I coach to see people light up when they land a great job that once seemed out of reach. One such case? The mom who returned to the corporate career that she left for 10 years to run her household.
During her corporate hiatus, she raised a son, and advocated to get her mother health insurance that would cover the best treatments for her battle with cancer. This mother's son grew up and her mother passed away, so she decided to get back into her career. But she had been a Director in fields where even disconnecting for the weekend or a vacation is frowned upon.
Who would hire her after a 10-year career break? She felt her options were limited. Plus, she wanted to find a role that was more fulfilling than her prior ones and sparked her passion, as well as a job with good hours that was close to home, so she could be highly involved in her son's and husband's lives. On top of it all, she had been out of touch with her professional network.
Being a self-starter, this mom took many important job search steps on her own. She found a local career center where she attended group classes, and received input on her search from coaches and fellow job seekers. Then, she joined my "7 steps to turbo charge your job search" boot camp.
Here's how I helped her tackle her biggest challenges and advocated for her dream career, and how anyone can help women in their lives make returning to work a more smooth process.
Approximately three percent of your market is buying at any given time, the rest is not. That means, on average, you need to connect with 34 organizations to get one interview. The shortest path to getting hired is therefore to focus your outreach on a very specific role and type of organization. Making a list of even 5 companies that met this mom's job search criteria was tough.
She searched for all kinds of jobs online until she found a type of role that she could enjoy. Then, she narrowed her search to focus on open positions for that specific role in companies close to home. She also used a leisure visit to a trade show as an opportunity to talk to businesses about how she could add value to their organization, thus exploring additional career options.
I helped her build a target company list by helping her prioritize her asks and coaching her through identifying her strengths and weaknesses. Plus, I kept challenging her on a mental block she faced: the idea that there were no local jobs that would interest her as much as her previous role.
The secret to overcoming a career hiatus is proving to hiring managers that you can address their specific pain points by using their language. The key here is to speak to a specific role in a specific industry in your LinkedIn profile, resume, cover letter and elevator pitch, while outlining outcomes you can deliver, and how you can benefit that type of employer.
She updated her resume to include strategic language about caring for her mom as a health advocacy project that involved insurance negotiation. This mom also proved her ability to add value by analyzing prospective employers' strategies, and making recommendations related to her field in her cover letters.
After honing career mapping and resume development skills from spending close to 20 years in marketing, I helped this working mom streamline her resume and cover letter, and position her experiences to speak to the needs of her target role.
Job seekers generally feel fake when reaching out to people they have not talked to in years. My advice to get over that is to reframe networking as an opportunity to serve others and learn. Many people from your past will be happy to reconnect with you no matter what. If you want to be genuinely of service, ask them about specific information they have shared in social media and about their needs in that area. Tell them you are learning a lot and talking to many people due to your search, and that you will keep their goals in mind.
This mom used every opportunity to get at least 500 contacts on LinkedIn. She connected with peers from job search classes, fellow MBA alumni, neighbors, and parents she engaged with during her child's extracurricular activities.
I taught her how to use LinkedIn to avoid the black hole of the online job application, empowering her to identify hiring managers and reach out to them through common connections to secure interviews.
With a little bit of help, this mom landed her ideal job. The small number of target companies that met her search criteria caused this mom to initially struggle through the 7-step process I include in my coaching, but she eventually found 2-3 relevant open positions in her area. And three months later, she had landed her ideal job. Hooray!
Providing useful, targeted help to your former colleagues, mentees, or women in your network — and advocating for any women returning to the workplace — helps you to do your part in ensuring workplace gender equality. How have you advocated for women returning to work?
Sandra Diaz helps bicultural professionals land great marketing jobs. Students in her job search boot camp (www.sparkcareercatalysts.com) get more interviews and ideal job offers in 90 days. Sandra’s coaching approach draws from her experience as a marketing executive at L’Oréal, Sears, Sara Lee and Colgate Palmolive, and as an independent consultant. She is an avid learner and connector, frequently in the loop about new job openings.