by KIMBERLY KAUER
posted on OCTOBER 24, 2013
In a location where jobs are newly invented and career paths are constantly evolving, it’s hard to figure out how to jump back in after a few years off, or to know how to switch from one field to the next. Even with a strong network, best describing your skills on LinkedIn or figuring out the right position for your skill-set is tough. A first in it’s kind, day-long event in Silicon Valley next month aims to tackle all of the uncertainty and teach specific tools needed to take that next step. It’s not a day of sitting and listening, but a day of doing, as participants will be rewriting their resume, updating (or creating) their LinkedIn profile, assessing career options specific to them and their skills. Sometimes it takes outside, impartial experts to help identify your winning skills and help communicate them for a job search.
Silicon Valley moms are active volunteers, often leading school committees, school fundraising, organizing activities and more, but because the work was unpaid doesn’t mean it’s less valuable. Paid or not, it’s utilizing leadership and organizational skills needed in the workplace, yet those activities get left off resumes or LinkedIn. Johanna Wise, who is the force behind the Return to Work Conference, wants those volunteer skills turned into talking points to help land a job.
Johanna experienced the difficulty of a return to the work world first hand after she took off time to raise her two children. While she learned valuable lessons on what works and what doesn’t, the one day conference is much more than her story. She’s bringing in experts who she found along the way, people who are talented at helping others distill their skills and identify where those cross with specific careers. People who know social media marketing, who know how to help people reconnect professionally and grow a network, and who understand how to successfully navigate a career transition. Participants will leave with tangible tools, an action plan, and a network that won’t end when the day does. She plans to keep participants in contact, possibly by geography or particular field, to help encourage their successful transitions.
Much of what Johanna addresses has been raised in conversations with other moms. Once that youngest kid enters full-day school, conversations naturally turn to what to do with that time (which is funny because any mom knows time gets filled no matter how open a schedule). Recently, a mom at my kids’ school asked to have the titles of volunteer positions changed to have them reflect the leadership skills needed to perform the job. It was a simple request, easy to meet, that suddenly made the job of say a class parent, to something that could be put on a resume. When volunteer duties are spelled out, suddenly those gap years on a resume fade away.
If you’re considering a return to work or are struggling with take off or a career pivot, the Return to Work Conference is Nov. 6 in Redwood City at NestGSV (not only hosted in a startup hub, but there will be a chance to network with some of those innovators).