The Return to the Workforce – Jennifer Lenkowsky

1.27_back_to_workOnce you’ve put your professional days behind you, how do you get them back?

Whether you’ve been out of the workforce for two years or 20, re-entering can be a job in and of itself. We spoke to Jennifer Lenkowsky, director of administrative services at global recruiting firm, Russell Tobin & Associates, to get her top tips for planning a (triumphant!) return.

Make yourself relevant
Get a Facebook page, make a LinkedIn profile, create a Twitter account. Nobody needs to know that you just signed up for LinkedIn, or that you googled “What is Snapchat?” the night before your interview. Know what’s happening in the world. You should know who Kim Kardashian is. Are you a lawyer? Find out if people are still using LexisNexis. Are you an accountant? Don’t talk about the Big Six—we’re down to the Big Four. Do your homework. Take a web design class. Now you’re a million times more marketable than you were the day before.

You must have a resume
I cannot tell you how many people tell me they don’t have a resume. If you are asked to submit a resume, the answer is never, “I don’t have one.” It’s, “No problem. Can I get it to you by Friday?” Have a resume that shows the last 10 years of your life. If you’ve been home the last 10 years, have a resume for the 10 years before that.

Use your resources
Talk to everyone you know—tell them that you’re looking for work. When my best friend went back to work, I called a client and said, “This is my best friend. I promise you, she’ll be amazing.” She got the job and she was amazing. Use your contacts. Post to social media. Say, “I’m going back to work and would love to do XYZ. Anyone looking to hire?”

Don’t put anything beneath you
We all started somewhere. Unfortunately, when you make a life change that takes you out of the mix for many years, you may need to start back at the bottom. Be flexible. Do what it takes. Be willing to work for free or work with a temp agency to start getting experience and building a new network.

Honesty is the best policy
People want transparency. Did you spend the last 5-7 years at home with your kids? Put it on your resume. There is nothing wrong with taking time off to be with your children. That’s a stigma that needs to be washed away. As we move into this next world, with Gen-Y and millennials, it’s no longer about burning the midnight oil. It’s about working smarter as opposed to working harder.

Make your skills transferable
Decide what you want to do and then extract everything in your life that illustrates those skills. Maybe you’ve been home raising your children and you’ve planned three amazing bar mitzvahs. Put that on your resume. Perhaps you took a few years off, got married and moved all over the world to accommodate your husband’s job. You’re probably incredibly organized. You can plan an itinerary like a pro. You can set up a house in a day. Need a visa? You know exactly who to talk to and can get one in three days, flat. Make yourself marketable. Be two steps ahead. Know what your potential employer is looking for and tailor your experience accordingly.

Are you planning to leave? Stay in touch
Email and the internet makes it so easy to stay connected to your network. Check in with old bosses and colleagues and arrange to meet up every few months—even if it’s just for drinks. These are the people who will keep you relevant. maintain your individuality. Scroll through job listings every so often. See what kind of salary a marketing executive makes these days. Maybe you’ll talk to a friend who will need freelance help with a project. You never know when an opportunity will present itself. Be open. Stay in the periphery.

Stay tuned for more tips from Jennifer on finding a job, creating a compelling resume and impressing the hiring team.

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