Finding yourself out of work can be stressful. Not only are there bills to pay, but it can also seem that your career growth has come to an unwanted halt. You’re supposed to be going from one promotion to the next, right? Where did it all go wrong?
But wait—that type of negative self-talk won’t get you anywhere. Career setbacks happen to everyone. What matters is how you respond. You’re still the talented, capable person you were when you had your last job—and your career can pick up where it left off.
Wondering how to stay rehireable and/or improve your hireability?
Take some time to survey your options. Is there a chance you could work for a former employer? This could be a great way to get back on your feet—unless you’re not eligible for rehire, that is.
Even if a former employer can’t rehire you, there are plenty of other fish in the sea. Maybe you’ll find full-time work, or perhaps you’ll opt for gig work that increases your flexibility. The opportunities are endless.
As you plot your next moves, stay on the lookout for ways to improve your hireability. Have a chance to grow your network? Go for it. See an opportunity to add to your skills? Take it. These are the moves that will strengthen your resume—and help you get back into the workforce.
Table of Contents:
- Check your rehire eligibility
- Develop your personal skills
- Maintain your professional skills
- Impress people with your work ethic
- Keep growing your professional development
Let’s dive in!
Check your rehire eligibility
Are you interested in returning to work for a former employer? Well, first you’ll have to make sure you’re rehireable. Otherwise, you won’t stand a chance
What does it mean to be rehireable? The key is that prefix “re-.”
The definition of “rehireable” is “eligible to be hired by a former employer.” That means you’ll only be rehired if you meet certain criteria.
Before applying to work with a former employer, it’s worth doing some digging to see if you’re rehireable. That will save you from wasting time and energy sending an application to a company that you’re not even eligible to work for.
Each employer sets their own rehire policy for determining whether a former employee can come back to work.
Common reasons you can’t be rehired are:
- A broken contract. If you did something you promised not to do, that could keep a former employer from taking you back.
- Poor performance record. Did you consistently fail to hit expected performance metrics? If so, you might not be eligible to work for the employer again.
- Failure to provide adequate notice before leaving the first time. When you quit a job, the standard etiquette is to let your employer know 2 weeks ahead of time. If you didn’t do that, your old employer is likely to hold it against you.
- You were “involuntarily dismissed.” Yes, that’s a euphemism for “you were fired.” When you get the sack, it’s unlikely you’ll be welcomed back.
- You engaged in “non-inclusive actions.” Were you reprimanded for how you treated your colleagues? If so, that could count against you if you’re trying to get rehired.
Whenever you’re working for a company, it’s worth remembering that even if you leave, you might want to come back someday. If you avoid doing the things described above, you’ll increase your job security—and protect your professional reputation.
How to check if you’re rehireable
To check if you’re rehireable, the easiest option–and the most obvious—is to simply ask. Get in touch with the company’s human resource department if they have one. Otherwise, just talk to whoever’s in charge. Nobody wants to waste time, so they’ll probably come right out and tell you if your application would run up against an eligibility issue.
You can also get in touch with your former colleagues and ask them to get a feel on the situation. Would they be willing to ask the manager about your chances—or at least drop your name in conversation, then gauge the manager’s response? This intel could be key as you determine whether or not you’re rehireable.
Develop your personal skills
Whether you’re looking to get rehired by a former employer or start somewhere new, you’ll increase your chances if you can develop your personal skills. Hireability comes down to what you can offer potential employers.
The equation is simple: More skills = greater hireability. Here are some specific areas to focus on.
Most jobs involve working with others, and that means communication skills are essential. As you look for your next gig, try to improve your:
- Listening. Pay attention when others are speaking—and show you’re following along with eye contact, nods, and gestures.
- Speaking. Try articulating your ideas as simply as you can.
- Clarity. Practice describing complex situations in a way anyone could understand.
- Confidence. Even if you’re an introvert by nature, look for places where you can speak up and participate in discussions. Eventually, this will give your confidence a boost.
- Writing. In emails and even personal journal entries, try to write your ideas in a way that’s accurate—but also concise.
Every industry needs people who can effectively solve problems. Whether you sit in a cubicle or stand on a warehouse floor, it’s worth improving in the following areas:
- Creativity. This could involve drawing, writing, playing music with friends—or anything that flexes your creative muscles.
- Critical thinking. Force yourself to think through problems logically—even everyday issues like what to buy at the grocery store.
Your career—like your non-work life—is sure to be full of surprises. You’ll have an easier time dealing with new work environments and unfamiliar dynamics if you actively practice adaptability. Look out for ways you can improve these particular skills:
- Flexibility. Try new things even if you think they could make you uncomfortable—then try to adapt to the situation at hand.
- Resilience. Quitting is sometimes the healthy option—but not always. Work on your grit by sticking with tasks or activities that have an obvious payoff at the end.
Maintain your professional skills
You’re smart, hardworking, and capable—but it’s on you to keep it that way. Professional skills allow you to stand out from other applicants by showing exactly what you could offer in the workplace. Maintaining these skills is a big part of maximizing your hireability.
Are you a graphic designer with an in-depth knowledge of the latest design programs? Can you operate every type of forklift known to humankind? Maintaining those skills—and even expanding on them—could be your ticket back into the workforce.
Here are some things to consider as you develop your technical skills:
- Keep learning and upgrading. Make sure you’re on top of all the newest technology, and keep your finger on the pulse of the industry so you’re familiar with the latest trends.
- Network with peers. Thanks to technology, things are changing fast in almost every industry. Staying in contact with peers will allow them to share their knowledge, keeping you “in the loop”—which is just where you want to be.
