Stay-at-home parents and others who stepped back from paid work for a time may find that getting a foot in the door, career-wise, requires a creative job-hunting approach. The concern is that you’re potentially competing against candidates who may be younger, have fewer responsibilities, and are more willing to take risks. So what are some ways that parents and anyone else returning to the workforce after an extended absence can get work experience to stay competitive?
Finding opportunities that offer work experience could be a matter of considering alternative career paths. Traditional routes, such as full-time jobs with little flexibility, may hold little appeal for you, particularly if family demands are a priority. So why not take a chance on something that may be a little bit outside your career comfort zone?
6 Ways to Get Work Experience After a Career Break
AKA an internship! Though internships are traditionally viewed as training opportunities for the college age set, internships are increasingly offered as opportunities for the most qualified—and motivated—candidates from all stages of life. So if you’re willing, why can’t that candidate be you? Many employers are embracing the idea of adults getting back to work as viable candidates for internship application pools.
Finding and cultivating a great mentor in a field you’re interested in is a great way to gain experience and bolster your resume. Target your networking efforts at someone who’s doing something you want to do in the future. Reach out to them and establish an ongoing relationship that can help you get to where you want to go.
3. Job Shadowing
This approach can be a different form of an internship. If you’ve found someone who’s successful in a career you’d like to try, work toward spending on-the-job time with that person, perhaps for a day or even for just a few hours, to see firsthand what their work entails. Job shadowing can be a great way to get a taste of real-world experience.
Here’s a truism: you may have to work for free for a while before you can find a position that pays you for doing what you love. Volunteering is a time-tested way to work your way toward a paying job. Becoming a reliable, top-notch volunteer allows you to shine by giving you a chance to show what you can do and prove your worth to an organization.
5. Temporary Work
Even if your ultimate goal is to find permanent work, temporary and seasonal jobs provide fantastic opportunities to make money and get job experience while you’re searching for a longer-term position. Short-term jobs can also be a way to test whether a particular job or career path suits your skills and job flexibility requirements.
6. Sell Your Transferable Skills
While you were at home, you developed and honed skills that can transfer to the workplace. It’s likely you used your communication, prioritization, and problem-solving skills every day, and employers value these soft skills. Make sure to highlight these skills on your resume to help employers focus on your skills and not your time away from paid work.
Take a Step In
No matter why you took a step back from paid work, stepping back in is an exciting and sometimes stressful time. But using one or more of these strategies to get work experience can help make your transition back to the workforce a smooth one.