If you’re a stay-at-home mom thinking about going back to work, you may find yourself wondering if it’s possible with a giant gap in your resume. It likely won’t be easy, but many women – and men – have managed to return to the workforce, sometimes after a two decades-long hiatus. By far the most effective way to land a job is through a referral; 70 percent of jobs are filled through a referral. But many organizations rallying on behalf of stay-at-home mothers are also partnering with companies to create innovative staffing solutions. Not to mention that many moms I encounter are finding increasingly enterprising ways to hustle and produce entrepreneurial revenue streams. Here are some tips to help you get back in the game.
1. Decide what you want. One of the biggest concerns employers have when hiring relaunchers, is that they may not know what they want. It’s a valid concern. After taking so much time off, your needs and ambitions have likely changed. The reasons can be varied, from additional income to camaraderie to self-fulfillment. For many moms, a 9-to-5 would no longer work for their new lifestyle. For this reason, many prefer part-time jobs. Or many returning moms no longer want the high-powered positions that come with a lot of stress. These women are happy to take positions they’re overqualified for in exchange for more flexibility. Or perhaps self-employment is the most viable option for you. Whatever your situation is, take some time to think about what it is you want and what’s most important for you before knocking on someone’s door.
2. Update your tech skills. Another big concern employers have when hiring relaunchers, is that returning caregivers are not technologically up to date. This is an easy fix. Before you decide to enter the work force, make sure you’re up to date on office management software. Take a crash course in Excel and PowerPoint. Platforms like Lynda offer easy-to-access courses that can keep you get up to date.
3. Update your resume. Updating your resume can seem like a daunting task when you have a gaping hole. Even seasoned professionals may not have their resume updated if they’ve managed to move up the ranks within the same company. The best advice here is to consider seeking professional assistance. Investing the money to have your resume reviewed and gleaned by a professional can really pay off, especially since highlighting, not hiding, your time off can be tricky. There are certainly skills you’ve gained during this time. But how you position those skills can make all the difference. If you have a lot of volunteer work, for instance, consider creating your own consulting company and putting all of your work under one umbrella.
4. Network. You need to put yourself out there by talking to everyone. Did you know that 70 percent of jobs are filled based on a referral. The first place to start before networking is perfecting your elevator pitch. NEVER ever say you’d be willing to do anything. This reeks of desperation. The more specific and sure you can sound about the kind of work you’re interested in, the more confident and desirable you’ll seem. Remember that every person you meet or encounter is an opportunity for a referral. Even if they may not be in a position to directly hire you, they may know somebody who is. So be prepared to network in a professional and poised manner.
5. Create business cards. You don’t need anything fancy, just polished. If the topic of work ever comes up in conversation, it’ll be a great way for people to remember and reach you.
5. Look for mom-friendly jobs. There’s a whole industry opening up that’s not only sympathetic to the cause of relaunchers, but exclusively tailored for moms who have taken time off. Many of these programs will only consider relaunchers for hire. Returnships, or internships for caregivers returning to work, have recently made headlines. If the company you’re interested in doesn’t have a returnship program, don’t be afraid to suggest one by contracting a role or asking for a trial period, especially if you sense hesitancy on their part.
6. Consider contract, part-time or even free work. Gone are the days of indentured servitude. So I say “free” here cautiously. But if you feel there is a good chance of being hired or noticed for a coveted position, throwing in free or volunteer work may get you in the door. Show them what your capable of first. Then make requests based on your need.
7. Diversify your efforts. Returning to work may take some time. Landing a job after a hiatus can take months, a year, or even longer. So it’s important to keep hope alive. The best way to do that is by diversifying your efforts. You never know which one will pan out.
The road back to work may be challenging. But don’t get discouraged. All you need is one job. And remember that you’ve already performed the hardest job in the world.