Are you a stay at home mom who wants to go back to work? This 7-step plan can help you get prepared to re-enter the work-force.
Making the decision to go back to work can be an exciting—and scary—prospect for stay at home moms. There are many things to consider such as your schedule, childcare options, and whether or not you have support systems in place to make things work. Your biggest hurdle may be a lack of confidence in your skills and abilities, but keep in mind that in your role as a mom you work very hard every single day – and are constantly building skills that can applied in the workforce! Whether you’ve been a stay at home mom for one year or ten, there are actionable steps you can take now to increase your chances of successfully returning to your career. Follow our 7-step plan to help prepare you for your comeback in the career world!
7 Steps for Stay At Home Moms To Try
1. Assess and update your skills
It’s time to get real and ask yourself some questions. What are your interests? Where are your strengths? What’s your relevant experience in your desired field? One great way to get yourself updated on the current job market is by looking at job descriptions in your areas of interest, and paying attention to the desired qualifications. With the rapidly changing advancements and technologies across almost every industry, realistically, you’re probably going to need to brush up on your skills. And that’s ok! It’s just a matter of figuring out the best way to do that—whether it’s be taking a class, getting certified or finally earning your degree.
2. Spread the word
One way of increasing your chances of getting back to work is to let people know that you’re looking. That means updating your social media profiles and making everyone aware of your job search. If you’re not already on LinkedIn, it’s time to create a profile ASAP. Once you’re set up, ask friends and past co-workers or bosses to write recommendations for you, and—whenever possible—reach out and ask for introductions to people at companies that you’re interested in. You can also join online professional groups to help build your contact list. And don’t discount more traditional forms of networking, such as reaching out to your contacts—including other stay at home moms—by phone or attending networking events. The important thing is to get out there, because you never know who you might meet!
3. Update your resume
It’s time for the task that strikes fear in the heart of most people—updating your resume. But it doesn’t have to be scary! Creating an effective resume is critical if you want to sell yourself to potential employers. Start by figuring out how to best fill in your employment gap with relevant skills and experience you’ve acquired during your time as a stay at home mom. The best way to do that may be by creating a “functional resume” that focuses on your skills and abilities, rather than simply your chronological work history. For example, were you a fundraising superstar for your child’s school? Did you serve as a member or the PTA or head of a Board? Or maybe are involved in local politics or committees? These are the types of things that you can include on your resume under “relevant experience.” Just make sure you outline your responsibilities as they relate to your field. And to that point, it’s always a good idea to customize your resume to the specific job you’re applying for, whenever possible.
4. Consider volunteering
It may seem counterintuitive to focus on volunteering when your main goal is getting back to work. However, putting in the effort to volunteer in your industry is a great way to get your foot in the door, and it may really pay off in the long run. That’s because volunteering can provide the opportunity to refresh your experience and gain new skills in your field; it shows that you are motivated and proactive; and it can help you build relevant contacts who may serve as references, introduce you to potential job opportunities, or may even decide to bring you on with the company. We know that you’re busy balancing your responsibilities at home with your job search, but if you can make the time, you’ve really got nothing to lose.
5. Set realistic salary goals
Part of the planning process for going back to work involves figuring out what your desired salary range is. This can be tough, especially if you’ve been out of the workforce for a long time. It can also be tempting to underestimate what you’re worth, so try not to fall into that trap. You also need to consider your family’s budget—including childcare costs—and what you realistically need to earn to keep things afloat. To help give you an idea of what people in your desired occupations are earning you can consult the Bureau of Labor Statics (BLS) to find median salaries, and even job projection stats. Remember that you may have to take less money than you’d like to get the position you want, but that doesn’t mean you can’t earn more once you’ve built up your experience.
6. Practice Interviewing
What’s the best way to get good at interviewing? Practice, practice, practice! It’s time to enlist the help of your friends and family, to pose as potential employers in mock-up interviews. The more you rehearse, the more comfortable—and confident—you’ll be once it’s time for the real thing. To get you started, here are some sample questions to think about:
- Why do you think you’re ready to go back to work now?
- What’s a recent difficult problem you’ve faced, and how did you handle it?
- Do you prefer to work alone or with others?
- Can you describe your ideal boss?
- Why makes you a good fit for this position?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
One more thing to remember when you do land an interview is to do your research beforehand. You should be very familiar with who the company is, what they do, and who they serve. And be ready with some questions of your own to show that you’ve prepared and are taking the position seriously.
7. Work with a professional
Sometimes it just makes sense to go with an expert. Whether you need help re-working your resume and cover letter, or to simply find the right type of job for your schools and experience, there’s likely a professional out there that can help you out. You may be surprised to find how many people make a career out of helping others get their dream job. So there’s no reason to feel weird about hiring a career coach or resume writer. Just make sure that you do your research so you get someone who’s been well- vetted by others. Another avenue to consider is working with a recruiter, whose job it is to place the right people with the right company. What you’ll likely need to do is meet with the recruiter (with your updated resume!) and go over your skills, experience and goals so that they can keep you in mind when relevant positions come up.
Going back to work is a major life change and you should be proud that you’re taking that leap. In addition to the seven steps we outlined above, you can help make the transition more seamless by focusing on how you can enhance your skills and qualifications to attract potential employers. One great way to boost your credentials is to further your education by pursuing a degree. And when you study online, you’ll have the flexibility to do it on your own time—and from the comfort of your home.