An increasing number of women are taking a few years off from their careers to have children and then re-enter the workforce once their children are in school. These women are called “sequencing moms.”
Returning to the workforce after a prolonged absence can be nerve-wracking, to say the least. Below I share some strategies to help you make that transition with greater ease.
1. Examine Your Life and Career
Career after baby does not always look the same as career before baby. It helps to get real, and ask yourself some of these important and meaningful questions to assess your priorities:
What do I really want?
Part-time or full-time?
Will I put my child in daycare, or will I hire a nanny?
Do I want to start my own business or work for someone else?
Do I want to go back to my previous job, or start in an entirely new field? Sometimes advancing internally in your old company can be a very viable option.
When examining your life as a mom in conjunction with your career, think:
What do I value in an employer?
Do I enjoy a fast-paced, more corporate environment, or would I prefer to work for a small company (the big fish in a small pond scenario).
Do I need more flexibility than the average employee? Chances are yes, as you are a mother now.
2. Familiarize and Set New Goals
Once you’ve evaluated your life and current situation, and have started to figure out what you’re looking for in a career, it’s time to set some goals! Familiarize yourself with all the different industries that interest you so you can start making some strategic career decisions.
Give yourself a timeline of when you hope to accomplish each career goal. Have that timeline clearly mapped out, and posted in a visible spot – your office, your closet, your nightstand. This keeps your eye on the prize and holds you accountable to your goals.
Your first job out the motherhood gate may not be your dream job either, but remember that nothing is permanent.
3. Revamp Your Resume
If you’ve had a long hiatus, fill in the long gaps in your resume with any volunteer projects you worked on. Were you president of the PTA? Did you start the marketing initiative at your child’s school? Many of these experiences can be put on your resume. Online sites like Monster.com can also help you nail your resume.
A reminder to have that resume in a PDF link, so that you may even reach out to someone on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Workopolis, Monster, WowJobs, etc., and send them your CV easily.
I also suggest setting up a profile at About.me. Many companies will Google you after your interview, and it’s good to have a strong About.me page with links to any past media interviews, blogs, etc.
4. Practice, Practice, Practice and Research!
In speaking about polishing your CV, I must also remind you to brush up on those interviewing skills! Practice interviewing with your partner and even in the mirror. Yes, your interview technique will have a major influence on the success of your job search.
Take the time to research the company you’re interviewing with prior to the big meeting, and try to anticipate questions they would ask. Preparation is crucial for nailing the interview.
5. Networking, Baby!
Most people get turned off or scared of networking. They walk into a room and freeze. As I say to the women and moms I coach, “Get over it!” You’re not going to grow your contact database by sitting behind your desk all day. Shyness just won’t cut it as an excuse.
Your roster of personal contacts is one of the most powerful tools you currently have, and the perfect place to begin the networking process. Commit to reconnecting with people in your existing and prior networks, like friends, old friends, family, former work colleagues, former bosses, and peers. See if any of them are connected to your field of choice.
But it is crucial to go one step further than just your roster of personal contacts. Join local organizations like your local chamber of commerce, local networking groups in your area. BNI is a smart organization to join, as it is based upon a built-in referral program, where everyone shares referrals.
6. Consider Upgrading Your Skills and Doing Additional Training/Education
A sure-fire way to improve your employability and stay marketable is to gain additional training or certification. Simply put, it keeps more options available to you and opens more doors. Today it’s becoming more necessary than ever to stay on top of technology and other industry trends, so staying current keeps you relevant.
When upgrading your skills, obviously keep them relevant and consistent with your interests and career goals.
7. You Might Just Be the Next Martha Stewart!
Finally, if there is nothing that has excited you after working with a career or life coach, or taking some self-assessment quizzes, and you have that entrepreneurial itch, you might just be ready to be YOUR OWN BOSS and start your own business. If you truly have the passion, the talent and the drive, this may be the year you become an entrepreneur!
And how to do that? I’ll save that for my next article.
8. Be Flexible
A final reminder is to stay flexible in your job search. You may wish to work full-time, but sometimes working part-time gets your foot in the door. It’s also great for your resume.
Your first job out the motherhood gate may not be your dream job either, but remember that nothing is permanent. And there are no regrets in life, only learning experiences and lessons for the future.
I’d love to hear: Are you a mom returning to work? How is it going?