A candidate should consider applying if there is a reasonable explanation for considering the adjustment. An example of this would be if an attorney is 7 years out of law school, but left law to go into business as a solo for two years, then wants to return to a firm environment (possibly due to feeling isolated or for a better support system). It might be reasonable to be presented as a professional with five years of experience in a company environment. The employer might consider this valid, as training and environment in large companies is often valued differently than with small firms or solo shops. Many other types of businesses will consider candidates by tiers, according to skills set, experience and education. For example, in our modern world, technology skills are often critical and an employer should be convinced that your skills are up-to-date.
One area where women are, unfortunately, often at a disadvantage is when they’ve taken several years off to raise children. Returning to the job force is extremely difficult, and their previous level of expertise is often devalued or considered deficient because they’ve interrupted their careers and not evolved with the profession. One way to try to overcome this challenge is by working from a virtual home office, however, this may defeat the woman’s original intention and be impractical.
The key is to be able to justify the employer’s consideration. If a candidate is confident that he/she can do so, then “presentation” is the next hurdle to overcome.
For a job seeker to assure potential employers that they can adjust to the role and be a good fit, they should:
- Prepare a succinct cover letter that emphasizes why you are interested in this position and how your skills can benefit this specific company.
- Work with a professional to ensure that your resume is spot-on: form, experience, skills required for the job. This is particularly important since many companies today use online applicant tracking systems to review candidates electronically – many resumes are automatically eliminated during the screening process if they don’t contain the relevant “buzzwords”. Caution – it’s important to sound genuine, as well as to be honest, in your representations.
- Present your industry knowledge and transferrable skills clearly and concisely to the employer, with specific examples of situations where you were successful. These examples should be relevant to the potential employer’s business, goals and culture. Quantify your successes or accomplishments, where possible. If presented with the opportunity to interview, preparation and presentation is crucial, and must be consistent with your written application.