Johnny C. Taylor Jr.
Johnny C. Taylor Jr. tackles your human resources questions as part of a series for USA TODAY. Taylor is president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, the world’s largest HR professional society and author of “Reset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval.”
The questions are submitted by readers, and Taylor’s answers below have been edited for length and clarity.
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Question: After nearly a decade of being a full-time parent, I am itching to get back to work. However, I am concerned my experience is too dated to be attractive to employers. Do you have any advice on restarting a career after such a long hiatus? – Darlene
Johnny C. Taylor Jr.: You have chosen a tremendous time to reenter the job market. For a range of occupations and industries, job seekers significantly outnumber available jobs.
To start, take inventory of your knowledge and skills related to the job you left and the position you seek. Is there anything you’ve done or can do to update your knowledge and experience, such as attending seminars, webcasts, or reading relevant books? Any tangible evidence of updated knowledge and skills will demonstrate relevant competence, such as completed coursework or obtaining a certification. Update your resume to reflect any recent learning opportunities you’ve completed.
You can also include any volunteer work related to the position and work you prefer. It could be leading a team for a charitable event, managing money for a fundraiser. These activities will demonstrate your level of responsibility, trustworthiness, attention to detail, and leadership; They also represent skills transferrable across multiple fields and positions.
Don’t sell yourself short. Parenting is a job requiring skills that translate to the workplace. Consider your skills as a parent like organization, time management and planning. Parenting often involves executing a daily schedule and coordinating events, travel, and logistics. Do you multitask and demonstrate flexibility when things don’t go according to plan? You can communicate these competencies based on your personal strengths as they relate to your desired position.
Lastly, don’t forget to leverage your professional and personal networks. Reach out to former colleagues or supervisors who work in industries you are interested in. Ask them about current challenges and opportunities. People who know you best are best positioned to advocate for character and competency. They may even have the lead that gets you in the door.
Sometimes workplaces welcome a fresh perspective from people who’ve left the workforce, so don’t assume this will be perceived as a negative. Prioritizing family and work/life integration has reached new heights of acceptance. Should you encounter any criticism for the years invested in raising a family, remain confident and continue to brush up on your skills. Your new job may be just around the next corner.
Q: In recent months, our office has shifted to more partial and work-from-home positions. The company announced that in six weeks, it is moving to a smaller location that is 45 minutes away. Is it reasonable for the company to move this far away with such little notice? – Warren
Taylor.: Although six weeks may be a relatively short period, it isn’t unheard of. Your employer may be facing business decisions that do not allow for more notice. COVID-19 continues to impact workplace decisions as employers are adapting to a changing business landscape. While such swift change probably isn’t ideal for your employer, I can definitely understand how stressful this must be for you and your colleagues as well.
If you prefer to remain with your current employer, you may have a few options. Ask if you can work remotely on a full-time basis. Since the new facility is smaller, your employer may be open to full-time remote work. Now, if the relocation stems from economic factors, and you are willing and able to move, you could ask if the company is offering any type of relocation assistance.
However, if these aren’t viable options and the commute would be overly burdensome, you may want to look for job opportunities in your area. While this may not be your preferred choice, in today’s competitive market many understaffed businesses are looking for help. So, if you must enter the job market, this is a good time to do so.
I’ll leave you with this, from an employer’s perspective, many understand and accept the office relocation often results in turnovers. To help both you and your employer, your supervisor may be willing to work with you on a transition plan which allows you to continue working while you search for a new job.
In whatever decision you make, I wish you the best of luck!