by Elizabeth DiGaetano
I had an incredible investment industry career for many years, stepped out of the workforce for 17 years and then stepped back in - into a tech sales position no less. After a long time out, it can be brutal to get back in. Here are 4 tips I learned the hard way:
Tip #1: Develop your skills
The number one reason employers do not want to hire people returning to the workforce is because they view them as an enormous risk; They think these candidates are out of touch. “Old School” is not a compliment, and “relaunchers” are rarely up to speed with technology and today’s business strategies.
This was a big issue for me. I was a late adopter of technology, and held firmly onto my old day planner for far too many years. But this is a temporary problem. People can get fully up to speed with standard technology tools in a short amount of time - within a year - but companies cannot teach decades of leadership experience and tactical skills in a short amount of time. Know your value.
Get up to speed on technology. Everything moves quickly, so learn the basic tools: calendar invitations, GoToMeeting, webinars, Google Drive. Sign up for an Excel class or take online tutorials. It’s amazing what you can learn from YouTube!
Trip #2: Build a Network
Network! You never know where you will find an opportunity. Have some business cards made and carry them with you.
Build a social network presence. LinkedIn is your resume, so it’s important to update it. But there are a lot of valuable platforms out there, and you may get more traction from a smaller audience. Here are some examples that worked for me:
- I found The CLUB Silicon Valley from having coffee with an Enterprise Sales Executive from Apple whom I connected with on Glassbreakers. She happens to be one of the amazing 2015 Incubees, which led to my joining the 2016 Incubator program.
- The majority of my interviews came from jobs I found on AngelList. I connected with some terrific companies from this platform. It’s mostly startups, but you can put in your salary range and find companies further along the growth curve.
- I actually found my first job back (not “consulting”) through Craigslist. It was a position working for Putnam Investments, 20 hours per week with full benefits.
Tip #3: Remain humble
Getting back in the game is humbling. The reality is you may have to take a pay cut, at least initially. After a long, extended career break like I had, the bigger challenge is finding a job to come back to. If this is the case, don’t make it about money. Focus on finding a job, any job, and prove yourself. Look for the best possible team; a place where you can contribute, learn, and grow.
According to an Ellevate Network survey from August 2015, “one in five women reported a pay cut of 20% or more after taking a career break. And at the time of the survey, another 20% hadn’t been able to find a job to come back to yet”.
Don’t mistake being humble for a lack of confidence. You will definitely need confidence, but you also need to get your foot in the door and you may need to be willing to take on anything, even if it’s not in your wheelhouse. If you’re open to taking on any task (something that comes naturally to moms), you will work your way back into what you should be doing. It may be brutal, but I believe most people will find themselves in a great opportunity faster by starting over and mapping out a strategy to get back to an ideal role through hard work, rather than holding out for the perfect job and remaining unemployed.
Tip #4: Be patient
Don’t give up!
Find your advocates. Team up with positive people in the same situation. It’s tough to get back in, but you’re not alone. I have people approaching me every week asking how I made the transition back. Don’t let rejections get you down. There are a lot of resources out there, so keep looking and don’t quit. You will get your groove back!
Elizabeth DiGaetano is a a top-producing Technology Sales Executive, Mom, and Philanthropist, who is passionate about making things grow. She is currently a Senior Account Executive at HelloSign and a member of The CLUB Silicon Valley. Elizabeth was selected for the 2016 CLUB Incubator leadership program because of her tenacity, energy and repeated professional success.