8 Things to Do If You Haven’t Job Searched in Years

Looking for a new job can be a daunting prospect for anyone, but if you’ve been out of the workforce for quite a while, the idea of seeking employment can be downright terrifying.
Many people find themselves in exactly this position, however, as they attempt to re-enter the working world after years away to care for children, deal with a personal or family health crisis, pursue additional education, or follow a dream.
Fortunately, you can take a few simple steps to get back into the swing of things.

Here are eight suggestions to consider if you need a job but haven’t job searched in years:

1. Start with some research.

If you haven’t been looking for a job in years, you may be surprised at some of the changes in the marketplace. Take a few minutes to learn about the latest resume trends, brush up on your job search habits, or figure out how to talk to employers about your time away from the office. JobAdvisor is a good place to start, as it offers many resources and tips to help you get up to speed on today’s employment market.

2. Update your resume.

The resume you used five years ago isn’t going to cut it now. Dust it off and make it better. For example, if you gained additional education or training while you were out of the workforce, emphasize that. If you completed relevant volunteer work, explain your duties and accomplishments. Refreshing your resume is definitely worth the time and effort.

3. Use your network.

“Getting your foot in the door with employers, or getting them to take a chance on you and interview you, is one of the hardest tasks if you have an unusual career path or a resume with some gaps,” says an article from Career Sidekick. “And when somebody who is trusted by an employer introduces you directly or recommends you for a position, the employer immediately trusts you a lot more. While this doesn’t guarantee they’ll hire you, it definitely boosts the chance you’ll get interviewed.”

4. Treat your job search like a full-time gig.

When you haven’t been on the job for a while, you may be a little rusty in your personal best practices related to work. Treating your hunt like a job will help you rediscover those skills. Set your hours, follow a task list, send out lots of resumes, and do everything else you’ll do once you’re back at work.

5. Hone your skills.

If you didn’t stay up to date with your industry while you were out of the workforce, now is the time to pursue online courses, certifications, or other educational opportunities. Treat this as one of the daily tasks of your job search. As you complete courses, add that information to your resume and mention them in your cover letter. Employers will want to hear how you improved your skill set during your time away.

6. Embrace flexibility.

This may mean exploring remote or part-time positions to get a toehold with a company you love, but it also may require other tough decisions. “If you’re holding out for the perfect position and it’s been more than six months, it’s time to switch tactics and consider things you would not have before,” says an article from The Ladders. “Be willing to look outside of your city and outside of your network for jobs, even if this means switching career fields or taking a lower-level position. While you may not want to move for a job, it’s important to think of necessity: go where the jobs are, and once you’re in a secure position, you can strategize your next step from there.”

7. Offer meaningful ideas to potential employers.

Some managers are hesitant to hire people who have gaps in their resumes. If you include specific plans for how you can help their businesses in your cover letter or an interview, you can overcome some of that reticence. “Demonstrate your value and work ethic to an employer by offering meticulous and creative solutions to problems,” says an article from Learnthat.com. “Don’t go into an interview with an aim to correct the employer, but show that you have an awareness about what issues the company might face, and show them what you can do to offer a solution.”

8. Ooze positivity, in person and online.

You will get frustrated, anxious, and maybe even angry as your job search proceeds. That’s to be expected. But don’t let negativity creep into your conversations with others. Instead, make sure people who speak with you at networking events or communicate with you in cyberspace come away with a positive impression of your enthusiasm, skills, and experience. This can be difficult when you’re feeling down, but it can also help you find the job you want. And the sooner you secure a position, the sooner your job search will be over.
These suggestions may boost your search, but it’s still likely to take awhile to get back to work. Be diligent, stay patient, and maintain your focus. Remember: you’ve done this before, and you can do it again.