Whether you've been on parental leave, taken time off for personal reasons, or pursued further education, returning to work can be a daunting task. The good news is that LinkedIn can be your secret weapon to ease the transition and open doors to exciting opportunities. We'll walk you through how to use LinkedIn effectively to help you on your return to work.
Is it okay to put your career break on LinkedIn?
Before we delve into the ways you can use LinkedIn for your journey back to work, let’s address the elephant in the room. Is it okay to put your career break on LinkedIn? Of course it is! In fact, being transparent about career gaps can demonstrate honesty and authenticity. You can add the career break as a separate job entry on your LinkedIn profile, similar to how you would list any other job. Alternatively, we highly recommend you even use the LinkedIn Career Break feature!
8 Ways to use LinkedIn for your return to work
LinkedIn can be a powerful ally for those returning to work after a career break. By optimising your LinkedIn profile to highlight your skills and experiences, actively networking with professionals in your industry, sharing valuable content, and utilising its job search and research features, you can effectively reintegrate into the workforce, reconnect with colleagues, and discover exciting job opportunities.
- Assess the professional landscape
- Make a good impression with a strong LinkedIn profile
- Work on your networking strategies
- Content creation and sharing
- Showcase your skills and projects
- Begin your job search and applications
- Prepare for interviews
- Build your confidence
1. Assess the professional landscape
Embarking on the path of returning to work involves a deeply personal journey of self-discovery. It begins with a profound examination of your career goals and motivations. Take time to understand why you're returning and what aspirations drive you forward; this "why" will serve as the cornerstone of your LinkedIn strategy.
You’ll need to delve into identifying your strengths, skills, and interests. Reflect upon your past achievements and consider the new skills you've acquired during your career hiatus. Compile a comprehensive list that will serve as a compelling testament to your abilities when showcased on your LinkedIn profile. Finally, craft a succinct yet impactful personal brand statement. This statement encapsulates your professional identity and the unique value you bring to prospective employers, forming the bedrock upon which your LinkedIn presence will thrive.
2. Make a good impression with a strong LinkedIn profile
Your LinkedIn profile is the digital equivalent of a first impression, so make it count. Start by investing in a professional profile picture that radiates confidence; it's the first step in setting the tone for your online presence. If you’d rather take your headshot at home, just make sure that you’re using good lighting, a plain background, and good image quality!
Next, you’ll need to craft your headline. Your headline should go beyond merely stating your job title; instead, use this space to spotlight your unique value proposition or career objectives, capturing the essence of what makes you stand out. When crafting your summary, don't hesitate to share your career journey, including your time away, and your aspirations. Make it relatable and engaging, offering a glimpse into your professional world. Additionally, in the skills section, list competencies that align with your target job, and remember to seek endorsements from colleagues and former managers.
Finally, when showcasing your work history and experience, embrace honesty about any career gaps, framing them positively by emphasising the skills you've developed during your time off. These steps will help you create a compelling and authentic LinkedIn profile that shines brightly to potential employers and connections.
3. Work on your networking strategies
Building and expanding your LinkedIn network is a crucial step in your return-to-work journey. Connect with colleagues, alumni, and industry peers to broaden your professional circle; networking is a powerful tool in your job search arsenal.
Engage with your connections through thoughtful messages and personalised connection requests, as nurturing relationships takes effort. Joining and actively participating in relevant LinkedIn groups related to your industry or interests is an excellent way to establish your online presence and engage in meaningful discussions.
Additionally, utilise the "Follow" feature to stay informed and inspired by industry influencers and thought leaders. Lastly, attending virtual events and webinars ensures you remain up-to-date with industry trends, fostering your knowledge and professional growth.
4. Content creation and sharing
Elevating your LinkedIn presence means actively engaging with your professional community. Start by sharing industry-related articles, trends, and news to showcase your knowledge and engagement within your field. Take it a step further by publishing original articles and blog posts, offering valuable insights and cementing your expertise.
Don't overlook the power of multimedia content; use photos, videos, and infographics to vividly illustrate your work and projects, capturing the attention of your network. Effective hashtag use amplifies your reach, increasing post visibility. Lastly, build connections by leaving thoughtful comments on others' content, fostering meaningful conversations with fellow professionals.
5. Showcase your skills and projects
Enhance your LinkedIn profile by creating a dedicated "Projects" section. Here, you can shine a spotlight on your side projects, volunteer work, or personal initiatives to underline your commitment. Don't forget to mention volunteer efforts and side projects throughout your profile, emphasising the skills and dedication you've invested. Share success stories and past achievements, vividly illustrating how you've contributed value in previous roles. This will really stand out to potential employers and demonstrate the value you have to bring from your career break.
6. Begin your job search and applications
LinkedIn can be an excellent tool for finding job listings and making applications. We recommend leveraging LinkedIn's job search to discover roles aligned with your skills and interests. Make sure to customise your applications and resumes for each position, emphasising relevant experiences. Show genuine interest by following and engaging with target companies.
The ‘Easy Apply’ feature can help streamline the process and enables you to maintain organisation by tracking your job applications and interactions within the platform. This time-saving feature can be especially useful for returners with busy lives, such as working mums or carers.
7. Prepare for interviews
LinkedIn can also help you prepare for job interviews in a number of ways. For one, LinkedIn offers valuable tools for researching potential employers. You can investigate company profiles to learn about their culture and values. Connect with current or former employees for firsthand insights into the organisation's dynamics and hiring procedures. This will help you answer any questions related to why you want to work at the business or enable you to better understand how you can apply your skills in the workplace.
Based on your research, it can be a good idea to create a list of potential interview questions and practise your responses. This will help you feel more confident and prepared during the interview.
8. Build your confidence
LinkedIn can not only help you feel confident for your interviews, but help you build confidence overall professionally. It acts as a platform to document and showcase your career journey, reaffirming your skills and experiences. Through active engagement with industry peers and thought leaders, you can stay updated on current trends, fostering a sense of industry relevance. Additionally, the networking opportunities on LinkedIn provide a supportive community that can offer guidance, insights, and even potential job referrals. As you build a strong LinkedIn presence, you'll gain a tangible sense of professional identity and a network of connections that can bolster your confidence and empower you in your return-to-work journey.
How can FDM help you?
At FDM, we have experience helping returners make the transition back to work. Whether you’ve taken a year off work or 20 years, our Returners Programme is designed to give you the training, support, and opportunities you deserve to get back on your feet and restart your successful career.