Feature: The Re-Beginners

Feature: The Re-Beginners

Feature: The Re-Beginners

Every person in transition has their own unique set of attributes and circumstances that define the nature of the challenge they face in finding a new or better job. Some job seekers have hard-to-find skills and move quickly from one employment situation to another. Others experience a far more difficult journey, complicated by age, gender or ethnic prejudice. And, still others battle to reenter the workforce after an absence caused by a family or personal commitment. I call this last group, the re-beginners. They are growing in number and finding it ever harder to regain their careers.

Re-beginners are people who have put their careers on hold to care for elderly family members or to raise young children. They constitute one of the fastest growing segments of the workforce as women choose to have children later in life, men choose to be more engaged in the lives of their kids, and both choose to assist parents and other relatives who are now living longer. Their commitment, while noble, leaves a gaping hole in their resume that employers-despite their platitudes about family values-are loath to accept. If all other attributes are equal among a group of candidates (and often, even if they’re not), recruiters and hiring managers will always select the candidate with an unbroken work history.

But, why call these people re-beginners? Why not simply call them returners? I believe they’re re-beginners because that term is a more accurate description of their status. Coming back into the job market after a lengthy absence from the workplace (5 or more years) means they are essentially starting all over again. It would be nice if that were not so, but the reality is that the gap in work pushes them back to square one, not in terms of the experience they can offer an employer, but in terms of their perceived ability to contribute on-the-job. The key to success, therefore, is to find ways to change that perception.

If you’re a re-beginner, what can you do to close the gap-to improve your chances of being recognized as a high value prospective employee? Felicitously, there are several actions you can take that are likely to help. They fall into two categories:

  • Those you should accomplish while you’re out of the workforce, and
  • Those you can undertake while you’re actively looking for a job.
  • You’ll get the best results if you do both: prepare for your return to the workforce during the gap in your employment, even if that return is five or ten years ahead, and take the extra steps necessary to minimize the importance of the gap while you’re in transition. However, if the hole in your resume already exists, doing just those activities that can be accomplished during an active job search will still be helpful.

    Re-Beginner Preparation During the Gap

  • Keep yourself up-to-date in your field. Clearly, that’s a difficult task when you have to take time out from your day-to-day responsibilities to travel to an educational institution, so take your courses online instead. That way you can continue your professional/vocational development and do so whenever and wherever it’s convenient for you.
  • Keep yourself connected. While face-to-face networking is always an effective way to stay in touch with your peers, it’s also time consuming and often inconvenient. A useful supplement, therefore, is online networking. You can connect with colleagues and former coworkers at sites run by your professional association, alumni organization and/or affinity group … and maintain those contacts sitting at home in your fuzzy slippers.
  • Stay top of mind with former employers. A growing number of organizations are taking steps to stay connected to former employees, recognizing that they may want to return at some point in the future. Many host alumni groups on their corporate Web-sites, and if that’s the case with one or more of your former employers, sign up and take advantage of whatever online programs and activities they may offer.
  • Re-Beginner Preparation After the Gap

  • Shift the allocation of time you devote to specific job search activities. Of course, you should use all of the methods that can help you find a new or better job, but focus on the one that is most likely to minimize the perceived disadvantage of your gap in employment: networking. Increase the number of people who know you and what you can do because their knowledge and connections are the best bridge across the gap.
  • Take a course in your field. Taking the initiative to enroll in a development program (and adding that fact to your resume) provides several advantages. It strengthens your skill set while showing employers that you are determined to keep yourself current and to do so on your own nickel. No less important, it exposes you to faculty members and other students who could be helpful in your job search.
  • Attend local meetings of professional associations and alumni groups. Be visible but not a vulture. Don’t be shy about telling others you are in transition, but don’t hand your resume to everyone you meet, either. Focus on establishing yourself as a bona fide member of your field and as someone with whom others would enjoy and value working.
  • Consider taking a temporary or contract position. Many employers are now using these employment arrangements-they’re called temp-to-perm-to evaluate individuals for permanent positions. There’s lower risk for the employer so they are more inclined to give you a chance, and it’s a great way for you to show what you can do, despite the gap in your resume.
  • Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to correcting employers’ and recruiters’ negative perception of a gap in employment. There are some practical steps you can take, however, to change the way they see you and your gap. Think of it as a re-beginning for your career, a way to make you and your potential contribution greater than the hole in your resume.

    Thanks for reading,


    P.S. Remember what you learned in kindergarten: It’s nice to share. Don’t keep WEDDLE’s to yourself. If you like our newsletter, please tell your friends and colleagues about it. They’ll appreciate your thinking of them. And, we will too!

