Employers like candidates, who are employed, naturally, but that can be a bad thing too, if too long at one employer or skills at that employer are dated.
What matters most is practical skills. A candidate reentering the job market must first assess if their skill set is still what employers want and relevant / current.
A good way to get practical experience is simply to do some volunteer work or internship. Getting a current certification in your area is another great way to show relevance and explain time off. Many employers give skill evaluation tests, so that many times takes the place of experience. If going the volunteer route, there are many non-profits. Advertising on Craig’s List is a surefire way to do that. You only need a few months, but I think simply going the education route is best. One should never work for free.
Candidates should talk to recruiters and employers and see what the complaints are, if any. A candidate should not assume thoughts from others. They should get feedback. The candidate should not give excuses, simply state the reason. After receiving a list of complaints, the candidate can categorize them and start strategizing a list of action items to address each point. Negative comments are great, better than positive ones, as they lead to correction and improvement.
Sarah Weinberger is a career coach with Butterflyvista Corporation. She is also a software and systems engineer. You can learn more about her and Butterflyvista by visiting the consulting website, http://consulting.butterflyvista.com/. You can connect with her via the site or her LinkedIn profile.