How to Explain Your Return to the Job Market
Job Interviewing Tips: Explaining Why You are Returning to the Job Market
By Carole Martin, Interview Coach
Some people’s lives begin to sound like a Soap Opera because there have been so many extenuating circumstances. Nobody’s perfect. But nobody wants to hear about your problems and baggage either. Especially in the job interview. The following is some advice to handle those tricky situations when interviewing that may be difficult to talk about let alone explain.
A. Returning to the Workforce After an Extended Absence.
1. Be able to explain why you have decided that now is the time for you to return to the work force – why now?
Have a prepared convincing statement about your goals or intentions of remaining in the work force after being away for a period of time – this is best done by scripting and practicing your answer so that you feel confident saying it in the interview.
2. Make sure that you are up-to-date on changes that have occurred in your field in your absence.
You might consider taking a brush up class or course. It is important that you be able to show that you can “hit the ground running,” particularly with so many candidates to choose from in this economy.
3. Do some research, using the internet to discover what is required in the type of position you are seeking.
Job postings are “wish lists” that employers put together in hopes of finding the perfect candidate. Use these postings to see what employers are seeking and make sure that your resume and your interview answers address the employer’s “wishes.”
4. Focus on your strengths – the skills that you have used in the past.
Think of five skills that you consider you do “best.” If your strengths are in sync with the employer’s wish list, emphasize your ability and past experiences using those skills to show that you have “been there and done that” and can do it again.
5. Send a follow up letter (or email) after the interview to remind the interviewer what you would bring to the position and to address any concerns that you may have picked up on during the interview.
B. Changing Careers, But You Have No or Little Experience at the New Career.
1. When you change careers the focus will be on the “softer” skills – referred to as “transferable” or “portable” skills.
These skills include communication skills, ability to work with a diversity of people, ability to plan and organize, time management, etc.
2. Each candidate is unique. What makes you unique?
Think about your personality and your personal traits. One of the things that the interviewer is looking for is “someone to fit in” – who is likeable – who will work well with the other team members.
Personal traits could be the tie breaker between two equally qualified people. Think of at least five personal traits that make you unique – friendly, flexible, quick learner, reliable, responsible, easy to get along with.
3. Believe in yourself. Show confidence in the interview that you can do the job.
Any sales person will tell you that when you believe in your product and its reliability it will is far easier to sell and influence someone to buy.
4. Prepare five to ten questions to ask about the company.
It is also important to listen to what is said as a way to formulate other questions. If a certain topic, for example, “databases,” has been brought up, be sure to ask questions about the database; the challenges and the problems with the database.
5. Prepare stories about your past experiences where you used similar skills that would be needed for the position you are interviewing for.
When you can show examples of past successes, you will have a better chance of showing the interviewer that you have used similar skills even if the job duties are different.
C. Moms Returning to Work After Time Off for Children.
1. It is very important to assess what you have to offer. Not just the skills required for the position, but the “added value” you can bring.
An example would be your ability to work with a diversity of people, or coordinate events without missing deadlines, or stay calm in the face of stress. These are all skills that most “mothers” can do without even breathing heavy.
Sometimes no matter how much you prepare for your job interview and how much you try you will receive a rejection – and not get the job.
When rejection comes, it may trigger old wounds from past life experiences. You may feel angry and fed up with the way you are being treated.
Instead of being stuck and feeling rejected, take back the power by staying proactive.
If you really wanted to work for that particular company, sit down and write a letter, stating how disappointed you were. Remind them of all the positive traits you could bring to the organization. Let them know that you are still interested in working for the company if something should change or open up.
Resilience is needed in today’s job market. This is no place for “sissies” – be prepared to keep trying. Never give up and be sure to be prepared for those interviews!
About the Author
The Interview Coach, Carole Martin, is a celebrated author, job coach, and speaker on the subject of interviewing and recruiting. Carole is using her proven methods for coaching job seekers on competitive interviewing skills in technical and non-technical industries. www.interviewcoach.com
Follow The Interview Coach on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn at http://www.interviewcoach.com/blog to learn about current workshops and seminars Carole is offering.