Career Report
July, 2009 — Issue 113

Guidance for a Workforce Re-entry

If you’ve been unemployed for awhile and have finally found a job, you’re likely to be thrilled at first–but anxiety can often follow that excitement. Indeed, starting any new job is hard work, and coming back to work after a long layoff can be even harder. Most importantly, you’ll need to re-establish a routine, refresh your skills and rebuild your confidence. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, here are some ways to make a workforce re-entry a successful one:

  • Strengthen your skills and knowledge. Read industry blogs and trade publications to get current on news and trends. Pay attention to what skills seem most in demand—if your expertise is out of date, look for ways to bone up. Ask your new boss to describe your duties as specifically as possible to determine where you may need to improve, said Roy Cohen, a New York executive coach and career counselor. One of his clients, a risk manager, bought software to learn new ways to evaluate credit decisions before he started a new job. “Always ask your supervisor if there’s any research you should be doing, materials that would be helpful, people you should be talking to,” Cohen said. “Businesses don’t have much tolerance for a learning curve.”
  • Get back into a routine. If you’ve grown accustomed to calling the couch your office and pajamas your work attire, shift into a work routine a couple of weeks before your first day. Do a test run of how long it will take you to shower and drive to your new office.
  • Be prepared for emotional volatility. It’s hard to be the new kid on the block, especially if your self-confidence took a hit during unemployment, said Barbara LaRock, a Reston, Va., career coach. “Natural introverts will feel especially drained after their first few weeks on a job after a layoff,” LaRock told the newspaper.
  • Decide how to handle questions about your layoff. Your new co-workers may ask about your work history, so your layoff will probably come up. “You don’t want to bare your soul or sound too bitter,” said Linda Dominguez, a Los Angeles executive coach. “But you also don’t want to keep it a secret.” Nowadays, most co-workers won’t raise their eyebrows if you tell them you were laid off, Dominguez said. You can simply tell them where you worked, explain that you got caught in a round of restructuring and that your job was one of many cut.
  • Start rebuilding your office network. Find out who the most influential people are in the office, and who can help get things done. Become a keen observer and networker. See who leads team meetings and commands attention in the office. Ask your supervisor to make introductions and ask colleagues who is helpful. Have lunch as often as you can with co-workers, especially when you first start,” said Lori Davilla, an Atlanta executive coach. “Discovering those key contacts means you can get up to speed quicker than anyone else,” she added.
  • Don’t make the same mistake twice.Your layoff may have been your fault, but it is worth assessing whether your own behavior made you vulnerable. “I was working with a client who was overly chatty at work, and it created the impression that he wasn’t busy enough,” said Cohen. “Even though he was still productive, he addressed that behavior after his layoff.”

News from BLK

BLK’s FREE Job-Seeker Interactive Webinar series continues to draw large numbers of participants. Provided as a community service, our bi-weekly webinars cover various topics of interest to those on the job market, from phone interviewing, to resume-writing to networking techniques. To register for upcoming webinars or listen to any in our archived group, please visit and follow the links in the “Coaching” section. We welcome and encourage your participation!

Berman Larson Kane reminds its clients that we have very talented interim consultants available for long term and short term assignments. This service will allow your corporation to ease into increasing staff headcount without committing to long term hires — a great way to ease into the upcoming recovery or staff a temporary skill gap. For additional details contact Bob Larson, CPC 201-556-2887 or