Re-entering the workforce requires a different strategy than the one you used when starting out or seeking work while already employed. Your reentry resume should downplay your absence, focusing instead on what distinguishes you from the competition and how you kept your skills up to date during your career break. Revamping your resume before embarking on a job search helps ensure it measures up to those submitted by candidates with continuous work experience.
Update Your Information
The resume you used five years ago might not reflect your strengths today. Remove references to outdated skills and knowledge, such as computer programs no longer used in your industry. Browse several postings for the kind of position you’re seeking, to determine the types of skills employers want and terminology they use. Even if you have the qualifications they want, if you don’t use the language they speak, they may not see what you have to offer. Also, add skills and knowledge gained since leaving the workforce.
Focus on Skills and Qualifications
The traditional chronological resume format highlights extended absences from the workforce. Instead of noticing your accomplishments, the first thing a prospective employer sees is how long it’s been since you held a full-time job. Draw attention to your qualifications immediately, by leading your resume with a qualifications summary and listing your work history in chronological order after this section. You don’t have to limit your summary to skills gained during your professional employment. If you volunteered, took classes or worked part-time during your unemployment, highlight accomplishments and other qualifications during this time.
Highlight All Work Experience
Some job seekers don’t include temporary or part-time jobs they held before returning to the workforce full time. They often think if the job is not directly related to the one they’re seeking, it will work against them. However, it shows employers that you didn’t stay idle while looking for a position in your field. In addition, if you omit a job, it could create an awkward situation if an employer discovers it and wonders why you didn’t mention it. If you don’t want to deflect attention away from more relevant experience, include these jobs in a section titled “Additional Work Experience” or “Unrelated Experience.”
Tell the Truth
Don’t lie on your resume, even if you’re embarrassed by your extended unemployment. If you say you held a job longer than you did, for example, the employer will likely discover this if he checks your references. Instead, list only the year instead of the month when noting start and end dates. This minimizes shorter gaps lasting only a few months. Many employers understand that job seekers often go several weeks or months between jobs. They also recognize that many people must take time off to raise children, care for family members or handle other obligations. As long as you present yourself professionally, they often won’t hold this against you.