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 Stay-at-Home Moms (and Dads) and Beginning a Successful Job Search

By Joe Stein

With the end of summer almost here, now is the time for many Stay-at-Home Moms (and Dads) to re-enter the workforce.  The situation may be temporary (as in the length of the school year) or in a more permanent in nature situation where your children are now of school age or have graduated.

While so much of a job search is universal to all, there are some nuances that relate most to a stay-at-home Moms (and Dads) attempting to return to the job market.  Let’s take a look at some items for you to review if you are in this situation:

• Perform a Skill Assessment – Be honest with yourself and determine whether the time you have been away has caused any erosion of the core skills needed to perform in your field.  I recommend speaking to some people who are doing the type of job that you previously performed. If you do find you have a skills gap, then some additional career training may be required to place you on-par with your competition for employment.

• Decide What Resume To Use – It is very tempting to use a Functional Resume in an attempt to “hide” your gap in employment.  I do not really recommend this direction, as Recruiters generally are not fans of this type of resume. The reality is that it will still be fairly easy to tell that you have been out for awhile.  Instead, use your Cover Letter as an opportunity to tell your story…you have been out of the workforce with your family.  Whatever format you decide to use it will be important to write a good resume that focuses on your results and accomplishments.  You will want to paint a picture that you were a strong performer before you left the workforce.

• Network – One of the major angst points of a returning stay-at-home is long dormant networking.  You have just been too busy raising your family to be networking with past colleagues and co-workers.  Luckily, modern technology has made it much easier for a person to reach out to others, via an online professional social networking tool such as Linkedin.  You may also have created an entirely new set of networking resources by volunteering at school, or in the community.  Leverage the resources you have for job leads and references.

• Leverage Your Activities – If you are a stay-at-home who has spent considerable time volunteering with school or local non-profits, then this may be an appropriate addition to your resume or application.  In particular, reconnect with any professional organizations in your field and volunteer to assist with events, meetings etc.  This will serve as a great networking activity and can, perhaps, enhance your resume.

• Know How Much You Are Willing to Commit – It is important to have a full conversation with your family prior to jumping back into the market.  Determine how much work you are willing to absorb in the work/life balance.  Focus on the level of position and responsibility that best fits where you currently are in your life. The time to determine how much work you are willing to commit to is not one month into the position.  Be honest with yourself and pursue positions that are a good fit for you.  As an aside, I recommend having your child care arrangements (if necessary) worked out prior to your job search.  It is not a question that an employer should ask you, but having this work done will better allow you to focus on what schedule to pursue and will also avoid any delays in starting a new job.

• Don’t Lack Confidence – It is very tempting to wallow in the mode of “who will want to hire me”.  This is a good mindset to have if you want to ensure that a prospective employer will not hire you.  You will need to be able to clearly and confidently communicate to the Hiring Manager how you will add value to the organization.  Do not apologize for your gap in employment; you made the decision to be a stay-at-home for good reason.  It may take a little time to find the position that you desire, so do not let some rejection shake your confidence.

• Practice – It has probably been awhile since you have been in an interview situation.  Use family members and friends as sounding boards for phone and in-person mock interviews.  Let them also review your Cover Letter and Resume for suggestions.

• Create a Job Search Schedule – It will be very tough to conduct your job search while still in stay-at-home mode.  You will have many people pulling you in different directions.  Make sure you carve out a dedicated time each day in your schedule to pursue your job search.

There are some inherent challenges to starting a job search after being a stay-at-home parent; however, it is nothing that is insurmountable.  By reviewing the list above, you can start preparing yourself for a successful job search.

As always, best of luck in your job search!