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As this weekend is Mother’s Day weekend, this article providing job search tips to mothers who wish to return to the workforce seemed timely. It has often been said that a mother’s work is never done. Now, imagine that work includes returning to work – the paid workforce, that is – after being away to raise children.
How you structure your job search depends on how long you have been away. The shorter the time, the more current your skills are, and therefore less work is needed on your part. If you have been away for years, longer term planning is required. What constitutes short- and long-term really depends on your industry, but below are some job search tips that can apply to each scenario.
- Apply to your previous company. They know you have the skills, they know you have the experience, and best of all, you know the corporate culture. If you are on friendly terms with any of the managers, call them – they may be able to find a position (possibly hidden ones too) for you.
- Talk with recruiters. Why do all of the work yourself when you can have others helping you? Recruiters know who is hiring, what experience they need, which companies are family-friendly…take advantage of this resource during your job search.
- Practice, practice, practice. You need to know to sell yourself and how to explain the gap in your experience. Write down all possible questions and practice answering every one of them. Then practice in front of family, friends, or even the mirror – face-to-face interaction tends to be more difficult, so remove that hurdle from your job search.
- Look for the hidden job market. Talk to everyone you know and let them know you are job searching. Don’t ask them if they know of a job opening. Instead, ask them if they could introduce you to someone they know that it will be helpful for you to talk with. This will expand your network and eventually your resume may get passed along to a company that needs your skills – but without the competition.
- Try temping. While this won’t work for all types of careers, it can certainly give you a taste of the workplace again. Also, some companies like to hire their temporary employees – and that could be you.
- Be pro-active. Again, while your skills and concepts in your career may still be current, your experience may not be. Take a course, workshop, or seminar to boost your educational background. A part-time job, volunteer work, or even a one-time gig related to your field can show that you have remained invested in your work and that you can prove it.
- Remove “mom” from your resume. No, you probably didn’t have this word in it, but while being a mom is definitely hard work, it isn’t the kind of experience that most companies require (unless you are a daycare facility). To make your job search smoother, make sure your experience and skills, in your cover letter, resume, and in interviews, relate directly to what the company needs.
- Adjust your expectations, especially if you have been out of the workforce for a while. It takes time to build confidence, trust, and knowledge – both for you and your prospective employer – so that you again are recognized as a valued employee. That means you may not jump into the same level you once were at. But you can get back there, just not necessarily at the start.
- Finally, be patient, be realistic, and stay confident. Getting into the workforce nowadays is no easy task…and getting back in after a sabbatical to raise children is even more difficult. Jobs probably won’t jump into your lap, but with perseverance, dedication, and positivity, you will be successful in your job search.