By Nandita Bose
Now that you have taken that all-important decision to get back into the workforce after a career break, it is time to take some concrete steps in that direction. One of the key things to do is to upgrade your professional skills. But let us approach things from the ground up.
Prepare to invest time and money
Whatever job you choose to return to, if you have been away for a significant amount of time, you will have to invest in upgrading your skills. For instance, in the tech industry, which is always changing dynamically, you will need to learn new software, tools, and technologies. In marketing, getting a grip on digital marketing or social media marketing is a must-do. In certain other industries, where certifications are important, you will need to get recertified. Remember this is an investment, both in time and money, but one that will pay you back.
Analyze your skills
Before embarking on skills upgradation, it is important to do a professional skills assessment. For this, you could go back to your old resume and draw up a list of your core skills and experience. The next step is to do thorough research on the specific industry and jobs you are targeting. Let us see how.
Do a thorough Industry research
Industry research is a critical step. You need to ensure that the time and resources you spend are directed at jobs that are growing, and not on the wane. Research the latest skills required in the industry. Scan job boards and study the trends there. The ‘job descriptions’ and ‘skills required’ sections on specific jobs will give you vital clues to the technical skills that are currently required in your chosen field. Then, analyze your core skills and find out where the skill gaps are vis-a-vis the current industry.
Find the continuing education institute that’s right for you
Before starting on professional courses, find one that is right for you and the job level you are trying to enter into. Community colleges are inexpensive and offer certificate courses or associate’s degrees, which could transfer credits to four-year college or university degrees.
A lot of reputed universities also have extension campuses for continuing education. If attending classes in person is difficult, consider online courses, which many universities and community colleges offer. Try and talk to people who have taken these courses to know if the quality and intensity of the curriculum would suit your goals.
Getting back to the workforce after a break may be a bit of a challenge, but it can certainly be overcome by retooling yourself with patience, perseverance, and some tactical effort.