If you’ve had to leave the workforce for any of a myriad of reasons – such as to care for children learning from home or for older members of the family – you’ve probably experienced firsthand how much losing that income can impact your finances. While the prospect of returning to work might seem daunting, many people are using this opportunity to start an entirely new career. Baird Women Advisors, a network of female Financial Advisors at Baird, offers five tips for those thinking about heading back to work.
1. Do Your Prep Work
Start mapping out what your career might look like going forward. Are you seeking a full-time position, or would you be open to a part-time or less senior role? Are you looking to pick up where you left off, or are you using this opportunity to try something new? Are you anticipating your second career to be a short one, or do you still have decades before retirement? Answering these questions now can help you figure out what aspects of your new job are non-negotiable and where you can be flexible.
2. Build Your Case
Whether you’ve put your career on pause for a lengthy period of time or are pivoting from one career into another, it’s worth identifying your strengths and weaknesses and how to maximize your opportunities for a fresh start.
- If you’re starting a new venture, there’s a good chance your experience may be found lacking compared to the competition. What can you do to narrow the gap? Additional coursework, remote volunteer opportunities, online certification and informational interviews are a good place to start. You can establish credibility quickly by researching topics that are relevant to your new field and posting articles online.
- Don’t forget to brush up on your soft skills. Time spent out of the office might have left you feeling a little rusty. Interpersonal communication skills take on even greater importance in a more virtual world – you don’t want to miss out on opportunities because you’re out of practice.
- Ask a trusted friend for their objective opinion on how you present yourself and your viability as a candidate. Encourage them to be critical – prospective employers and clients won’t hesitate to question if you’re the right person for the job.
3. Prepare for Virtual Interviews
Much of the onboarding and interview process has moved online with video calls, and putting your best virtual foot forward requires acing your video setup. Do you have the audio and video equipment you need? Is your camera at the right angle? Is your background professional and uncluttered? Practice video calls with a friend so you can get a sense of what interviewers would see.
4. Network Online
Tapping into your personal network is a natural starting point – you never know when a friend or family member might connect you to someone who can help open doors. Facebook and LinkedIn groups are another great way to meet like-minded professionals. The key is to not just show up but to make yourself visible – post, comment, chat, share articles, demonstrate your expertise and relationship-building. Just make sure your social media profiles are up-to-date before you start virtual mingling.
5. Allow for Bumps Along the Way
The pandemic caught all of us off-guard, and many companies are still finding their footing. Processes might take longer or require some flexibility on your part. This might not be a bad thing – your can-do attitude and willingness to roll with the punches will likely be appreciated by employers and clients, who might be willing to downplay any gaps in your resume if you come across as understanding and thoughtful. Many companies have replaced full-time positions with contract work – that could be an opportunity to quickly build up a work history and clientele.
One final tip: Keep in mind that time spent outside the workforce might have thrown your financial plans off-track. If you’ve had to short-change your retirement savings, you might be able to make up for it by maximizing contributions to your employer's retirement plans and taking advantage of catch-up contributions if you're eligible. Also, you might have new expenses that you didn’t have before, like a webcam, second monitor or high-speed broadband. Track your expenses to stick to your budget.
About Baird Women Advisors
Established in 2008, Baird Women Advisors is an organization composed of female Financial Advisors at Baird. By bringing these advisors together to network and share best practices, the group is committed to promoting the profession and making Baird the best place to work for women in wealth management.