Are you a new mom going back to work after taking maternity leave? Did you take time off to raise a family and are now ready to resume work outside of the home? Have you been doing exhaustive double duty raising a family and simultaneously taking care of elderly parents?
No matter what your current situation, re-entering the workforce represents a major change in lifestyle with emotional, psychological and political ramifications. If you have been out of the mainstream for any period of time, you can be sure you will be dealing with shifts in attitude, new office politics, and the sheer insanity of re-scheduling your life to accommodate your work. There are steps you can take to maximize your chances of finding the job you want, successfully competing against others and commanding the level of income you seek.
Whether you are in the interview stage or just contemplating beginning a new career, it is time to assess your “external package” and see what needs updating. Whether you like it or not, first impressions really do count. Looking old and dated vs younger and vibrant can make the difference between getting invited to a second interview or being told “don’t call us – we’ll call you”. You must remember that the objective of getting past this seemingly superficial stage is to get to the next level where you can showcase your talents and skill sets and get an opportunity to shine.
Studies actually show that people quickly form their opinion of you within the first 30 seconds of meeting you, based on what you look like, how you speak, and what you say. A first impression can literally make or break your chances at a new job.
So what can you do to make a good first impression?
1. Figure out who you are targeting. Are you trying to impress a new employer or a consumer? You need to know your target audience. If you don’t know where you are going, you can’t get there.
2. Create a mission statement that explains exactly who you are, what you do, and how you are different from others in the same workspace. Be prepared to use it as your “elevator pitch” during job interviews and networking situations.
3. Take advantage of current social media outlets to promote yourself and/or your brand. Some of the best sites for this are: Google+, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Remember that anything you post will circulate on the Internet forever and be viewed by the public-at-large, so be careful not to divulge anything that could come back to bite you and sabotage your chances for employment.
4. Write a short e-book to establish credibility in your field of expertise. Being a “published” author, even a self-published one, is a great way to enhance a resume.
5. If you will be going on job interviews, please upgrade your wardrobe! Resist the temptation to resurrect your old business outfits from mothball retirement. You must appear current and in touch with all things, and that includes fashion. This does not mean that you should dress like a teen-ager: find an appropriate outfit that says something about your sense of style and taste, makes you feel beautiful and then revel in it. If you look good, you will feel good.
6. Update your hairstyle. Look at current fashion and hair magazines for styles that might suit you…then make an appointment with a reputable hairdresser to get a professional opinion about what is likely to look good on you. This includes hair color. A display of overgrown “roots” is not attractive on anybody, no matter what the age, and outlandish hair colors can undermine your professional credibility unless your job happens to be lead singer in a rock band.
7. Don’t shy away from wearing eyeglasses: studies have shown that people who wear them are often perceived as having high IQs and being of superior intelligence.
Remember: competing for jobs and revenue in today’s constantly evolving economy can be a challenge. Take the time to invest in yourself. It will pay off in spades.
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