- Specialize in a specific field. If you can develop even more expertise in a particular niche, you’ll increase your marketability as a worker.
Project management skills
You become even more hireable when you can market yourself as a potential leader. The more you brush up on your management skills, the more confidently you can apply for leadership positions. Specific areas to focus on include:
- Organization. You’re engaged in a project as a job seeker: the project of finding a new job. Use spreadsheets, calendars, and other tools to help you with the process—then leverage these habits as you start in your new position.
- Planning. Try volunteering to lead social or educational activities—then practice bringing events from the planning stage to the execution stage.
Time management skills
Time is one of the most important resources at our disposal—and one that’s particularly hard to manage. Luckily, time management is something you can practice in your personal life, then apply in the workplace. Try working on:
- Prioritization. When your to-do list is too long, you need to know which items can be cut, and which should be prioritized.
- Efficiency. Once you’ve decided a task needs doing, learn how you can focus on it. Avoid needless multitasking, and find a routine that works for you.
Impress people with your work ethic
You need people to recognize that you’re a delightful person to work with. How do you do that? By demonstrating your work ethic.
Work ethic involves a lot more than effort. In fact, your work ethic can stand out even if you don’t clock a single extra hour of work. What matters is that you develop the qualities of a valuable teammate.
Collaboration is built upon trust—which means you need to become someone other people can count on. You can gain a reputation for dependability by developing these simple attributes:
- Reliability. Did you say you would do something? Then do it. It’s really that simple.
- Punctuality. Nobody likes to be left waiting—especially in a work-related endeavor. Time is money—and you don’t want to be wasteful with somebody else’s.
Positivity is truly contagious—and so is negativity. When you radiate a can-do attitude, people will notice their own feelings being lifted—and they’re likely to be grateful. A positive attitude is something you can actively cultivate by pursuing the following traits:
- Enthusiasm. Doing something you enjoy? Then do it with vigor! Doing something lame or boring? Remember the positive outcome you’re after—and use it for inspiration!
- Optimism. A positive outlook doesn’t always come easily—but there are ways to promote it. Try meditation, talking with optimistic friends, or simply remembering to be grateful for the little things.
We all know there are such things as “good” and “bad” teammates—and good teammates are much more hireable. To make yourself an effective teammate, try actively practicing these essential skills:
- Cooperation. No matter how brilliant you are, it’s important to let others have their say. Next time you’re in a collaborative setting—whether it’s in the workplace or the basketball court—try going along with other people’s ideas.
- Collaboration. Working with others requires striking a balance. Insist on doing everything, and you push your teammates away. Sit back, and you make them do all the work. Try to find that equilibrium in your personal and professional collaborations.
Keep growing your professional development
A gap in employment doesn’t have to mean a pause in your career growth. In fact, being out of work presents you with a great chance to take advantage of professional development opportunities. Every day you don’t go to work is a day you can continue working on yourself.
By making new connections, continuing your education, and building your personal brand, you can make the between-job period one of the most important stages in your career.
Not all professional relationships develop in the workplace. Being out of a job can open you up to a world of peers and potential mentors outside your previous sphere.
But remember—constructive relationships don’t build themselves. It’s on you to make them happen. Here are some networking strategies that will boost your hireability:
- Attending events. A quick online search should reveal events related to your industry—from conferences to skills-based workshops. Not only are these events informative, but they’re also great for making meaningful connections.
- Reaching out to others. Don’t be afraid to call, email, or reach out to people on social media. Do some former colleagues seem like potential mentors? Reach out and see what happens!
- Maintaining relationships. Being out of work is no reason to let existing relationships wither. Stay in communication with former colleagues, and follow-up when people reach out. This is the time to grow your network—not let it shrink.
Continuing your education
Furthering your education is always a great use of time—especially when you’re trying to maximize your hireability. The more you know, the more value you’ll have to employers.
Remember that education can take different forms:
- Formal education. Could a full-on degree boost your hireability? Then go for it! Otherwise, certification courses provide a cheaper—and less time-consuming—option.
- Informal education. The internet is great for self-study—or you could hit the library and do it the old-fashioned way. Workshops are also great for learning informally in a group setting.
Building your personal brand
- Online presence. In almost any industry, it pays to be online. LinkedIn is an obvious—and effective—networking tool, but you could also consider posting about your industry on social media, writing a blog, or creating your own website.
- Reputation management. People are going to search your name online—and you’re much more hireable if they like what they see. Got anything embarrassing on the first page of Google? Take it down if you can—or try to bury it with more flattering content.
Hireability is all about maximizing your potential so you can show employers the best version of yourself. There are lots of ways to do that, of course. Looking to return with a former employer? Then enquire about your rehire eligibility. Hoping to head somewhere new? Then do what it takes to boost your general hireability.
Increasing your hireability is more than a short-term strategy for landing your next gig. It’s also an important element of career growth. When you expand your skill set and cement your professional reputation, employers will give you greater value. That results in more job security and a stable income.
Boosting hireability comes down to 2 key concepts:
If you work on self-improvement each and every day—and take bold actions as you do so—you’ll become more hireable.
From there, your career can only go in one direction: forward!
About the Author: Ben Clabault is a freelance writer from Sandwich, Massachusetts. He has spent much of his adult life traveling through Latin America. He currently lives with his fiance in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. His areas of expertise include travel, marketing, SaaS, and global cultures. You can find his work on Copyfolio and reach out to him on LinkedIn.