Tips For Stay-at-Home Parents Returning To The Workforce
It’s time. You’ve decided you’re ready to make that leap back into the grown-up world where you’ll trade your sweatshirt for a suit jacket and push papers instead of a stroller. Conversations won’t end with “Because I said so” and naptime will quickly become a distant memory.
Returning to the workforce (the paid workforce that is) after time away to raise your family won’t be easy, but you can make it happen.
How you structure your job search for a workforce re-entry depends on how long you have been away. The shorter the time, the more current your skills are, and therefore your search is likely to be a bit less challenging. If you have been away for years, more work and workforce re-entry planning will likely be required. What constitutes short- and long-term really depends on your industry, but below are some job search tips that can apply to each returning to the workforce scenario.
Figure out child care before you start back: The biggest change moms and dads have to deal with when returning to the workforce is shifting your priority away from your family and on to your job during your workday. Employers don’t want to deal with your personal life – when you’re on the clock, your job has to be the focus. Start the change by lining up reliable child care. If you’ve got this figured out, you can attend interviews on the potential employer’s schedule and show that you’re ready to be all in on the job. And prep your caregivers and your kids for those for few weeks after returning to the workforce. Discuss acceptable reasons for calling you at work with the emphasis on not calling. Expect that you WON’T have break times for phone calls during that first week and explain this to them.
Be pro-active and get current in your field: While your skills and qualifications 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. Take some time to ramp up and learn any new technology or applications used in your field. If there are related regulations, get updated on the latest. The internet has become a major tool in all industries – figure out how it plays into your line of work. If you’ve been certified in your profession, see what you need to do to get current.
Go back within 10 years: In today’s flexible job market, a three to five-year absence can be explained pretty easily. hiring managers and recruiters frequently see employment gaps like this, and having spent that gap by choice creates an acceptable justification. Justifying more than ten years becomes more difficult.
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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.
Try temping. While this won’t work for all types of careers, a temporary job can certainly give you a taste of the workplace again. Also, some companies like to hire their temporary employees – and that could be you.
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.
Create Your Returning to the Workforce Resume
Be honest. If you try to gloss over the employment gap or disguise it with a questionable job title like “Domestic Engineer” you risk giving the impression that you’re hiding something. And, while honesty is always the best policy, remove “parent” from your resume. No, you probably didn’t have this word in it, but while being a parent is definitely hard work, it isn’t the kind of experience that most companies require (unless you are applying to a daycare facility). To make your job search smoother, make sure your experience and skills in your resume and in interviews relate directly to what the company needs. Use your cover letter to explain the employment gap along with descriptions of what you’ve done to stay or get back in the know in your field.
List unpaid work that used business skills. List activities that helped you keep your skills up. Volunteering, continuing ed, freelance projects, professional development, and self-employment are all activities where you used business skills that could apply to your desired position. If you were a volunteer leader, describe your role and list your accomplishments. If you created a newsletter, website, or marketing materials gratis, describe the project and the tools you used.
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Stay Motivated During a Challenging Job Seach
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 that when you are first returning to the workforce, you may not jump into the same level you once were at. But you can get back there, just not necessarily at the start.
Be your own cheerleader. Some people will see your time at home as a way of getting out of work. Others will question your parenting for wanting to go back. Neither of these attitudes define you, or any other stay-at-home parent. You’re doing what makes sense for you and your family, and you need to keep your chin up. Don’t let others’ negativity affect your decision.
Michelle Dumas is the founder and CEO of Distinctive Career Services, one of the internet's longest-standing and most respected professional resume writing firms. Michelle is a 6X certified and 7X award-winning resume writer and career consultant. To learn more about the services offered by Distinctive Career Services visit https://www.distinctiveweb.com