You are ready to step back into the job market after staying home with the children, but you don’t know where to start. Don’t worry: being nervous is completely normal. It is important to begin by brushing up on your skills, networking and developing your résumé and cover letter. Remember to remain confident in your abilities.
When starting your job search, be open to a variety of opportunities. Malia Litman, a women’s advocate who returned to the job market after staying at home for 15 years, says to present your skills as a stay-at-home mom in a different light; make them applicable to the workplace. Traits, such as being a quick learner and a team player, are valuable in the office.
Networking is key when starting to look for a job, according to Peter Handal, president of Dale Carnegie Training. Talk to others in the job field to get a refresher on the industry and to learn of new opportunities.
Litman suggests going to your college alumni office for career assistance, joining a professional network for your preferred job field or checking into local women’s business chapters. Stacey Smith, founder of Hybrid Mom (www.hybridmom.com), says to “post, tweet and overall broadcast” that you are in the job search process.
When it comes to updating your résumé, include volunteer experience. Anything you’ve been working on can fill the “kid gap,” according to Smith. Go for a skill-based résumé in order to better demonstrate your strengths.
Discuss your employment gap in the cover letter, but mainly focus on your abilities and qualifications. Litman says to include any skills you used when volunteering at your child’s school or with other community organizations (fund-raising, letter writing, marketing, accounting, etc.).
“You should create a visual bridge between your stay-at-home-mom skills and those desired by the employer,” says Litman. “If you have a lot of ‘empty space’ on your résumé, consider taking an additional course or line of study, even if you don’t achieve an additional degree.”
Do your homework before the interview. Make sure your résumé appeals to employers, according to Handal. Present your strengths and sell yourself while maintaining the mindset of the employer. Practice your interview skills by talking about your values and experiences with friends and family.
Becoming an entrepreneur or working as an independent consultant are other options for moms. Litman says that having a business looks great on a résumé; it “creates the impression that you are a creative ‘go-getter’ with initiative and drive.” Handal suggests a part-time position as a good option to slowly step back into the working world.
One of the biggest challenges for mothers is getting out of “mother mode,” according to Vicki Brackett, creator of Make It Happen for Women (www.makeithappenforwomen.com). Brackett helps women realize that they don’t need to tell the hiring manager every detail during the interview. It is better to discuss flexible work schedules once you are hired. Brackett says stay-at-home moms must learn what skills they should showcase in order to appear confident and marketable to employers.
“Don’t say that you are a master at multitasking,” says Litman. “Because even though you are, that signifies a woman who stays at home. Say that you have experience and expertise in setting priorities, in following up and being responsible and accountable, and that you are a creative problem solver. You are all these things, but you have used these skills in raising your kids.”