A guide for successfully navigating your employment gap, getting back into the market, and identifying your best job opportunities.

Industries and markets such as tech are constantly evolving and modernizing, but don't rule yourself out for having an employment gap or dated IT skills. Why? New jobs are generated with innovation and progression, requiring individuals with the new skillsets to support the advancements in tech. 

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, total employment is projected to increase by 11.9 million jobs from 2020 to 2030. This puts you back in the running! Furthermore, your tech experience from years before is an added element, a differentiator that can help you stand out amongst other job seekers.

Focus on Transferable Skills

Many skills can be applied to a variety of roles, regardless of an employment gap. Examples include problem-solving, customer service, communication, and time management.

Highlight Training, Certifications, and Education

Don't forget to highlight previous training, certifications, and education. Continue upskilling by researching current educational trends in the IT field and pursue additional relevant certifications. 

The Importance of Differentiators and a Pitch

Yes, the job market is still competitive for recent graduates, and many are obtaining certifications and degrees. However, you have experience representing your differentiators, which will set you apart. Your differentiators should include what you learned from your previous job to help position yourself for a new one. Leverage these differentiators to develop a type of elevator pitch. 

When composing your pitch, consider what makes you capable of doing something better than other candidates seeking the same position. Your pitch should focus on the solutions and trade the hiring manager seeks, which takes us to upskilling.

You've been out of the job market, so it's essential to demonstrate that you're still enhancing your skills. How have you been upskilling, staying connected to the industry, and doing other things that relate to the job description? If you're unsure where to start, look at various job descriptions (posted for similar positions) in detail. 

Pick out the important things and make sure you can talk about your capabilities, regardless of having been out of the market for some time. Also, include these differentiators in your pitch to show what you've done to develop your skills. 

Differentiators can consist of things such as the following:

  • Prepping for the security plus exam or others relevant to the job for which you're applying
  • Having a home lab demonstrating your activities relating to the cloud and AWS
    • Indicative of being up to date in pertinent technologies
  • No home lab, no problem!
    • Include conferences and webinars you've attended

Once you've developed a pitch including your differentiators, you can confidently chime in with, "Let me tell you about my capabilities and why I'm the right candidate!"

The Value in Networking

Now that you've developed a memorable pitch, include it as part of the first paragraph of your resume and use it when networking. 

A notable statement will help your resume stand out among other resumes from applicants sharing your skillsets. Dedicate time to practice your pitch for interviews and networking events. 

Use platforms such as LinkedIn, MeetUp, and Eventbrite to get connected with other professionals. 

When networking and reaching out, clearly convey your reasoning for connecting. Identify who you are and your interests. 

Start reaching out to who you know and then consider who they may know to increase your chances of building relationships. 

Eliminate the Discomforts of Attending Networking Events

Virtual webinars, conferences, and meet-ups don't require walking the floor and approaching individuals. However, you still have to show up because a wallflower is unimpressionable. Networking online requires a proactive approach, reaching out to others, and even speaking or posing questions by chat. Gain more confidence attending online calls, conferences, webinars, etc., considering the following:

  • Is your attire and appearance appropriate for the event?
  • Ensure your background is tidy or use a blur filter
  • Consider using engaging or appropriate backdrops
  • Eliminate or reduce potential distracting or off-putting sounds
  • Turn on your camera and use your pitch
  • Be prepared to partake and engage

Consider your facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. When properly used, body language or expressions can make a positive impact during your phone, video, and live engagements. Other non-verbal prompts can help show your engagement and attentiveness to help you stand out. Learn more by watching our Toolbox Talk recording and panel discussion, Find Your Voice, Part 1.

Use some of the following networking tips to help ease your worry.

  • Ask a friend or colleague to join
    • Are you going solo? Help break the jitters by striking up conversations while waiting in the sign-in line, at the event beverages counter, etc.
  • If you aren't holding up the line, strike up a conversation with the sign-in or welcome attendant to practice your introduction
  • Are you approachable? Use eye contact to connect, smile, and gesture as an invitation to say hello 
  • Approach individuals versus larger groups; individuals attending solo can relate

Once you've become comfortable attending networking events, you can further refine your engagement and build trusting relationships utilizing resources from our articles, Building Trust and Confidence and Building Trust and Rapport in Phone and Video Meeting, Part 1 and Part 2.

Develop your skills, grow your network, improve interview skills, ask the tough questions, and find the right company that supports your ideas for success.

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