For Those Returning to Work
You may have taken a hiatus from the work force because you wanted to stay home with your children or because you needed to take care of a sick relative. Regardless of the reason you left the work force, starting a job search when you decide to return won't be simple.
Same Career or New One
Before you do anything else, you have to decide if you want to continue with the career you had prior to leaving the work force. Did you enjoy the work you did? Will work in this field be compatible with your lifestyle, which may have changed since you last had a full-time job? Has the field changed? Is it a good one to be in right now, or have job and advancement opportunities dried up? Are your skills up to date?
If you are about to take a hiatus from work and plan to re-enter the field later on, stay informed of goings-on in that field during your absence. Read industry journals, keep in touch with former coworkers, and attend conferences if possible. If you are trying to re-enter the field right now and haven't kept on top of things, do some cramming. Go online and search for information. Call your former coworkers.
If you decide to move on to a different field of work, you need to pick one that is suitable for you. The realities of your life — for example, children who need you at home before a certain time — will have an influence on your choices. You may have to find a career that doesn't require late hours in the office or a lot of travel.
Using Your Transferable Skills
An absence from the work force often gives people the opportunity to develop new skills. For example, a parent with children in school may have participated in a parent teacher association. Someone else may have taken the time away from the work force to do volunteer work. Whatever it is you chose to do with your free time, figure out what skills you gained from those experiences. You may be able to use those transferable skills to demonstrate to a potential employer that you have what it takes to work for him.