Kath Sloggett, founder of Runneth London , is our guest blogger this month. Kath is a career coach and she regularly helps people return to work after a career break. In this article, Kath shares her expert tips on how to stay up-to-date during your career break.
Relocating to a new country is just one of many reasons for taking a career break. I regularly work with people who have taken time away from work because they are raising their family, studying, developing a passion, or starting a business – and sometimes several of these things at the same time!
Regardless of your reason for taking a career break, or how long you intend to be off, you can make your career re-entry easier by investing a little time and effort while on your career break.
The Benefits of Staying Up-to-Date
Here are three key reasons why it pays to stay current:
1.Your next job is statistically most likely to be found through your extended network. The research suggests that round 85% of jobs are never advertised. Instead, they are filled through informal networks.
2.Both employers and professional recruiters look at the social media accounts (including LinkedIn) of candidates. While you might feel that this is not appropriate, they are usually just trying to understand the context of your career.
3.You are likely to need recommendations from your network, and to sound knowledgeable and current about your previous career, in order to secure a future job offer (even if you change careers).
How to Stay Up-to-Date
It is much better to do a little bit occasionally to stay up-to-date – even if that only means spending an hour on it a few times per year – than doing it all in one big rush when you decide to return to work.
These quick tasks can be completed online, from anywhere in the world.
- LinkedIn profile: Your LinkedIn profile is one of the first things people see when they search for your name in Google.
- If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, now is a good time to create one. At a minimum, add a recent photograph of yourself, your location, and a relevant headline (the text that appears directly under your name).
- If you already have a LinkedIn profile, ensure it is complete and up-to-date.
- Grow your LinkedIn network: On LinkedIn, accept any outstanding invitations, and send invitations to your contacts. Remember to also connect on LinkedIn with people you are meeting in everyday social contexts. If you have had a conversation with someone about their job even in an everyday social setting, it is usually acceptable to send them a LinkedIn invitation.
- Join online groups: Both Facebook and LinkedIn have industry and alumni groups, which can help you to stay on top of trends and current terminology.
- Read professional magazines and newsletters: A quick skim read can sometimes highlight a mention of an ex-colleague for you to follow up. File any particularly interesting articles so you can re-read them before you begin interviewing.
- Set up Google Alerts: The free Google Alerts system will email to you any online articles that contain specific keywords. It is a convenient way to see information about an organisation, industry, brand, place or person. You can choose to receive one email per day with a list of articles that contain your chosen keywords.
- Congratulate people on their successes: You might see someone you know published on LinkedIn or mentioned in a magazine, or you might hear that they have a new job. It takes only a few seconds to send a quick congratulations message to them, and yet very few people make the effort to do so.
- Christmas or holiday cards: An emailed card – usually with a donation to charity mentioned – is perfectly acceptable and takes almost no time to organise but will ensure you are in touch at least annually with your contacts.
And finally, a quick tip for when you meet new people…
Try to bring your career into everyday conversations. Use examples from your past working life, including experiences with your team or a client to explain your point of view, even in everyday social settings. Start some sentences with “when I was working in…”, or “when I worked at”. You can also introduce yourself to people (or ask your partner to introduce you) including some words about your career. This will open up a whole new range of conversations with people, even people you may know quite well who may have no idea about your career background, experiences or ambitions.
I hope this inspires you to invest just a little bit of time on your career, to make your career re-entry easier when you decide to return to work. Best wishes, Kath
Kath Sloggett, Runneth London