Are you a stay-at-home mom (or dad) going back to work? Your days spent home with your child are likely busy, important, and rewarding. To employers, though, this time away from the workplace looks like a gap in your resume.
Job Search Tips for Getting Back Into the Workplace
So how can SAHMs show off their talents, get back into a networking groove, and get invited to interviews? Read on for tips to help you get back in the job search game.
Review the Basics
Has it been a while since you last sent out resumes and cover letters and had a job interview? While you're likely not an entry-level employee and have gone through the job search process before, it still makes sense to spend time reviewing the job application process.
- Resume: Along with your cover letter, your resume is the most important document you'll create for your job search. Refresh yours with the help of this resume writing guide.
- LinkedIn and other networking sites: These days, having a LinkedIn profile is essential for most job seekers. Find more of the best social media sites for networking.
- Cover letter refresher: Do you know how to write a cover letter that'll get the attention of recruiters? Review this cover letter guide for tips on writing requests for informational interviews, targeted cover letters that put the emphasis on your qualifications, and more.
- Personal Website: Depending on your field, you may find it helpful to create a personal website to showcase your writing, design, or other assets in an online work portfolio. Get information on how to create a personal website.
Prepare Your Elevator Pitch
Develop a good elevator pitch about your career and what you're looking to do next for work.
Even if your day-to-day consists of housework, chauffeuring, and homework wrangling, that doesn't have to be your response. You can say things like:
I'm a former investment banker. I've been focused on parenting these past few years, but am looking to return to the world of finance.
Now that Sam and Jane are in elementary school, I'm looking for a position in marketing. I worked for ABC company before they were born and have been keeping up with the field through my volunteer work for the XYZ foundation.
It's fine to let people know you're looking for a job—in fact, it's recommended! You never know when you'll meet someone who has a friend looking to fill a position.
The Three Cs: Classes, Conferences, and Certifications
Classes, conferences, and certifications are all good ways to re-engage with your career and the jargon that likely accompanies it.
Just a few hours in a class may remind you how "RFP," "SEO," or other work jargon and acronyms used to easily roll off your tongue.
As well as helping you re-engage, these types of group situations are great opportunities for networking.
Volunteering is another good way to make connections. While any type of volunteer work is helpful for meeting people, aim to do volunteer work that's relevant to your field of choice (or for an organization that has a connection to your field).
You can do design work for your food or nursery coop, for instance, to freshen up your portfolio or write for local newsletters to have current clips.
Ease Back Into Your Job Search
Instead of focusing on landing a full-time role, seek out contract or part-time work. For many employers, these types of positions serve as test drives—they are a low-cost way to see if a role needs to be full-time and to find out if a potential employee is a good fit. Since the risk to the company is low (temp employees generally aren't included in headcount and don't receive benefits) these positions are often much easier to land.
Another strategy to ease into your job search is to set up meetings with recruiters and staffing agencies. Not only will these organizations potentially connect you with a job, but interviewing with them is also a good way to refresh your interview skills and practice answering common interview questions.
Try Informational Interviews
Done right, informational interviews can lead to employment opportunities. One manager we know is fond of interviewing as many people as he can reasonably fit into his schedule, even when he is fairly certain he's found the right person for the job. No, he isn't sadistic; he uses those connections for freelance and project-based opportunities.
Network, Network, Network
It's a cliché that's true: sometimes it's more about who you know than about what you know. Networking can sound fake and forced, but done right, it's just a matter of making connections and doing favors.
Look for opportunities to meet new people in your field. You can find relevant events from professional associations or browse upcoming events on Meetup.org, but you can also spend time with old friends and coworkers. Arrange to have one coffee date a week. Expand upon your elevator pitch when you're chatting and ask everyone you know—fellow parents, teachers, and so on—if they can introduce you to someone in your field.
Balance your time between rekindling connections with your existing network and building new connections.
Don't forget to reach out to former employers.If you have a good relationship, these companies and managers may be eager to rehire you.
Have an Explanation for Your Resume Gap
Perhaps you want to emphasize your volunteer work. Or maybe it's a matter of simply saying, "I worked as a stay-at-home parent for the past few years."
Do know that interviewers will want to know what you've been up to, and a job that dates from five years ago might not seem relevant. Find out more tips for how to update your resume as a stay-at-home mom.