A woman I met that's beginning a new job search was struggling to figure out what kind of position to seek and what companies to target to find a position as quickly as possible. She had an impressive background, however, in a variety of roles that didn't make her an obvious fit for any one particular field.
After college, she landed in one of America's greatest companies and was being groomed for leadership roles in the organization. She was given opportunities with significant responsibilities in a variety of roles and areas of the company. She gained tremendous broad exposure, however, never specialized in any one area. After nearly 10 years, she left the company, deciding to stay home and raise her 4 children. Now, many years later, she would like to dive into a career again, but doesn't know where to begin.
It can be difficult. However, it helped her to think logically about where she might be able to get a new role most quickly and easily.
Old connections are easier than new connections. Provided you haven't burned bridges, reconnecting with people you've worked with in the past, who know your work, your personality, and your abilities are much more likely to be able to refer appropriate opportunities, people, or companies to you than someone that you have to find, reach out to, and explain your history anew. Job seekers often neglect to effectively seek out and connect with all the people that know them best. They feel uncomfortable going back to someone they may not have talked to in years. Their pride gets in the way if they have to admit they are unemployed. Or for various other reasons they just don't do it. However, those people can often be the most valuable in finding a job quickly!
Old companies are easier than new companies. Similarly, a company that you've worked at in the past is more likely to consider a "known commodity" than someone new off the street. At times, I've seen that companies think more highly of someone coming back into the organization than they thought of them on the way out! While there certainly may be legitimate reasons you may not want to work at a particular company again, often a good previous work experience somewhere should certainly warrant consideration to go back. It often sets your resume up nicely for future opportunities as well. When a potential future employer sees that a company was willing to re-hire you a second time… it tells them that they valued you highly.
Old job fields are easier than new job fields. While you may want to change careers for one reason or another, it's certainly easier to land a new position in your old field than changing to something new. An Accountant with experience in a manufacturing operation can typically land a position as an Accountant in another manufacturing operation easier than they can as a Financial Analyst in a retail operation. If you're looking for the quickest and easiest route into a new position, look for jobs in the same field.
There may be good reasons to strike out into entirely new contacts, companies, and careers. However, if finding a position as quickly and as easily as possible is your highest priority, take advantage of the history you have and pursue those avenues effectively!