Not been working during the pandemic? How to get ready to return.

Woman job searchIf you’ve not been working during the pandemic, getting a job may seem a daunting task. It’s been a long time, and an emotionally draining one. The good news? Word on the street is that not many people are applying for jobs at the moment, so it’s a great time for YOU to do so. Here are our top six tips on how to prepare yourself for your job search.

1. WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM WORK?

Now is a great opportunity to rethink your work ‘values’ and what you want from a new job. Do you want to return to what you did before, or start again with something new? Are you willing to retrain? What working pattern do you ideally want, and what might you compromise on? Read further tips and ideas in our articles on How to get clear on your career direction and Choosing between part-time and full time work.

2. DO A SKILLS AUDIT

Before you start on your CV, do a brainstorm on all your skills. This should include the skills from your most recent job, but also those from earlier jobs that you could utilise again. Additionally, think about the skills and experience that you’ve gained while you’ve been away from work. You might have developed skills through a hobby, done an online course, done voluntary or community work, or had to deal with various organisations whilst caring for children or sick relatives. All these things build up valuable task skills or interpersonal skills – never be afraid to ‘sell’ them in your CV whenever relevant.      

3. CONSIDER WAYS TO REFRESH AND ADD TO YOUR SKILLS

If you have time on your side, and especially if you want to try a new career direction, it’s a good idea to get some work experience to refresh your skills. It’s also beneficial to have some recent work examples to put on your CV. So have a think about what skills you might need to support your career plans, and then consider how to develop them. You could try…

  • Volunteering: As well as helping you to acquire skills, volunteering work can be a highly rewarding and fulfilling experience that gives your energy and confidence levels a boost. Have a look at the opportunities on organisations such as Do-it. And for senior level volunteer opportunities, try Trustees Unlimited.
  • Seek some work experience:  Approach local organisations which match your areas of interest, and ask if you can work for them for a few weeks or months, on a voluntary or work experience basis. Or approach local temping agencies and see if there are suitable short-term posts that will ease you back into the world of work. There’s always the possibility that a short-term placement will develop into a permanent job opportunity.

4. BE NOISY ABOUT YOUR JOB SEARCH

Make sure your family, friends and ex-work colleagues know that you’re looking to get back to work. People love to be asked for help, so don’t be afraid to see if they’ll keep an eye out for possible job opportunities for you. And if they can connect you with people who work in the right places, just for an informal chat, you never know where it could lead.  

5. FIND A WAY TO DEAL WITH THE GAP IN YOUR CV

When you’re ready to write your CV, take care how you deal with your ‘career break’. It might work better for you to start with an overview of your skills and experience, rather than with your work history. Take a look at our template to a skills-led CV

And when you get to your career timeline, put the emphasis on what you did whilst not working, rather than the reason for taking a break. For example “During a career break to raise my children, I was active in my local community, running and marketing a number of fundraising events”.
 

6. GET INTO A ROUTINE

Finally, when you’re ready to start job-hunting, treat it like a job. Make an early start, find a quiet place where you can work on your applications without getting distracted, eat well and take regular breaks to keep your energy levels up.

Set yourself targets for places to search, job alerts to set up, deadlines for sending off applications. But don’t let yourself get overwhelmed - take a look at our article on the value of a targeted over a scattergun approach

Good luck!

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