Are you going back to work after taking time off to raise your kids? These tips will help you feel and act more confident about your skills and experiences.
Jumping back into the job market after you’ve been out for a while is scary — especially if your most recent “boss” was a six-year-old. Many stay-at-home moms are unsure of where to begin when it comes to looking for work outside the home.
But what many moms may not realize is that their time at home can actually be a benefit during their job search. You may have learned new skills (and I’m not talking about maneuvering a full cart at Target while trying to keep a baby and toddler both happy). It’s important to talk up these skills when re-entering the workplace and use them to your advantage.
Not sure what I’m talking about? Let me give you a personal example.
My kids attended a small elementary school. The principal knew I was a writer and asked if I could help her write some grants for the school. I learned the ropes of how grant requests are put together and worked on a few.
Fast forward a couple of years: I was asked by a potential client if I had any grant writing experience. Did I? Yes, I did. Even though my work experience was unpaid, it provided valuable experience that led to paid work.
Here are some additional ideas of how helping out at a school or a non-profit can turn into resume-worthy experience: (Click here to tweet these parental ideas.)
Are you a planning pro?
Did you help plan a class party or other school related activity? Planning events not only takes patience, but good organizing skills, too.
Be sure to talk up these event-planning skills at your next job interview and explain how you pulled various elements together. You don’t have to specify that you planned a Halloween party for kindergartners — just speak in general about your planning experience.
Have you shown leadership?
Did you serve on any school or other organizational committees? Those commitments require leadership as well as cooperation and collaboration skills.
If your career was related to finances, consider serving as the group’s treasurer or another fiscal role to keep your skills sharp. Be sure to mention leadership positions you’ve had and what you’ve learned from them.
Are you an expert fundraiser?
Did you help with a school or organization fundraiser? Maybe you helped procure items for a silent auction by writing letters or making calls. That’s a valuable skill you can tout in your resume or introductory note.
Be sure to keep any professional certifications or licenses up to date even when you’re not working. Try to also stay in touch with former colleagues – even if you’re just Facebook friends – so when you’re ready to jump back in, you can let them know. Those connections may have leads on potential jobs.
How to explain a time gap on your resume
When putting together resumes, stay-at-home moms obviously have a work experience gap. But that’s nothing to shy away from. Include volunteer work under a “relevant experience” header. Discuss your responsibilities, what you accomplished and how long you served. Maybe you helped the school plan a fundraiser or assisted a friend with some PR for her new business. Those roles are worth mentioning.
When writing your cover letter, be up front about the gap in your resume. You could even say something like, “I am now ready to jump back into the workforce after spending time at home with my children. It was a wonderful experience – and one I wouldn’t change for the world – but I am ready to resume my career.”
Besides readying your resume, you also need to prepare yourself. As career coach Delmar Johnson writes, it’s natural to be a little afraid about re-entering the workforce. But don’t let that fear hold you back.
Don’t procrastinate. Write down the different steps you need to take to reach your goal: networking, working on your resume and cover letter, checking out job boards. Break this big task of reinvigorating your career into manageable steps to feel more in control of the changes to come.
Restarting your professional career after being home with children is possible with some smart planning and careful wordsmithing.
Moms: What strategies have you used when returning to work after a break?
MaryBeth Matzek is a freelance writer and busy mom of two. You can find more of her writing at www.1bizzywriter.com.