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9 tips for rejoining the workforce

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Took a break and now resuming your career? Here are my top tips to help you transition back to the workforce:

Read the news every day

Over the years, I have discovered a daily practice that acts like nothing short of a superpower for your career. It’s simple: Get smarter about the news of your industry and the world around you.

This one habit will pay astonishing dividends throughout your career. As a job seeker, it builds your awareness of new opportunities, trends, companies and people to talk to about potential job openings. Once you have a job, staying on top of the news contributes to out-of-the-box thinking and opportunity-seeking, which is particularly crucial in today’s world full of change and disruption.

Start a list

When it comes to targeting jobs and employers to pursue, quantity matters as much as quality. Start an ongoing Really Big List in a notebook, or on your computer or phone, of every career possibility that comes to mind as a prospect for you. Try not to censor yourself at all; just write. Your list will come in handy in a variety of ways during your career planning and job search. For example, you can bring it to informational interviews to help spark other people’s thinking about prospects for you to pursue or connections they might have to offer.

Shape your personal brand

Make no mistake about it, employers are checking you out online. While you sometimes can’t control what information appears about you on the web, often you can. For instance, ask the friend to remove an embarrassing photo caption from his blog before you start interviewing for jobs. Having an inappropriate web presence can kill your chances of getting a great job, but having no presence at all can be problematic as well. Depending on what kind of career opportunities you’re pursuing, you can develop an online presence by contributing blog posts to industry websites, engaging in professional social media discussions (especially on LinkedIn) and commenting on industry blogs or social media posts.

Define “work experience” broadly

We all know that jobs are relevant to include on a resume or LinkedIn profile, but so are volunteer activities, extracurricular roles, advanced classwork, even personal interests. Whether you’re crafting a cover letter for a new job or negotiating a higher salary at a current one, it’s important to take a full inventory of your professionally related experiences and abilities.

Give your resume the third degree

What is impressive on a legal resume is different from what is required on an artist’s resume, which is different from what’s necessary on an engineer’s resume. So, make sure your resume will pass muster in the industry you want to join. If you haven’t already, show your resume to anyone you know in your desired field and get their opinion before you apply for jobs.

Tackle LinkedIn like a pro

As the largest and most vibrant professional social network in the world (over 500 million members with 40 percent of them using it daily), LinkedIn provides a wealth of opportunities for personal branding, networking and finding jobs. My biggest piece of advice is this: LinkedIn doesn’t work unless you work it. You must take control of your profile and visit the site frequently to get the most benefit.

Explore a passion as a career strategy

I have met with dozens of people at all stages of their careers and eventually everyone comes around to the same conclusion: To be happy in your career, you have to work at something you find fulfilling. Not sure what your passion is yet? Check out this blog for strategies for finding your passion.

Seek a mentor

Wouldn’t it be great to talk to an older, wiser version of yourself who can look back from the future and guide you in the right direction? That is exactly what a great mentor can do, and finding a strong mentor is a fantastic career and job search booster. In some ways, a mentoring relationship is like a long-term informational interview. It’s also a kind of friendship. This means that you and your mentor have to have a natural affinity for each other and genuinely enjoy talking and watching each other’s success.

Relax, a job is not a soul mate

While I’m not entirely sure if there is only one person on earth for each of us romantically, I can absolutely guarantee that this is not the case when it comes to jobs. Cast the widest net possible in your job search and be open to finding a great job in a surprising industry or organization.

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Lindsey Pollak is an expert on the Millennial generation and author of Becoming the Boss and a popular blog.

Views expressed in blogs, posts and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and corporate partners.