When you’ve been out of work for a while, regardless of the reason for taking time off it can be a pretty daunting prospect when you do decide it’s time to re-join the workforce.

Employers are very big on looking at recent relevant experience, which can make things difficult for anyone that’s had some time away. However just because you had to take a break doesn’t mean you can’t put your best foot forward when it comes to job hunting. Our latest top tips are here to help you on the job-hunting journey:

Step 1 – Sort out your CV

Before you even start looking at job boards, it’s a good idea to get your CV up to date and ready to go. Don’t be afraid to address any gaps within your CV by including a short line that explains the reason for taking some time out. That way you can jump on opportunities as soon as they come up. It also pays to think about your social media platforms and what kind of information is publicly available about you, as prospective employers and recruiters will often check those too!

Step 2 – Get your referees sorted

Before you start putting yourself out there, think about who you would use as referees. Most employers expect to be able to speak with at least two people that can vouch for your abilities and behaviour in the workplace. Often when you’re going through a recruitment process, you may not have much notice before referees are asked for, so it’s good to have those details sorted out well in advance. This saves you from scrambling at the last minute and trying to track down the contact details of someone you haven’t seen in a while! We have some handy tips on what to consider when choosing a referee here.

Step 3 – Think about what kind of job you want

It can sometimes be hard to know what kind of job to look for, especially if you’re wanting to branch out from what you’ve done previously. Having an idea of what kind of jobs to target will make your job search easier, but if you need some tips on how to figure out your next career move, we’ve got you covered!

Step 4 – Start searching

Familiarise yourself with job boards, especially if it’s been a while since you last looked. You can still find vacancy notices in the newspaper, but these days they tend to be high profile executive roles. Websites like Seek, LinkedIn and Trade Me Jobs are the most common places to find new opportunities, but they aren’t the only places to look.

To help with your job-hunt, we highly recommend setting up profiles and job alerts on websites like Seek and LinkedIn, that way you can get notifications about new jobs that interest you, and potentially be contacted by employers or recruiters looking to hire.

You can also get in touch with recruitment agencies who can keep you in the loop about vacancies they’re working on. If you haven’t gone through a recruitment agency before, you can find out what it’s all about here.

Step 5 – Put together strong applications

When you’ve found a job you like the look of, it’s time to submit a compelling application. Most of the time this consists of a cover letter and a CV, but make sure you pay attention to the instructions on the job ad just in case they ask for additional information. After all, you want your application to stand out for all the right reasons!

We highly recommend creating cover letters that are tailored to the job – especially if you think your CV may not be an obvious match. This is your opportunity to show them what you can bring to the table, so make sure you check out our tips on how to create a good cover letter.

The best thing you can do is get ready to address the elephant in the room. Create a succinct answer to why you’ve been out of work that can be ready to go at a moment’s notice. If you’re being screened or interviewed for a role, it’s highly likely you’ll be asked to explain this, but don’t feel like you have to get into the nitty gritty, especially if it’s an emotional subject for you. We have some tips on how to explain gaps in your CV here.

If you’re applying for jobs but finding it hard to get past the application stage, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback if it’s not already been given. It’s really useful to get an understanding of why your application wasn’t progressed, as that can help you front foot potential gaps moving forwards. We have some handy tips on how to ask for feedback, but also how to follow up if you’re still waiting for an outcome on an application!

Good luck,

Kirsty and Nikki

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