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10 Tips for Re-Entering the Workforce

a lineup of men and women sitting in chairs holding their applications and resumes waiting for an interview

Returning to the workforce can be an intimidating feat, especially if you’ve been out of it for an extended amount of time. If you’ve experienced homelessness, you may feel discouraged – especially if your last attempt at finding work was unsuccessful. 

At Regeneration, we understand the struggles that our guests have been through, and we’re sure you have your own story. We have helped countless individuals make significant changes in their life, and we want to help you change yours, too.

We’re here to tell you that you are fully capable of re-entering the workforce, no matter what your past was. If you’ve been out of work for days, months, or years, it doesn’t matter – you are deserving of rewarding employment and recognition.

1. Cultivate Your Unique Story

Everyone has a story. When you’re looking for work, you have to work your personal story to account for your uniqueness and what you bring to the table. It’s no secret that any potential employer will likely wonder about extensive gaps on a resume, but what should you say?

You should never be ashamed of what you’ve been through. Overcoming homelessness, addiction, domestic violence, or any traumatic experience is a milestone. Although you may not need to go into too much detail, your story can help paint a picture of perseverance, bravery, and dedication.

If you’re determined to gain employment, you can, and your story can simply be a stepping stone to help you get there.

2. Evaluate Your Work Experience

One of the most important things a potential employer will look for is work experience. You may have a few gaps on your resume, but any work experience can be developed to help you highlight the skills you’ve learned at past positions.

A lot can change in a short amount of time, so be sure to keep that in mind when you’re job hunting. If you can, try to catch up with a past industry you were involved in so you can comment on how it’s changed and what you may need to prepare for.

Identifying skill and knowledge gaps you may need to fill can put you at an advantage. If you let a prospective employer know what you know and what you’d like to learn, it shows you’ve put in the time and effort to evaluate your competencies and where you can add value.

3. Practice Your Interview Skills

The interview process is your chance to make a lasting impression on an employer you may want to work for. Brushing up on your interview skills will help you feel more confident and prepared for even the most obscure questions.

Start by researching common questions hiring managers ask in the industry you’re applying for. Glassdoor, a job bank site, also has an interview section where previous interviewees submit information on various companies’ interview process. Here, you can see specifics on what you can expect from your interviewer, from the overarching strategy to specific interview questions.

There are plenty of resources available online to help you land and ace an interview, but it’s crucial you take the time to do so. Being prepared for an interview will show through your answers and body language. 

Take some time to learn about the company, what they do, and try to develop a few points that exemplify how you can add value to their business.

4. Be Open to New Experiences

an employer interviewing a prospective employee

The world is changing and evolving every day. Positions that were once integral to a company’s operations and now obsolete and positions that didn’t exist 5 years ago are now at the forefront. Because of such rapid growth and change, try to stay open-minded during your job hunt. 

Even if you only worked in a handful of positions within similar industries doesn’t mean you can’t be successful at another. Many companies will hire new employees with little to no experience if you express you are willing and able to learn. 

5. Tweak Your Resume

Your resume is a critical part of the job-hunting process. Your resume is the first impression that will decide whether or not you will get the opportunity to interview. Polishing it up so it truly speaks to the capable, talented human being you are is essential.

Research some jobs in your area and save a few postings you may be interested in. Then, compare your resume to the postings. Do any of the skills and proficiencies you list match those of the job posting? If not, how can you adjust it, so it feels like it fits?

Be sure to adjust each resume you hand out to the specific job you’re applying for to increase your chances of getting an interview.

6. Develop an Impactful Cover Letter

The resume is only half the battle when it comes to finding suitable employment. Crafting a job-specific cover letter to each position you apply for speaks volumes to your dedication. This also gives you a chance to talk directly to the employer before your interview.

A great cover letter should include:

  • Specific job skills, traits, and past experiences relevant to the position
  • Business letter formatting, including contact information and a formal greeting
  • Details about the position you’re applying for 
  • Details about how you meet and exceed the required skills of the position
  • Your interest in hearing from them regarding the position
  • A thank you for the opportunity to apply

If you can, try to find a specific person to address the letter to. Although addressing the letter “To whom it may concern…” is suitable, addressing it to the hiring manager by name is much more effective.

Also, if you know someone that works at the company, ask them if you can mention them in your letter or use them as a reference. Having a referral from someone on the inside can help you get your foot in the door.

7. Cast a Wide Net

When you’re job hunting, push yourself to apply for positions you may not be qualified for. Often, college applicants are encouraged to apply to 3 tiers of schools; their first choices, second choices, and “fall back” schools. This increases their chances of being accepted into a school they want to be at.

The same goes for you when you’re handing out resumes. If you lack experience or feel your skills don’t quite line up with what a position asks for, apply anyway. The right employer may see your potential and give you a chance.

8. Focus on Networking

Connections are one of the easiest ways to land yourself a new position. Create a LinkedIn account and organize it so it acts as a public resume. Recruiters often seek out potential matches on LinkedIn and browse through your experience to pinpoint if you may be a good fit.

Volunteering can also be a great addition to your resume. If you’re having trouble finding work due to a lack of experience, volunteering can put some recent experience on your resume to gain valuable, employable skills.

You can also reach out to past employers, coworkers, friends, and family members to make more connections. In some cases, it really is about who you know.

9. Seek Advice

If you have the chance, reach out to some of your friends or family who are employed. Speak with people who have been at the same job for years, someone who just got hired, and someone who hires people – if you can.

Have a trusted friend examine your resume and cover letter for ways you can improve it and ask them for some interview tips. You can also practice interviewing with a friend or have them help you pick out a good outfit for interviews.

Sometimes, having a second set of eyes and ears is beneficial when preparing for an interview.

 10. Have a Vision

The most important thing of all; have a vision for yourself. Picture what you want your life to look like in 5 – 10 years and evaluate how you can help yourself get there. Finding a job may end up taking longer than you anticipate and can leave you feeling frustrated or discouraged.

Try not to lose hope. Know that no matter how long and windy your road may be, at the end of it, you’ll be at your destination. 

To Sum it Up

No matter what you’ve been through, you can find employment that enriches your life and serves your needs. At Regeneration, we are dedicated to helping you through the tough times to experience some good ones, too.

If you need help, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We have a bank of resources and kind, compassionate staff to help you when you need it.

Written by Ted Brown

Ted Brown our CEO has lived in Brampton for over 32 years. He is passionate about making a difference in his community and believes in reaching out without judgement to those in need of care. An ordained minister with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, he served with Kennedy Road Tabernacle for 30 years, and worked as a junior high and outreach pastor as well. Ted has been serving with Regeneration since July 2011.

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