Many people who have an adversity, whether visible or not, have difficulty finding and interviewing for the right job. Thankfully, there are millions of free resources on the internet and there are many subject matter experts who will help for a fee. Some of the experts are better than others just as some of the free resources are better than others. There are also many colleges, universities, and trade schools that can help, sometimes free or for a small fee.
The process of returning to work after an adversity can be as complicated as you want to make it, but there are essentially four parts.
1. Defining Your Interest
Caution: Defining your interest does not mean employers will be interested in you. There may be a huge gap between your interests and the reality of the job market.
For those who recognize “interest” is not the same as “reality,” search the internet for the term “career interest survey.” Several tests I found were based on the same questions and resulted in similar answers. Some tests provided better instructions than others. Most importantly, some of the summaries that felt right, others did not.
I like the Princeton Review career interest quiz even though the summary was not a perfect match with how I perceive myself. How you view yourself may be different than how others view you. The test is short, free, and revealing, even if the summary is not perfect.
Defining your interest is just a small piece of the employment puzzle.
2. Researching Your Interest
Regardless of what career or industry interests you, there is a lot of information about your interests online. However, you will most likely need to contact employers and employees, read industry magazines or journals, and attend industry conferences or webinars to develop a better understanding of what employees do in the careers and industries that interest you. If you are not willing to do the research, the industry you chose may not be right for you. Strangers will help you, but you need to find them and you need to ask politely for their help. LinkedIn is a great source of information.
3. Emphasizing Your Skills
For many people, this is the most difficult part of the process. A resume is not a ten-page document listing everything you have done in life since the lemonade stand you started when you were four years old. Each resume you write must be tailored to the company, career, and industry. It should also be as personal as possible. If possible, talk with someone in the Human Resources department before you submit a resume or any other document.
Some experts believe a resume is no longer the best approach. When I searched the internet for “alternative to a resume,” Google returned more than 140 million results. Perhaps, one of the results sparks your imagination.
If writing about your accomplishments is not one of your strengths, ask an expert for help. I did, and it was one of the best investments I ever made.
4. Preparing for an Interview
Friends, family members, and cell phones may help with this process, but do not discount the benefit of joining professional groups like Toastmasters International many months before an interview to learn how your words, movement, gestures, and eye contact are perceived by those who pay attention. Use your cell phone or other device to create a video of how you respond to practice interview questions. What you learn from the video will be shocking.