Last week, Phil, an HR Roundtable reader, submitted a question to our panel of human resource experts, asking for advice about how to get back into the job market after being self-employed for 25 years while facing a difficult personal situation. Feel free to read his question in its entirety, it’s the first response to last week’s blog post. For Phil and anyone else who may be in a similar situation, here’s Bill Pinto’s advice:
Phil – I sympathize with your situation. There are a number of things that you can do, however, to enhance your chances of landing the position that you want. First, you need to determine what you want to do. Be sure that you are seeking positions that interest you and that will motivate you. If you are not truly interested in the position, that will come across in any interviews that you have and will not benefit you.
Next, as best you can, try not to focus on the things that you view as limitations. Focus on your skills and experiences that make you the best candidate for the positions you are interested in. Third, you will need to maximize all of your contacts and networking skills. As uncomfortable as that prospect may seem, you need to force yourself to do it. You likely will find that friends and colleagues are more than happy to help out in situations like this. The more people who know about your situation and your skills, the better the odds are that they may hear about something that fits you. They also may be willing to help you get some updated clothes to wear to interviews when you explain your circumstances.
If you determine that accounting or bookkeeping positions are right for you, try to locate accounting associations or other business groups in your area that you can join. Often, such groups not only offer networking opportunities but also continuing education that can expose you to some of the tools, ideas and concepts that you may have missed while focusing on your business. You have identified a potential obstacle in the computer programs with which you are not familiar. If you want a position that requires such knowledge, you may need to make time to learn as much as you can. There are community education courses where you can learn those programs. Some recruiters and job placement agencies also provide training on the more common programs. You will need to do some research into those offerings.
You also may want to re-examine which positions are best for you. Given the amount of time that you have invested in art, maybe some consideration should be given to passing on your knowledge to others through teaching. Public and private schools have needs for art instructors. Community education programs also offer a variety of art courses that require instructors.
Finally, you need to remember that self-promotion is one key to landing the position that you want. That is not easy for most of us to do, but it is necessary when we are applying or interviewing for a position. No one can sell you better than you can. No one knows you better than you do. If you don’t believe in yourself, how can we expect the person doing the hiring to believe in you? You need to exude confidence in your skills and abilities. You need to communicate that you have something to offer the organization that the other candidates cannot. Others may have more degrees than you, but you bring years of experience about how a business operates – things that cannot be learned in a classroom.