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    The Conference Board released a list of the top ten occupations that were advertised online in the U.S. between January and September, 2006. They are:

  • Management
  • Health care practitioner and technical
  • Business and finance operations
  • Office and administrative support
  • Computer and mathematical
  • Sales and related
  • Architecture and engineering
  • Production
  • Transportation and material moving
  • Installation, maintenance and repair.
  • What’s significant about the list? Its breadth. It covers exempt and nonexempt positions, entry level jobs and those that require experienced professionals, management and staff positions and technical and non-technical positions, openings that are local and do not provide relocation as well as those that are not limited to local candidates and are likely to provide paid relocation. In sort, it’s as rich and diverse an array of possibilities as you’ll find anywhere during a job search.

    The Global Rich List offers a free way for you to see just how well your pay stacks up with other workers in the U.S. and around the world. Enter your annual salary, and the calculator will determine your global wealth ranking and percentile. For example, if you make $51,250 per year, you would rank as the 58,543,933 richest person living on the planet and be among the wealthiest 1% of all humans (despite how you may feel when you pay your bills each month). Lest you think this site is just an exercise in self-congratulatory behavior, however, as soon as it gets you feeling good about yourself-with over 6,500,000,000 people on earth, number 58 million looks pretty good-the site asks you to contribute to a charity and help others around the world who are not so well off. It’s a nifty way, particularly at this time of year, to encourage us all to remember others who are less fortunate than we.

    Mercer Human Resource Consulting LLC published the results of its survey of those occupations where recruiters are most likely to offer a signing bonus. Who gets shown the money? Among 950 U.S. employers:

  • 67% paid signing bonuses to new hires in information technology,
  • 52% to new hires in finance and accounting,
  • 50% to new hires in sales and marketing,
  • 40% to new hires in engineering, and
  • 32% to new hires in human resources.
  • Just because a company pays signing bonuses in your field, however, doesn’t mean you will be offered one. How can you improve your odds of seeing the money? Be at the top of your game in your profession, craft or trade. Be able to articulate, clearly and persuasively, the contribution you can make to the organization. And be personable and polite during the recruiting process. Landing a job is a competition, and landing a bonus is playing for the championship.

    PennTechJobs was launched by PennWell Corporation as an employment resource for engineers seeking opportunities in the following industries: communications, electronics, photonics, optoelectronics, military aerospace, nanotechnology and semiconductor manufacturing. The site offers free access to a job board, a resume database, a salary wizard, a cost-of-living calculator, and a job agent. PennTechJobs.com is a member of the International Association of Employment Web Sites, the standard setting trade organization of the job board industry.

    Robert Half Finance and Accounting surveyed Chief Financial Officers and found that 87% consider the length of time a person has spent at their other jobs when evaluating them as an employment candidate. Does that mean they don’t believe in people making job changes? Absolutely not. It means they may worry about your reliability if you have changed jobs in the wrong way or for the wrong reason. What would raise a question in their eyes? Changing jobs rapidly and without any sign of professional advancement-additional responsibilities, the application of your skills in a new area. Changing jobs, for example, merely to get a small increase in pay or a slightly shorter commute. Do that, and they are likely to see you as a “job hopper” and look to someone else when filling their openings.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. You’re in transition and in the Holiday spirit. Where could you go online if you’d like to take a part time job as a Santa Claus at a local store or mall near your home in Georgia?

  • SantaforHire.com
  • SouthernSantas.com
  • JollyElf.com
  • Santa4You.com
  • 2. You’re a professional truck driver who’s just come off disability and want to get back into the cab as soon as possible. Which of the following sites would steer you to appropriate employment opportunities?

  • JobsinTrucks.com
  • Layover.com
  • TruckDriver.com
  • EmploymentGuide.com
  • 3. You’re an experienced florist who’s just moved to Sacramento, California. Which of the following sites would likely nurture some great job prospects for you with local businesses?

  • BloomingGoodJobs.com
  • Agriseek.com
  • BestGrowers.com
  • BestofBuds.com
  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2007/8 Guides and Directories



    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – All

    Distribution of jobs: National – USA

    Number of jobs: 2,000

    Salary levels of jobs: Up to $150K/yr

    Offer a job agent: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: 60 days

    Restrictions on who can post: Anyone with a disability

    Other services for job seekers: Assessment instruments, Links to other sites with job search/career resources

    Member, International Association of Employment Web Sites: No

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. Either SantaforHire.com or SouthernSantas.com; both JollyElf.com and Santa4You are sites of working Santas who are looking for additional gigs.

    2. All of them.

    3. Only BloomingGoodJobs; Agriseek.com focuses on the Canadian market, BestGrowers.com is the site of a Dutch server management company, and BestofBuds.com is a “computer music resource center.”