Returning to the Workforce?

Many reasons can cause you to return to the workforce: suddenly needing to transition into the role of wage earner, losing your retirement funds, returning from a mission, recovering from an illness or injury, returning from caring for an ill family member, needing supplemental income, recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction, becoming an empty nester, starting over after prison, or picking up after being laid off or fired.

Whatever your reason, the workforce can use you and your skills and talents. You can be valuable to many companies.

Regardless of whether you have been away from the workforce for 30 days or 30 years, you can apply the principles of job seeking to your job search and successfully find work. Employment Resource Services and Self-Reliance Centers teach these job-searching principles in a free class called the Career Workshop. The class can help you gain confidence, create a support group, and direct you through the process of finding employment.

Starting to look for work can feel overwhelming, daunting, and even depressing. To help you, Employment Resource Services has gathered resources and tips to help guide you through the process. Below are some common concerns  and suggestions for those returning to the workforce:

How Can I Care for My Children and Make a Living?

You may be a single parent, widowed, going through a divorce, or returning to work to help pay family finances. It can be draining to care for your children and pay the bills, but Heavenly Father can help you fulfill your responsibilities.

Before you begin looking for work, identify your family’s emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual needs. Prayerfully counsel with the Lord about your specific circumstances. Remember to continue to include the Lord in your job search.

Attend the Career Workshop. As part of the workshop, create a plan and backup plans for days that your children may need to stay home sick from school, how you will handle emergencies, and how you will coordinate getting your children to and from school. The workshop will help you identify your resources and make these plans.

Talk to everyone about your job search. Network with working parents who are in similar circumstances. Create a support group for yourself and find a mentor.

Be realistic about the amount of work you can take on. If you are concerned about how you will carry your new load, you may consider taking a volunteer or part-time position before you move on to full-time employment. This can prepare your body for the physical and emotional demands of working and caring for your children. You may consider counseling with your bishop or Relief Society or quorum leader for help and direction on how to accomplish all of your responsibilities.

Once you have a job, establish a schedule with your children that can provide them with a sense of stability and support.

  • Talk with your children about your plans and backup plans.
  • Continue to have one-on-one time with each of your children.
  • Have family prayers.
  • Make time for family home evening.
  • Try to eat at least one meal with your children each day.


I Am Not Skilled Enough or the Industry Has Changed

After being away from the workforce, you may feel that your skills have weakened or that you need to learn new things. Whether you feel you need to brush up on your abilities or acquire a new skill set, the Career Workshop can help you recognize the marketable skills and talents you have. It can also help you set goals and make a concrete plan of how to get more education or training if you need it.

Look at what you have. Even though you may not have been working in the workforce, you still have marketable skills and abilities. In the time that you have not been working, you have been strengthening yourself in other ways (such as time management and problem solving). Many of these skills are transferable. Consider the skills, talents, and abilities you have gained or improved while you have been away from the workforce. Reflect on how those things have helped you to achieve specific accomplishments. Think about how these skills could help you in your new job. Be proud of the skills and talents you possess.

Sharpen your skills and talents. If you need to refresh your skills or learn new skills, you may consider taking a training course, enrolling in classes, or volunteering for the company. Sharpening your skills does not necessarily mean going back to school. Assess what your skill level is now and where you would like it to be. Employment Resource Services or Self-Reliance Services can help you identify resources in your ward and community that can help you bring your skills to the level you desire. 

Who Will Hire Me with My Bad Work History?

Perhaps you have large gaps between jobs, have changed jobs frequently, have had attendance trouble, have been incarcerated, have left your previous job on bad terms, or have had substance-abuse trouble. Many things can reflect negatively on your work history, but these things do not have to stop you from getting a job. Meet with an Employment Resource Services or Self-Reliance Services staff member or job coach. Prepare a short statement you can share with a potential employer that can explain your circumstances. Be honest but try to create a statement that can leave a potential employer with a good impression of you.

If you are still trying to resolve those things that are making your work history look bad, consider what resources can help you. The Career Workshop can help you identify resources in your ward and community. The workshop can also help you prepare plans and backup plans to help you overcome your obstacles.

Ask everyone you meet if they know of any job openings or anyone who may be able to help you in your job search. Talk to people about your work interests and strengths. Discuss your networking experiences with your mentor or a staff member from Employment Resource Services or Self-Reliance Services.

Potential Employers Are Going to Think I Am Too Old

Consider the reasons you are returning to the workforce. Do you have extra time? Are you an empty nester? Have you lost your retirement? Or do you need supplemental income?

Assess your abilities and restrictions. Realistically determine the working conditions you need to succeed. Think about how your abilities, skills, talents, and experience can help you to succeed in a work setting with those conditions. Look for a job that can allow you to use your strengths. As you talk to potential employers, market those strengths.

Many countries have legislation to protect you against age discrimination. Be aware of the laws in your area. Even with laws in place, employers can still find ways to get around hiring older employees. Before you begin interviewing, talk to a job coach, your ward employment specialist, or a staff member from Employment Resource Services or Self-Reliance Services about how you can resolve potential employers’ concerns. Plan how you will respond to a potential employer’s concerns if he or she thinks you might not understand technology, are overqualified, or might not get along with a supervisor or boss who is younger than you are.

Maintain a positive attitude about your age and abilities. While some employers may feel that older people are not valuable workers, others feel just the opposite. 

I Have Poor Health

Assess your current abilities and restrictions. As you consider going back to work, be realistic about what you can handle. Determine what abilities and restrictions you have. If needed, consult a doctor about what responsibilities you can handle safely. Talk with your job coach or a member of the Employment Resource Services or Self-Reliance Services staff to determine the best way for you to handle your health concerns with an employer.

Reassess your responsibilities. If you are returning to the same company after an illness or injury, you may need to reassess your work responsibilities. If you are still recovering and are unable to take on all of your tasks when you start to work, talk to your employer about increasing your responsibilities as your health improves. Keep your employer informed about your progress.

Find new employment. If you need to find a new job, think about what types of jobs you can do that will allow you to use the skills and training you already have. 

How Should I Explain My Mission to a Potential Employer Who is Not a Member of the Church?

Serving a mission can be a good way to gain leadership skills, a good work ethic, interpersonal skills, studying skills, and supervisory skills. If you include your missionary service on your résumé or curriculum vitae, make sure the information you share applies to the job description. Explain your service and experience in terms that a potential employer will understand. You can refer to your title as a full-time volunteer, missionary, or representative. If you choose to include your mission on your résumé or curriculum vitae, put it under the heading for experience or volunteer experience. 


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