A man and woman sitting at opposite ends of a table in an office meeting room for a job interview.

Image source: Getty Images

There may come a point in your life when you want to return to the workforce after being out of it for quite some time. Maybe you took an extended career break to raise kids, but now that they’re older, you want to start working again. Or maybe you retired and aren’t happy with the rate at which you’re spending down your IRA, so you’re hoping to work part time to generate some income.

No matter your motivation for returning to the labor force, doing so can be daunting. But worry not; financial expert Suze Orman shared some great advice for going back to work on her blog, and it pays to take it to heart in the course of your new job search.

1. Own your history

Many people who try to get back into the workforce after an extended break approach that situation with shame — meaning, they’re sheepish about having taken time off and feel the need to make excuses for why they dropped out of the labor force when they did. Orman says this is something you shouldn’t do. Rather, you should own your history and be honest about why you took a career break.

As she says, “Don’t be ashamed to tell them the truth about why you need this job, why you want this job…And the reason that you haven’t worked for X amount of years or whatever it may be, just tell them the truth about your situation.”

Say you took five years off from your career to raise young kids. When you go in for job interviews, say so. Don’t make excuses. Rather, simply say that taking that break was the right choice for you, but that you’re ready to dive back in.

“When you are ashamed of what has happened to you,” says Orman, “What that says is you are ashamed of who you are. And there’s no reason for you to be ashamed about anything that has happened in your life.”

2. Be a source of value

Your goal in going back to work may be to earn money, find something meaningful to do with your time, or a combination of both. But if it’s been a while since you’ve held down a job, you’ll need to be prepared to prove yourself. And that’s okay.

Furthermore, you may not end up commanding the largest salary initially while you’re in the process of proving yourself. But if you show your employer that you’re a true source of value, in time, you should be compensated accordingly.

As Orman says, “You are to make those that you are dependent upon a paycheck for dependent upon you. Do not go into a new job wanting X amount of money. Go into a new job absolutely proving to them how much they need you…Once they are dependent upon you and they see your value, oh you will get the pay raises and the job promotions that you deserve.”

3. Don’t just focus on money

The transition back into the labor force can be challenging, especially if you haven’t worked in quite some time. That’s why Orman says you shouldn’t focus solely on money when seeking out jobs. Rather, you should also aim for personal fulfillment.

“Go into a field where you want to be,” Orman insists. Doing so could make it so that going back to work is something you’re excited about, as opposed to a transition you’re dreading.

Getting back into the labor force after a lengthy break isn’t always easy — but it absolutely can be done. And to be clear, there’s no need to resign yourself to a low-end, low-paying job just because you took a workforce break. You may have to pay your dues at first, but in time, you may find that it’s easier than expected to work your way up to a fulfilling career.

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