Re-entering the workforce: do's and don'ts

Obtaining a competitive position in the finance world is hard even after you've just finished your education. However, the task can be even harder if you're re-entering the workforce after a long break. No matter why you had to take a hiatus from employment, it's possible that hiring managers will find themselves skeptical due to the gap in your history. As a result, you'll have to work even harder than your peers in order to gain employment in the field, whether you're looking to start from the bottom or apply for high-pressure positions such as financial analyst jobs

"When you're trying to re-enter the workforce, you're introducing yourself to a world of people who don't know you and don't inherently 'get' you," Matt Bermdt, a campus career coach, told Yahoo! Finance. "So, your job is to make them understand who you are, what you have to offer, and what you're looking for."

Coming out of a period of unemployment may be even harder now than ever before – especially if you're on the hunt for sought-after finance careers, like venture capital jobs, or positions that are currently paying high salaries, such as technology jobs. So here's a number of tips you should keep in mind while building your resume, applying for positions and making your way back toward the workforce. 

Do: be proactive about booking interviews
When you're coming out of a lapse in employment, you can't take interviews for granted. Most financial firms are focused on hiring individuals straight out of college or graduate school, and many more focus a large percentage of their hiring practices toward individuals who have recently taken part in internship programs.

For this reason, an individual re-entering the workforce may have to work harder to obtain an interview than a younger worker with lesser experience. So don't be afraid to be as proactive about booking interviews as you are about applying for positions. You could send follow-up emails to the hiring manager, contact the business via phone or make any other communicative attempts. It's just important that you realize a resume and a cover letter alone may not always be enough to get you into a room with a hiring manager. 

Don't: indiscriminately apply for every job available
At the same time, you should not be attempting to book a massive amount of interviews. If you're re-entering the workforce after a lapse in employment, it's fair to assume that you have work experience dating back before your period of unemployment. You should work hard to optimize that experience.

You also have an advantage over the younger applicants you'll be competing with for jobs: you've proven yourself in the workplace already. Yet that won't be clear if you're applying for jobs that aren't tied into your prior work experience – doing that will only make it seem like you're trying to restart your career from scratch. 

Do: draw attention away from your employment gap
As mentioned, hiring managers will always ask about the gap in your employment. It's easy to get hung up on explaining why you haven't been working during interviews – but this will do nothing to convince the hiring manager that you're a good fit for the career in finance you're applying for. 

Instead, when asked about your employment gap, speak about how your skills are just as valuable now as they were before you left the workforce. You should use this opportunity to stress the advantages you can offer and the skills you've maintained, not to make excuses for why you've been unemployed. 

Don't: pretend the lapse in employment didn't occur
At the same time, you don't want to look like you're trying to "cover up" the fact that there's been a lapse in employment. So when interviewing for jobs, you should mention what you've done, outside of regular work, to keep yourself busy while you've been away from the workforce.

It doesn't even matter what you've specifically been doing: for example, you could tell the manager about volunteer work you've completed, or education courses you've taken or anything else you've done to fill your time. The point is simply to illustrate that you haven't remained idle during the lapse – you want them to feel like you've still been working as hard as ever. 

Do: network as much as possible
There's another advantage you're afforded if you have more work experience than most of the individuals you're competing with for jobs: you have more networking opportunities. If you're coming out of unemployment, it's time to pull out your old Rolodex and start contacting all your old business partners and colleagues. Some of these individuals may even book interviews with you on the spot!

When you're coming out of a period of unemployment and applying for finance positions, you have to work harder than most of your peers. Yet if you follow these techniques, you'll be sure to find your dream job soon enough.