Re-Entering the Workforce? You’re Not Alone

Two business men meeting

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” This quote, often misattributed to John Lennon, resonates especially with employees who have been forced to exit the workforce. Life can be messy, and taking an extended absence from work is just one of the ways life sometimes “happens.”

If you’ve been out of work for a while, for whatever reason, and are now considering re-entering the workforce, the road ahead can seem daunting. The good news is you’re not alone. Many others have taken this same journey.

We spoke with Aerotek contractors who’ve successfully gotten back to work after some time away. They had valuable insights for anybody looking to get back into the swing of things.

Believe you can do it

When her son’s family grew by a factor of two thanks to twin babies, Aerotek contractor Katrina Green resigned from her position at the local Department of Social Services to help look after them. Years later, she was ready to get back to work.

What helped her the most? She had a key ally — her Aerotek recruiter John Crosby — who encouraged her and kept her spirits up.

Green recalls, “He was just constantly reassuring me, ‘Katrina, you know what? You’ve got the skill set. You’ve got the personality. You’re going to do great.’”

She says this put her in the right mindset to grow into her current position as an administrative assistant. She says, “They’ll tell you what to do and then you continue to incorporate that and, before you know it, you have your own niche.”

Aerotek Contractor Lynne Ansara agrees. She was on track to retire before life intervened. She says, “The advice I would give somebody coming back into the workforce after a significant break is just do it. Trust in yourself. Be honest.”

Be ready to answer the “big question”

Hiring managers will ask about time away from work. Aerotek Contractor Wayne Slater took time off to care for a severely ill infant daughter. When he was ready to come back, he says, “I went through job interview, job interview, job interview and the first thing that came up was, ‘Why were you out of work?’”

Of chief importance is framing your experiences in a way that shows how they make you a better employee than most.

Remember that your time away, whether due to family hardships like the one Slater faced or not, makes you a more loyal, grateful, and motivated employee than most candidates, and that attitude can have a positive impact on your coworkers.

For more help answering the Big Question, check out our article, 5 Tips to Explain an Employment Gap in Your Job Search.

Catch up on your skills

We all know the pace of technology can be dizzying. While looking to re-enter the workforce, take the time to catch up on any recent updates in software that occurred between your last position and now. It can be difficult at first, but there are resources out there — many of them free — that can help you get up to speed.

A big part of the battle is maintaining a can-do mindset. As Katrina Green tells it, “Technology changes all the time, so you’re always thinking, ‘Okay, how can I become more marketable? Am I going to jump back into this position as an administrative assistant as effectively as I left? Or do I need extra training to enable me to be successful in my position?’”

Lynne Ansara suggests giving yourself time. When asked about her journey, she said, “I needed some additional help with the technology. I’ve taken classes and I have the ability to get efficient in any program I’m given, but it takes a while to learn.”

Find an ally

The process of getting back to work can seem intimidating if you think about the whole journey at once. But you don’t have to go it alone. Find somebody who can help you break that process down into manageable tasks, keep you motivated and pitch in with some of the legwork. Contract employment can be a great way to start.

As Katrina Green remembers, “I was just trying to do it all on my own, and I was very unsuccessful, because a lot of jobs now are actually contracted through agencies.”

There’s nothing wrong with getting help. Wayne Slater says, “I’m really indebted to Aerotek because they gave me a chance. They found a perfect job for me, and now me and my wife are moving ahead in life.”

Could you use a little help along your journey?

Talk with an Aerotek recruiter to see how they can work with you. And if you’re looking for a job, visit our job board to find your next great opportunity. Create a free career account today to customize your search.