Entering the workforce is already tough. Now imagine being a parent who spent the last 17 years out of the workforce because you wanted to prioritize your family. This was the scenario that Elizabeth Andrew found herself in when she decided to re-enter the workforce several years ago.
Now Andrew is VP of Sales at Pluma. How did she do it? Andrew shared her journey and provided some resources and advice regarding career re-entry at the Fireside Chat “Re-Entering the Workforce on the Right Foot” hosted by WOZ and ENTITY Academy.
Re-Entering the Workforce
When Andrew was re-entering the workforce, she found most people didn’t want to return her phone calls or offer a position at the same level she held previously.
However, despite these challenges, Andrew powered on. Eventually, she took an assistant position in financial services, getting back in the game. During this time she utilized her experience and built on the technology skills that she lacked.
Once she settled into work a bit more, she had a second epiphany — rather than work in the financial industry, she wanted to work in sales, specifically for the technology industry. Andrew switched gears, and has succeeded, working for iChip by LifeNexus, Dropbox —through the HelloSign acquisition — and most recently Pluma.
During the Fireside Chat, Andrew shared many tips and nuggets of advice that helped her — and now hopefully others — succeed.
Tip #1: Networking
Andrew shared networking was one of the most important areas that she worked on for career re-entry.
Since she wanted to transition into the tech industry, she began following technology-focused media publications to learn more about what was happening in the tech industry. She also improved her LinkedIn profile and made more connections with people who worked in technology.
Andrew also recommended taking the initiative and attending events or organizations to connect with other industry professionals and learn about opportunities.
According to a 2017 Recruiter Nation Report by Jobvite, referrals are considered one of the most important hiring factors among recruiters. The study also found that recruiters thought talent coming from employee referrals were among the highest quality of people hired.
Job applicants have to network and build great relationships with fellow industry professionals for the possibility of a job referral.
Tip #2: Build a Brand
Andrew stated that building a brand can be integral to career re-entry. Recruiters may be wondering whether your skills may be lacking since you haven’t been working recently. It’s up to you to advocate for your experience.
“What I speak to a lot when I talk to companies and try to get them to consider hiring people that have career gaps and transitions on their resume, is the fact that you can teach the tech tools in a year. You can get involved in programs,” said Andrew during the Fireside Chat, “But you can’t teach somebody years of experience that you have.”
According to an article from Forbes, branding experts share that personal branding helps cultivate and optimize an online presence so that recruiters are more likely to find you, and more importantly, want to know more about you.
Tip #3: Lift Yourself Up and Be Your Own CEO
If an interview doesn’t go according to plan, then take it as a learning experience. Andrew suggests that during a remote interview, you should be as authentic as possible. If it helps, write three or four key points that you feel set you apart from other applicants to share during the interview.
Andrew also suggested treating yourself like the CEO of your own business. You can come up with a board of advisors — friends, fellow peers, mentors — to help review applications and give advice on resumes or cover letters.
According to an article by CompTIA, resourcefulness, and perseverance are among the top soft skills that tech employers look for, so applicants should apply the same fervor and dedication to the application process as they would to a new job.
Tip #4: Be Humble
Andrew says that it’s important for returning workers to realize that not every job will be perfect. Some jobs may be at a lower level than when you first entered the workforce, but it may allow you to quickly advance in the company or learn new skills for an even better job opportunity.
According to an article by the Harvard Business Review, many technology companies are implementing returnships to help parents re-enter the workforce. Returnships are a form of internship that allows a potential worker to relearn specific skills or get more information about the company. Some returnships may also turn into a permanent position.
Resources for People Who are Returning to Work
Re-entering the workforce doesn’t have to be a grueling or isolating process. There are many resources available for people who want to re-enter the workforce. You may want to become a part of a specialized professional organization or look for mentoring opportunities.
WOZ offers training programs in software development, data science, cybersecurity, and iOS mobile application development. Professionals looking for educational opportunities can find a way to hone new skills or receive mentorship from people in the industry.
Sophia Acevedo is a journalist based in Southern California. She is a 2020 graduate from California State University, Fullerton, and a proud Daily Titan alum.