5 Things to Do When Returning to the Workforce

Here's how to prepare to go back to working motherhood

5 Things to Do When Returning to the Workforce
••• Getty Images / Robert Daly

Let's say you are one of the 44% of working moms who left their job to care for their family and it's time to head back to the workforce. There are some things you can do to better your chances of landing in the right role that will make returning to working motherhood worthwhile.

Here are five things you can do when you're thinking about returning to the workforce.

Get Back in the Game

It's time to get caught up on your industry news. Check out journals or books from your library. Find articles and popular websites that would get you up-to-date. If you're unsure where to start looking for resources, log into LinkedIn to see what groups your connections are in. In these professional groups there will be suggested resources that you'll want to research later.

Talk to your network about returning to the workforce. You need to get the word out! You don't need to post something on social media unless you feel comfortable doing so. But start telling people you're looking to return to the work. Before sharing this great news get clear about what kind of job you're looking for. This way you're prepared to answer questions about your job search.

Reconnect With Your Professional Contacts

If you left work on a good note it's a great idea to keep in touch with your former boss and co-workers. Periodically invite them to lunch or give them a call to catch up. If you haven't stayed in touch it's never too late to reach out.

Are you unsure what to talk about? Besides sharing what you have been up to take the opportunity to catch up on the company's latest news, changes in the industry, or what former clients are doing. When you keep these relationships fresh they will be better resources and references when you are ready to return to work.

Find Ways to Fill Your Professional Gap

Returning to work won't happen instantaneously. It takes some time to find the right job! You could use this time performing a contract job or freelance work to help fill your gap.  In today's economy, many companies are open to the idea of contract workers, especially for big projects or to help launch new initiatives. This way of working allows you to keep your skills fresh or it could help you learn a new skill set to be used in a new career!

Also, you could use volunteer work to help fill your professional gap. To do so keep a detailed list of the projects you have worked on with your school's PTA, school fundraisers, or charitable organizations. Make a special note if you were in a leadership role like a large event or project.

How to Manage the Gap on Your Resume

Even though you don't want to hide the period of time you were out of the workforce, you don't want to highlight it either. Err on the side of caution and avoid addressing your mom duties with cute descriptions like "domestic goddess" or "Smith Family CEO."

Instead, organize your resume by work experience and related skills instead of including a chronological listing of your work history. This way you can highlight activities and skills from your time away from work including volunteer work, fundraising efforts, continuing education, and contract or freelance work. While these skills are pertinent and certainly transferable to the workplace, remember that you are applying for a job. The majority of your resume should focus on specific work experience, achievements, and successes.

Submit a Cover Letter That Shows You Did Your Homework

Your cover letter is designed to grab the reader's attention and entice them to read your resume. It's also super critical to moms looking to return to work because it gives you the opportunity to share your story. You want to share why you're interested in their company, what skills you have that would make their company more successful, and your specific accomplishments.

Be sure your cover letter is top notch. Check all grammar (use the app, Grammarly!!) and spelling. Also, try to find the name of the company's recruiter or HR manager to personalize the letter. It shows you made an effort to get to know the company and checked out their company on LinkedIn.

Bridge the Gap in Person or On Paper

Here's how to address your professional gap in your cover letter. The recruiter may be curious so be honest and to the point about your gap in employment. You can say something like you left the workforce to care for family and since they are older now you are eager to return to the workforce. 

During phone interviews and face-to-face interviews, acknowledge your gap in employment in a matter of fact way. You could say something like, "You may have noticed a gap on my resume. After the birth of my second child, I made the decision to stay home with my children. I'm the type of person who puts 150 percent into everything I do. At that point, I felt that those efforts were best focused on my family. Now that my children are older, I'm at a point where I'm once again able to commit 150 percent to an employer.

I'd like to discuss some of my past successes and achievements, both from my previous work history and my time out of the workforce."

Be confident when making these statements and the interviewer will have confidence in you as well. After all, what's really important to the interviewer is whether you are the right person for the position and are willing to put the appropriate time and effort into making it a success.

The most important to thing about returning to the workforce is the excitement! Your life is about to change for the better. But with change comes uncertainty and anxiety. If you start to feel discouraged go search Pinterest for new outfit ideas. Dream about what life will be like when you are at work. Dreaming about what your next job will make it seem more possible and keep you positive.

Best of luck in your job search!