Many families don’t have a choice about staying home with the kids: They simply can’t afford to have one parent out of the workforce. Other parents are passionate about their work and chose to return to work soon after having a baby.
If you are one of the about 30 percent of women who are stay-at-home moms, there will probably be a time when you consider rejoining the workforce. Maybe it’s once your little one starts school, or when afterschool activities kick in and you find yourself without a babe to pick up at the bus stop.
No matter the time, it is difficult to seamlessly re-enter the workforce after a period of time away. Here’s some advice about rejoining the workforce after being a stay-at-home mom.
Spend Some Time Daydreaming
Daydreaming is not a luxury afforded to most parents, whether they work inside or outside of the home. However, spending time in quiet reflection about your new career path, potential positions and employment non-negotiables will help to focus your search. Instead of applying for the same job you had pre-kids, you may realize you want to have different hours, focus on a new field or go back to school for more training.
You’ll have to think practically as well. If going back to work means you will be paying for child care, you’ll need to pick a field or position that pays enough to make up the difference. Workplace culture may take on extra importance, since 70 billable hours a week, lengthy commutes (fun …or not-so-fun…fact – the average commute time in Maryland is over a half hour each way) and inflexible schedules don’t particularly jive with kids’ schedules.
You may surprise yourself to find out you are headed in a different professional direction than you were before parenthood, or you may start by calling up your previous employer. Either way, give yourself time to consider the options before diving in.
Build and Update Experience
As you begin to consider rejoining the workforce, take stock of which skills may need improved upon or what gaps in your work experience may need filled. For example, if you work in communications, you could volunteer to write for a local nonprofit’s website or newsletter to get back into the swing of things. If you worked in IT, it might be time to update certifications. Health care workers may wish to take classes on the latest developments in their field.
Professional development opportunities will also provide a chance to network, so check out conferences or seminars in your chosen field. Not only will you learn something new, you may also meet future colleagues.
Refresh Your Resume
Resumes are still an important part of the job application process, so give yours a fresh look and feel. Any volunteering or part-time work you took on while being a SAHM should be included in your resume. Count any side hustles and freelance work as experience, because it is.
Match the keywords in the job posting with the language in your resume so the human resources staff takes notice. Also, don’t be afraid to own the fact that you were raising little humans – it’s honest, relatable and it is going to come up in the interview process anyway.
Put Your Networks to Work
It is hard to make your resume stand out in the crowd, especially when there is a gap in your work experience. Therefore a face-to-face connection with potential employers, or friends at your dream job who might hand-deliver your resume, is priceless. So attend network events, let fellow moms know you are back in the job hunt and reach out to your college’s alumni association.
Also, use social networks to your advantage. Update or build a LinkedIn profile, and you’ll be encouraged and amazed at how many personal connections you already have with people in your field. Ask for endorsements or recommendations, and search out potential connections. On Facebook, you can like potential employers to get a sense of their office culture, and send personal messages to friends in your field. If you are starting your own business, you could also find your first customers on your Facebook page.
Once you’ve gotten in the door, your ability to answer questions in an interview may be the only thing standing between you and employment. However, after years of watching “Frozen” and “Caillou,” you may want to brush up on professional jargon. Ask a trusted friend or significant other to ask you some of the most common interview questions and give you feedback. You want to make sure you are repeating the keywords and necessary experience listed in the job posting.
All of those skills you’ve been perfecting at home – like patience, decisiveness, management and multitasking – will serve you well at the office. Give yourself time to transition back into the workforce and don’t let little setbacks deter your enthusiasm. Any employer would be lucky to have another mom on their staff. We know how to get the job done.