If you have been out of work for several months, it can be intimidating to get back into the job hunt. Believe it or not, this happens to a lot of people.
But, there are techniques that you can use to make your job search easier and increase the chances of getting those paychecks rolling once again in your direction.
Here are four ways to approach your job search.
1. Use your network.
Reach out to your network and start asking questions about what the market is like and what companies that might be hiring. After all, this is exactly why you build and nurture a network of friends and coworkers.
Carefully pick and choose who you reach out to. Resist calling everybody in your Rolodex, especially those who you haven’t spoken with in a long time. Focus on people with whom you have a good rapport and, hopefully, you’ve spoken with in the not-to-distant past. This will increase your chances of getting a friendly response to your questions.
2. Create a functional resume.
Consider restructuring your resume by focusing on your experience and qualifications rather than your chronological work history. This is called a functional resume, and it can help to cover up obvious gaps in your working timeline.
Functional resumes usually include a high-level summary of your qualifications, a description of your specific skills, your educational background and, of course, your contact information.
On your functional resume, use nontraditional work experience to your advantage. “Nontraditional work experience could be anything including volunteer work, side projects, classes/class projects, caring for family members,” writes Ladders journalist Michael Lando. “The goal of including this information is to highlight what you did during your employment gap and to show that you were active throughout the gap”.
And, this resume restructuring can help to explain why a gap exists in your work history.
3. Education can boost your value.
Hiring managers pay special attention to the underlying motivation of their job candidates. And, voluntarily taking classes at a local community college or online learning resource tells the hiring manager that you are serious and focused.
Professional certifications can also help to increase your chances of getting hired.
4. Don’t look for high-paying opportunities, yet.
Resist focusing your job search on the top jobs that require a lot of experience. Your recent work history will be a big factor in these jobs.
You will work your way back up to that point. But after several months of unemployment, potential employers will probably pass on your resume if you are applying for a high-level position because the stakes are higher and expectations tend to be loftier.
Bonus: Consider a career change.
If you’ve always wanted to switch careers, this might be the perfect opportunity. Build a new resume that highlights your qualifications for your new career and re-focus your attention on job openings in the new career field. Consider a trade school if you do not yet have experience in your next career.
Also, rebuild your network so it focuses on your new line of work, but don’t completely forget about your current network. You never know when they will come in handy!
This article originally appeared on Ladders.