Have you been out of the workforce for an extended time? You’re not alone. The COVID-19 pandemic left many people out of work in 2020 and 2020. Some left the workforce to take care of family, recover from illness or take care of other obligations. Others were laid off by employers who did not have enough business to sustain a full workforce.
If you’re ready to get back into the workforce, you may be wondering how. What’s the best way to address your employment gap? How can you make sure your skills are up to par? Do you know how to choose the right employer or opportunity? Are you ready to make the best possible impression on potential hiring managers? CPS Recruitment is a staffing firm that can help smooth the transition back into the workforce and set you up for success no matter where you decide to work.
1. Your Own Career Coach
Your recruiter or staffing firm contact can be like your career coach. They can take a look at your resume and provide pointers on how you can best present your experience and job history to put it in the best possible light for employers. They can tell you what to include, what to skip and how to use active, engaging language to grab the attention of employers. They can also teach best practices that will get you through Applicant Tracking Software (ATS). That’s the software that companies use to perform an initial scan of the resumes they receive before a person looks it over. But if your resume isn’t machine-readable or doesn’t contain the keywords the software is seeking, you’ll never get to a person.
The ATS is the first line of defense for hiring managers who don’t want to waste time with unsuitable candidates. Your goal should not be to trick the ATS into thinking you have skills you do not possess but rather to be sure you use the correct terminology to avoid being eliminated out of the gate. If your skills appear not to match when they actually do, you could be eliminated from consideration. For example, if your title at a previous company was account manager but the job posting is looking for an account representative, as long as the job description seems to match your experience, changing your resume to match the terminology included in the job advertisement can put you at the top of the pile.
Recruiters are also experts in interviewing. They can help you prepare for interviews with employers based on their experience. For example, they often know the best strategies for answering tricky questions, particularly behavioral ones. You can practice your answers with them to be sure to make a great impression on the hiring manager. For example, if your answer to questions like, “What is your greatest weakness?” is trite or inappropriate to the job, the recruiter can give you honest feedback and help you brainstorm a more suitable response that is still honest and accurately reflects who you are and the impression you wish to leave on the hiring manager.
The recruiter can also fill you in on any pet peeves that the employer might. You might be surprised by the factors that can knock you out of the running for a great job. Because they know the employer well, they can let you know what has made previous candidates successful. They can advise you on how to dress, what kinds of questions you will be asked, and what questions you should ask. They can even practice your questions and answers beforehand so that you can walk into the interview with confidence.
With a recruiter, you can be more forthcoming than you would in some cases with a hiring manager. For example, you wouldn’t ask a potential manager if he is a micromanager, but you can ask your recruiter that, and they will answer honestly. One candidate micromanager could be another’s an engaged supervisor. Be honest with your recruiter about your work style and your preferred work environment, so you don’t end up in a job where you are expected to work independently when you thrive as a part of a team and getting regular feedback.
2. Find the Right Opportunity, Faster
Recruiters Can help you find the right opportunity faster. Sometimes employers are not great at writing effective job posts. It can be tough to tell if an opportunity will be the right one for you by just scanning a list of job requirements. Job posts are often a wish list of every possible skill an employer could ever want. It’s usually unlikely they will get them all (at least not without paying much more than they want to. Recruiters can sometimes get employers to prioritize their “must-haves” so that even if you don’t have two years of experience X, you have three years of experience Y which can easily be transferred to the new job. As a candidate, you might never even get a chance to present that information to the employer, but as a third party, the recruiter can speak up on your behalf.
Your recruiter can prevent you from wasting your time interviewing for a job that won’t be the right fit, or the compensation package is not what you require. They can help you reframe your volunteer, freelance, or other experiences to make you more attractive to employers. They can help you brainstorm compelling and professional answers to why you have a gap in your employment. A recruiter will never help you deceive an employer; they just show you how to make the most of your skills and experience and present yourself in a positive light. It can improve your chance of landing the job.
Recruiters have access to jobs that aren’t even advertised. Some employers don’t wish to be inundated by stacks of inappropriate resumes, so they just won’t post jobs. Instead, they give the assignment to trusted recruiters to find suitable candidates rather than waste their time screening the many candidates who reply to their advertisements on a job board.
