, the salary you need, and any particular elements you are aspiring to. Think about the jobs you have always wanted or the jobs you’ve looked at and thought “that would be a great job.” It is possible that you may not be qualified for these jobs but it will force you to think about your needs and desires and reacquaint you with a part of yourself you may have ignored for some time.
If exploring the job market is a necessity in order to keep the lights on, as they say, your dream job may have to wait until you’ve built up a little bit of financial security but think about your future and what will make you most happy is never a bad idea.
Your resume will probably have some gaps in the years of your employment history and that may trigger alarm bells for employers. Instead of avoiding this information, truthfully explain your absence to potential employers through your cover letter.
When you are creating your resume, you will have the opportunity to highlight any volunteer or unpaid work you have done during those gaps, and supply great references that can attest to your accomplishments, experience, and competence.
Use your cover letter to highlight any upgrades or licenses and certifications that you may currently hold.
If necessary, upgrade any certificates or licenses, and if financially possible, consider going back to school to improve your qualifications.
Create or update a LinkedIn profile to connect with people you may know and those in your desired industry. Your potential employer may be interested to see your skills and to see that you are up to date with technology trends.
Once you have secured an interview, it is important to show your commitment to returning to work. If you are hoping for full-time work, indicate that you are available to work the hours required and that you have secured childcare if applicable.
The importance of explaining your commitment may sound like you are divulging private information, but remember, the potential employers are looking to fulfill a position that will probably require training and resources and is expecting the person who gets hired to be able to meet the rigors of the job.
As stated in the second step, joining LinkedIn is a great step toward becoming employed.
It is also a great idea to build a network outside of the online community. Ask friends, family, and social relationships (like Church or Book Groups) about any possible positions that may be opening up with their employer or if they have any friends that may have a lead.
Having a connection to hiring managers through one of your network members can help your resume stand out and advance your efforts.
Look around your community for networking opportunities and groups that meet on a regular basis. Some networking groups are for women only and feature women from all over the community. If you can join, or currently belong to, a professional association, start there and see what you can find.
Prepare yourself for interviews in front of a panel, or in front of the hiring manager. Use the video function on your phone to record yourself in a mock interview so you can observe any changes you may need to make in your approach or body language.
If you typically get nervous in an interview, do some research about questions that are generally asked in interviews within your specific industry. Complete a pre-interview checklist so that you can go into your interview completely prepared for any type of questions that may be presented to you
Practice your interview responses with friends or family and seek honest and constructive feedback.
Re-entering the workforce can be extremely stressful, so it is important to allow yourself to feel fear but do it anyway.
The industry you are applying for post-divorce may have changed since the last time you were actively employed. You may have kids now, a mortgage, and house-related obligations.
Your job search may take longer than you anticipated, so be kind to yourself if jobs are not falling into your lap. You may have to have patience, but you will land a job.
Making the decision to go back to work, whether by choice or by circumstance, can be a difficult task. If you compound this by going through a lengthy divorce process, you can make an already painful situation even more so.
Turn to Untie the Knot to find supportive resources to help you divorce with confidence without a lawyer. Thinking about your exciting future, and a look forward to the next step in your professional experiences.