As the economy sours, many women who took time off to stay home with their children are reinventing themselves to re-enter the work force. Job recruiters say a resume gap doesn't have to be a liability, but you need to actively market yourself and your skills. Develop an Internet strategy that will help you and your experience stand out.
Here are some tips to get you started from Heather Cabot, Web life editor at Yahoo:• Develop your online presence: People need to be able to find you on the Web if they're going to hire you. Create a profile on LinkedIn.com, launch your own Web site or blog, or submit articles based on your professional expertise/or experience to e-publications like www.ehow.com.
• Polish your image: Make sure the first online impression of you is professional. Type your name into search engines, including Yahoo! and see what pops up. If you get your Facebook or MySpace page, you'll want to ensure the photos and messages are G-rated and perhaps, change the privacy setting to friends-only.
• Network: Reconnect with former colleagues and capitalize on relationships online and off. Does a parent at your child's school know somebody who works in the industry you want to re-enter? Ask for a contact name and number. You can also explore Yahoo! Groups to find a network of people with similar interests and goals. Ask former colleagues to write recommendations for your LinkedIn profile.
• Seek support: Link up online and off with organizations geared to supporting women re-entering the workforce including, iRelaunch.com, YourOnRamp.com and LadiesWhoLaunch.com. You'll find job leads, advice and camaraderie to help you build confidence and connections.
• Target your audience: Tap online communities within your field. For example, if you're a CPA, look for jobs and network on accounting industry job boards such as American Institute for Certified Public Accountants or the American Society of Women Accountants instead of sifting through thousands of job listings on a more general site.
• Learn the language: Make it easier for recruiters to find you by optimizing your resume and cover letter for search engines and resume scanning software. Incorporate the words that describe the nuts and bolts of a position you want into your resume and cover letter, for example: "market research,'' "sales administration'' or "records management.''
• Brush up on essential office tools: It is important to stay in the know on the essential tools of the modern office. Check out course offerings at your local community college, or YMCA and sign up for classes in Microsoft Office to brush up on your Excel, Word and PowerPoint skills.