3. Committed to Your Employment Needs
Recruiters are committed to your employment needs. They’ll tell you if a job has growth potential or if it makes sense to make a lateral move to get into your dream company. They’ll tell you if a company is stable and traditional or cutting edge and vibrant, so you won’t be surprised to find a job that is unlikely to be the right fit after you’ve wasted a lot of time pursuing it.
They will understand if you want to be close to home or work remotely or need to leave by a certain time to pick up kids from daycare or to attend night classes. Some employers encourage work-life balance, and some do not make it a priority. A recruiter can help separate those so that you’re not wasting time on jobs where you won’t be happy, and employers won’t be happy with you.
You can do plenty to optimize your job search before you contact a recruiter and while you are working with them on your job search. You can increase or sharpen your skills. It can be as simple as taking free or inexpensive online courses to brush up on specific software or improve your written communication skills.
Earn certifications relevant to your field or even take college classes. Many colleges offer courses online, which provide even greater convenience if you work full-time or have other obligations. You can join a local Toastmasters branch to hone your public speaking skills, which can be helpful not only if you need to give presentations but also in your interviews.
Create a resume and cover letter template. Resumes are no longer one-size-fits-all. The days when people made one resume and sent it out to dozens of employers are long past. Now every resume is expected to be customized to the specific job. Make it simpler for yourself by creating a base template you can use as your resume and edit it to fit each job opportunity. Do the same with cover letters.
Remember that a cover letter’s job is not to simply say, “Enclosed, please find my resume.” That’s a waste of your time and the employers. The purpose of a cover letter is to act as a sort of a sales piece where you make direct connections between your experience and the job requirements. For example, suppose the job requires three years of engineering experience. In that case, you can point to your two years at employer X and two years at employer Y and describe the specific duties of those roles using the same terminologies as the job posting as appropriate.
If you have a job that requires you to present a portfolio, get it in shape before you launch your search. Make sure it’s up to date and available in a digital format. For free or minimal dollars, you can create a basic website to use as a place to host your portfolio. You can leave the site open to the public, or if you prefer to keep it confidential, you can password-protect it and share the password with employers considering you for a job.
Network with like-minded professionals. Many networking groups have shifted to Zoom meetings. You can network on social media such as LinkedIn Groups or on industry message boards. As more and more places open up, you can even find in-person events where you can talk to people in your field and find employers to chat with on an informal basis. Volunteering offers an opportunity to build skills and make connections.
4. Access to Top Employers
Recruiters go to a great deal of effort to build and maintain relationships with employers throughout the communities and industries they serve. That means they have deep insight into what companies are like and have ongoing relationships with decision-makers. Recruiters put time and effort into earning the trust of employers who will often take their word when they say a candidate will be a good fit for their organization.
Most recruiters have plenty of experience and know the employers and the job market in the area or industry where you’re looking to work. They will have access to employers that are hard to get into and can help you get your foot in the door by vouching for you once they get to know you.
You can try a temporary-to-hire opportunity which gives you a chance to impress employers on the job before either of you commits to a full-time role. It’s a great way to see if you’re the right fit and can increase employer confidence in you if they are concerned about your employment gap.
Recruiters can even help you find temporary jobs so that you can try a variety of industries or roles before you commit to a full-time job. During the pandemic, many people rethought their career paths and want to try something new because they realized they weren’t happy in their pre-pandemic job. It’s not always easy to translate those skills into a new industry or career. A recruiter can help you achieve this by repackaging your talents and finding opportunities where you and employers can try each other out.
Get Back to Work with a True Staffing Partner!
Best of all, these services are free to you. Employers are the ones who pay for staffing and recruiting services. That means recruiters’ top priorities always keep employers happy, but the best way to do that is by providing them with candidates who are just the right matchmaking you happy.
CPS Recruitment is a top employment agency with offices in Syracuse, Auburn, New Hartford, Albany, Buffalo, & Rochester, NY. We have access to unadvertised opportunities in a variety of fields. If you’d like to learn more about how you can successfully get back into the workforce, contact CPS Recruitment today!