When it comes to returning to the workforce, many job seekers ask the same thing: “How do I stand out?” While you can and should practice telling your story, consider that to be just one piece of your return-to-work strategy. Showcasing your skills online, rather than just talking about them, is a great way to create a compelling case for yourself.
Creating and curating online content gives your skills new life outside of your resume and cover letter. There are endless online outlets for academics, technologists, creatives and anyone looking to showcase their expertise. Linking to your content can serve as means for the employer to get to know what you’re capable of at every stage of the hiring process. Tech recruiters will certainly look at open-source projects linked in your resume, as well. (Just make sure your work is error-free!)
If you feel your portfolio is a bit dated, or not relevant enough for the field you’re trying to pivot into, consider content creation as a tool to ramp up your restart. What better way to familiarize–or re-familiarize–yourself with a topic than researching and expressing ideas about it? Show employers that you have kept current by analyzing recent trends, product releases, or industry practices. The soft skills required to create and keep your content afloat will not go unnoticed and can put you in a more advantageous position. After all, it’s never been easier:
GitHub is a free development platform and repository for code. You can create and host your programming projects and share as you see fit. If you share your GitHub profile on your resume, note that hiring managers often look for an active and well-maintained profile filled with a variety of projects. If you have a project that shows off skills that are relevant to a specific role, you can choose to link to it instead of sharing your entire profile.
2. Stack Overflow
Stack Overflow describes themselves as “an open community for anyone that codes.” Like GitHub, you can exchange ideas and knowledge with others for free. By answering questions and communicating with others, you gain a “reputation” that, if favorable enough, can be listed on a resume to impress your future employer–plus, Stack Overflow lists job opportunities by specialty!
3. Start a YouTube channel
Start a YouTube channel to share your opinions on advances in your industry or create tutorials for things you know how to do well. From narrating over a screen as you work to detailing your thoughts on a topic directly to the camera, talking about projects or companies you’re interested in is great practice for video interviews and future conversations with employers. As an added bonus, YouTube is a great learning platform. You can find tutorials and “how-to” videos for nearly everything under the sun, which may come in handy as you work to close some skill gaps after a break.
4. Start a podcast
If you’re not quite camera ready–or if your topic doesn’t lend itself to the video format–a podcast is a great alternative. You still get the practice of researching, analyzing, and presenting with industry lingo. And, if you plan to have other industry experts join your podcast as a guest, you’ll get great practice in networking as well.
5. Maintain a blog
You can use sites like LinkedIn Articles, Medium, or countless others to share more long-form written articles or reviews. Writing a structured blog will help you organize your thoughts, plan ahead and learn as you go. Just as with a podcast or YouTube channel, the key is getting comfortable sharing your insights into your industry and considering new ideas to ramp up to where you want to be.
6. Create a website
If your writings, videos and projects become extensive and could benefit from organization, WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix are great options to build your dynamic website. Free and low-cost options are available. Hiring managers will definitely check your site to learn more about you. Who knows? It may be the thing that seals the deal.
Whichever platform you choose–or if you’re not quite ready to develop your content–make sure to connect with others! Consider following experts in your field on various social media and networking platforms. You can even build a network by reviewing others’ work and even collaborating on projects. If you see an interesting article in your LinkedIn feed and you have something of value to add to the conversation, don’t be shy! Share your findings, and interact with others in your field. It never hurts to link to your projects, articles or portfolio.
Your determination to return to the workforce speaks volumes, and only you know how to use your voice. By showing off your work, your next role may be closer than you think!
Melyssa Muro is a content writer and program coordinator at Path Forward.
Originally published October 2020.