An Executive/Board Director’s Guide to Re-Entering the Workforce

It is becoming increasingly common for people to be out of the workforce for a year or more. Sometimes by choice and sometimes involuntary, there are several reasons why someone may step away from the workforce for a period, including caring for elders or children, returning to school, deciding to travel, or overcoming a personal illness.

Whatever the reason for your absence, you will have to decide how to convey it on your executive resume or board document. If you are a CEO, COO, CDO, CFO, CMO, CIO, CTO, other CxO, or board director who has decided to re-enter the workforce, consider the following steps to help direct your career transition activities. Keep in mind that professional executive and board director career coaches are available to support you.

6 Steps for Executives Re-entering the Workforce

Step 1: Know Your Story.

Take some time to reflect. Was the reason for the absence voluntary or involuntary? Was it a negative experience or a positive one? What did you do, and what did you learn? How has your perspective of yourself and the world changed? What are your fears and ambitions about returning to work? Your answers will help you define your brand, design your career marketing documents, and formulate your narrative.

Step 2: Re-Discover Yourself.

Question your perspective and worldview a little deeper by revisiting your values, strengths, and interests. These evolve naturally over time as we accumulate experiences, but sometimes a prolonged absence from the familiarity of work can speed up the process.

Step 3: Re-Evaluate the Employment Landscape.

Over time, jobs transform, educational material changes, and work environments morph. Many things may have changed since you were last at work, depending on how long you’ve been away. If you have been completely removed from the workforce, your re-entrance will likely take longer than someone who was freelancing, consulting, or volunteering. How has your target field changed? Consider re-skilling or up-skilling your skillset to fill any gaps you find.

Step 4: Re-Tell Your Story.

Develop your career break narrative. Practice telling your story to as many people as possible, including family, friends, old connections, and new acquaintances. Repetition will help you confidently own your messaging and send a consistent message, regardless of your audience.

Step 5: Re-Brand Your Candidate Persona.

Re-design your career marketing documents (including your executive resume, value proposition letter, LinkedIn profile, biography, and board documents) to match the story you want to tell and your professional executive image. Spend time practicing what you want to say in interviews and focus on keeping realistic expectations and resiliency.

Step 6: Create Your Action Plan.

Break down career transition activities into small, achievable action items with timelines. Many executive and board director candidates find this the most challenging part of re-entering the workforce. Remember that there is a whole industry of executive career coaches and executive resume writers with the expertise to expedite your transition back into the workforce!

To find out how we can help you set yourself up for success in re-entering the workforce, book a complimentary and confidential call with us here.

Mary Elizabeth Bradford is the Founder and Executive Director of and and a past executive recruiter. A thought leader in the career services industry for over 20 years, she holds 5 distinct advanced certifications for senior-level resume writing, online branding and executive-level job search coaching (CERM, CMRW, CARW, MCD, NCOPE). She has been seen and heard in major media including Forbes, Time, WSJ, Newsweek and NBC affiliate stations. She holds 2 CDI TORI awards and is a top tier judge for the elite CDI TORI awards for four consecutive years. Mary Elizabeth Bradford’s elite team of award-winning, certified, top executive resume writers, former top executive recruiters, and global HR executives help many of the world’s premier C-suite, board members and thought leaders secure the transitions and compensation packages they want. She works with clients all over the globe.

If you are a Director, VP, CxO, or Board Member interested in an executive resume package or working directly with Mary Elizabeth, click to schedule a complimentary 15-minute call.