With the right attitude, returning to work following divorce can be an adventure. As you plan for your grand reentrance to the workplace, you may already be eagerly anticipating holding that Styrofoam coffee cup in your hand and excitedly be looking forward to the morning commute you once dreaded.
Whether or not you are going back to doing what you know or embarking on an entirely new career, you are ready to take the world by storm. After all, you were a force to be reckoned with back in the day. Or perhaps your potential was never realized and now is your time to shine.
It only makes sense that employers should be lining up at your feet, waiting to offer you your dream job, right?
Unfortunately, that is not usually the case, particularly in a tough job market. Competition is fierce and, regardless of your field, landing an interview is no easy task.
When you do, it is important to remember that meeting face-to-face is only half the battle. Regardless of skill level, how well you market YOU – the person with whom your colleagues will potentially be working alongside – may mean a Donald Trump-like “You’re hired!” versus being passed over for someone else, perhaps another candidate equally or, as unconscionable as it might sound, less qualified than yourself.
Being the person others will enjoy working with is a talent as, if not more, important than your skill set. How well you are able to play with others is what will ultimately take you from being another name on a one-dimensional résumé to a valued employee. For the true you to come through, what you leave behind is actually more important than what you bring to the first meeting. Here are five things you need to leave at the door to get in the door and finally realize the professional success you were meant to achieve.
1. Ego. Self-confidence is a must. There is a reason why an entire industry is devoted to building and instilling assertiveness in the workplace. But, like everything else, too much of a good thing can also do harm. When ego overtakes humility, problems inevitably arise. No matter who you are (or think you are), what your education level is, or how much expertise and experience you have, you must be willing to learn from others. A productive employee is one who grows with the job. Show your prospective employer that although you are capable of taking the ball and running with it, you are also ready, willing, and able to work cooperatively with others and be a team player.
2. Unrealistic Expectations. Picking up exactly where you left off on your career path is not always an option. The longer the time spent away, the harder it is to get back. Skills become outdated, accreditations lapse, and industries change. Though you may expect to mosey on over to the office as if it was only yesterday you were there, understanding that those years spent at home may have set you back. Unfair? That all depends on your perspective. Everyone makes sacrifices – the woman who put off having children to focus on her career, the woman who stayed home to raise her children and put her career on hold, and the woman who juggled both work and parenting in an effort to keep up professionally.
The good news is you, too, can realize your goals. It goes without saying that you will have your work cut out for you, and catching up will not be easy. Recognizing that you can have it all but not all at once will relieve you of a lot of unnecessary pressure and frustration.
3. Old Habits. As Bob Dylan said, “The times they are a-changin,’” and they were changing the whole time you were away. That means those skills you perfected long ago may now be obsolete or outdated. You may need to retrain in order to perform the job you once knew, or reacquaint yourself with an industry that looks only vaguely familiar.
In any new job it is also important to perform in the manner requested by your new employer. Though your former employer may have used different methodologies and procedures, ones with which you may already be comfortable, keep in mind that, like the marriage you left behind, the past is in the past. To beat a dead horse, Let It Go!
4. Personal Problems. Everyone has them, including the person speaking to you from the other side of the desk. And since you are likely not privy to what makes someone else tick, it is best to steer clear of those more controversial topics. Your problems are your own. You are there for one purpose and one purpose only – to do your job and to do it well. Guaranteed, your issues will be waiting for you as soon as you leave work at the end of the day.
5. Insecurities. Returning to work after time away can be intimidating. It’s understandable that, at times, you may feel discouraged or inferior to those you believe more capable. Keep in mind, though, that everyone’s past, including yours, is filled with successes, employment and otherwise. True, you may have been out of the game for a while. But that was merely a time out, not an early retirement. Now, time’s up. So, get back out there, show ‘em what you’re made of, and don’t allow that door you worked so hard to open close behind you.