Whether you’re a parent hoping to devote more time to your children or a burned-out employee needing a break, you’ve probably dreamed of taking an extended period of time off from your job. But what gives many of us pause is this: How will we successfully reenter the workforce after a long break?
Fox Business Network anchor Cheryl Casone’s new book, “The Comeback: How Today’s Mom’s Can Reenter the Workplace Successfully,” tackles this topic, and while it’s targeted to moms, it has tons of great advice that pretty much anyone pondering a career comeback can follow. (21st Century Fox and News Corp, owner of The Wall Street Journal, were until mid-2013 part of the same company.)
Marketwatch talked to Casone to get her career comeback secrets:
MarketWatch: What is the biggest mistake people make when trying to make a career comeback?
Casone: Almost all the women I interviewed felt insecurity and guilt — those were their two mistakes. These are emotions that hold us back from our best self. Moms feel insecure because they think they have nothing to offer, and the opposite is true. Moms have organizational skills, patience, they are multi-taskers, motivated and they get the job done. Those are skills that are valuable to corporations, and companies are starting to see that.
The other issue is guilt. Moms felt guilty about going to work, that their child would suffer, that they would miss things, that if an emergency happened or there was trouble at school they wouldn’t be around. But the research shows that children of working moms — especially girls — are more successful, they make more money, they become managers. It’s about setting an example for your kids, setting an example for what they can be and achieve.
MarketWatch: People who have been out of the workforce for a while often feel they’re disconnected from those who work in the industry. How do you get back up to speed?
Casone: The best way to start is on social media: Twitter
, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn
Reach out and reconnect with people you’ve known. Then, start liking and commenting on things they share and post. That puts you back in their mind.
MarketWatch: You talk about going beyond LinkedIn and formal networking events to meet people who can help you land a new job. What are some surprising places that you can network?
Casone: Once you figure out the job you want, start having a lot of conversations about it. Work it into everyday conversations at places like the playground, the doctor’s office, in moms group, at dinner with other parents, at the kids’ bake sale. Put it out there that you would like to do graphic design or marketing or real estate. You never know who is going to know someone. Most people get jobs from networking not from sending in a résumé. One woman I interviewed was talking to another mom on the soccer field and it turned out that the other mom’s husband was a VP of a company and ended up hiring her.
MarketWatch: How do you strategically time a career comeback?
Casone: You’ve got to have all your ducks in a row and be prepared before your comeback. You need to know what you want to do before you start the job hunt; you don’t just want to put together a generic résumé and go from there. You should be prepared for how to deal with childcare and commuting and how you’ll navigate the work day.
MarketWatch: What types of companies are more likely to hire a person who’s paused their career for a while?
Casone: Three sectors are doing this and there should be more: Law firms, technology companies and banks. I recently saw a study that diversity in the workplace — moms, minorities, older workers — was better for the bottom line. It’s better for the company if they have a better culture; this builds a culture that makes people more productive. Companies are starting to see this.
MarketWatch: What are the biggest résumé and LinkedIn mistakes you see people trying to make a career comeback make?
Casone: Don’t be cute. Don’t put things like “CEO of my family” or a cutesy title. On LinkedIn, don’t put a photo of you and the kids or something like that. The picture should be a professional one of just you.
MarketWatch: Should you explain the career gap on your résumé or LinkedIn profile?
b Highlight the other things you were doing during that gap. If you were volunteering, put it down and spin it. If you were part of a 10-person team that organized a budget, that could be 10 people who put together a bake sale. You have to really dig deep and find every example.