How to Find a Job After Being a Stay-at-Home Mom
Ready to Return to the Workforce? Here's How to Make the Transition
Are you a stay-at-home mom (or dad) going back to work? As busy, important, and rewarding as it may have been, to employers, this time away from the workplace can easily be dismissed as a gap in your resume.
Job Search Tips for Getting Back Into the Workplace
So how can SAHMs show off their talents, get back in a networking groove, and be top of the list for 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 job application basics.
- Resume: Along with your cover letter, your resume is the most important document you'll create for your job search. Refresh your resume 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 out 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 much more.
- Personal Website: Depending on your field, you may find it helpful to create a personal website to showcase your writing, design, or other work in an online portfolio. Get information on how to create a personal website.
Prepare Your Elevator Pitch
Do you stumble when people ask you what you do? 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." Or "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 Certification
Classes, conferences, or certifications can be a good way 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 re-engaging, these types of group situations are a great opportunity for networking.
Just like attending classes and networking, volunteering can be a 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 drive—it's 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 great way to ease into the job search is to set up meetings with recruiters and staffing agencies. Not only will these organizations potentially connect you with a job, but also interviewing with them is also a good way to get a refresher of 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 could reasonably fit into his schedule even when he was fairly certain he'd 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, networking is 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 co-workers: 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, etc—if they can introduce you to someone in your field.
Balance your time between rekindling connections with your existing network, and building up your network more. 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 mom 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.