3 Part Series: Returning to Work After Raising Kids – Part One

Looking for work can be a challenge for anyone, but it’s especially daunting if you haven’t worked outside the home in several years.

If you or someone you love is returning to the workforce, you may be concerned a lack of up to date skills, competing against other candidates with current relevant experience, and re-learning the politics of interviewing. If you can relate – relax; you are not alone.

Insight into some of the hesitations and concerns on the minds of employers when they meet you, may help you through the process.

  • Is this individual truly ready to reenter the workforce?
  • Has this candidate kept up with trends and issues that impact the industry?
  • Did this candidate keep their skills up to date?
  • Does this individual have realistic expectations for work-life balance?
  • Can the candidate identify how their time away from the workforce will benefit their career?

If you are able to answer the above questions and articulate this information clearly to your future employer, you will have a much smoother job search process. Be sure the answer make sense by running them by people you trust and respect, who are currently working outside the home.

Tips to help get you out of the home and into the office as painlessly as possible.

Focus on face time rather than internet time. When you have a gap (or gaps) in your resume, relying on online applications and job postings may be more difficult, may even be a complete waste of time.

Hiring managers admit that when comparing two resumes, one with current experience and one with a gap in it – they will always select the one with more current employment. However, if you are in a room with a potential employer, you can make the gap in your resume interesting and positive. You have more opportunity to demonstrate that your passion and your personality are easily more valuable than any gap in experience.

Network in every way possible. Focus on making contacts and meeting new people the same way you do in your personal life, through friends, family and former colleagues or contacts.

  • Connect with former work friends and colleagues. Ask them for leads, now or in the future, on open positions.
  • Ask former colleagues other contacts and referrals.
  • Join a professional or networking group. There are associations in every field as well as working women networking and support groups. Your alumni association may be a good resource, no matter how far out of school you are.
  • Throw a networking party. It doesn’t need to be fancy or costly. Since people are your best source of job leads, invite friends, family, and neighbors, even parents of kids’ friends that you don’t know that well or people who are members of your religious congregation. You could even call it an ‘Idea Potluck’ and ask them to bring a connection, an idea, or a job lead to the table. Include your friends and put yourself out there. Since these are people who know and trust you and your character, they will be glad to make introductions and serve as references.
  • Arrange in-person meetings. In all of your networking efforts, aim for face-to-face meetings. Offer to buy coffee or meet at your contact’s office for a specific amount of time (15-20 minutes). Stick to the time set out in advance. Be clear about the purpose of the meeting. Set a target to walk away with at least three contacts or referrals. Rebuild your professional database, and keep impeccable records and follow up on any leads in a timely manner.

In the second part of this series, we will look at how to make the gap in your work history into an asset.