5 Tips For Stay At Home Moms Returning To Work
As a stay-at-home for 10+ years (working part-time here and there) I really did feel content with my career choice and where I was in life. It was the hardest job I ever had and we had to make many sacrifices in order for me to stay home. However, in the back of my mind I always knew I wanted to head back to work after my youngest got to kindergarten. Of course, I always had "time" to think about what I wanted to do and who I was going to be. "Time" that is, until last fall when my baby took his first steps into his kindergarten classroom. Where did the time go? What happened to me? Who was I now and what did I want to do with my life moving forward?
The decision to head back to the workforce is not an easy one and unfortunately I can't help you much with that decision- it's personal. Because I've been both a working mom and a stay-at-home mom, I feel fortunate knowing that each role isn't perfect and comes with it's list of pros and cons, and that's exactly where I'd start in your decision making process- make that list of pros and cons. While your at it, do some soul searching and take some time for self discovery in what your passionate about (and don't be discouraged if it isn't what you were doing pre-children). Below are some other tips that helped me get ready to head back to work.
Let Go of Your Fears
Wow! This is a big one and the most important to me. The idea of returning to work can send your mental wellness into an oblivion. The amount of anxiety about what you want to do, whether your skills are relevant in the workforce anymore, and other self doubts can really mess with your confidence. Take solace in knowing that you have been working hard running a household and raising little human beings (talk about multi-tasking). Be gentle with yourself, and take care of yourself throughout this entire process. This includes when you do finally land that first job back. Understand that it's going to take time for you and your family to adjust to this new schedule, and don't expect to learn everything overnight.
Make A List of Your Skills
Once you've soul searched and narrowed down the industry you're interested in, it's time to make a list of what your skills are and where there are skill gaps. Research classes that you can take at the library, local community college or a certificate program online to get you reacquainted and up to speed on what you're missing. And don't forget to include those skills attained from hours of volunteer work.
Network Both Personally and Socially
It's amazing how word of mouth and connecting with friends and past colleagues can help get your foot in the door. According to a survey done by LinkedIn, 85% of all jobs are filled via networking, so now's the time to reach out and ask the necessary questions to get a better understanding about current standards of experience and technology. Use LinkedIn and other social platforms to network and research trends in the industry you are interested in. According to Patty White, COO and co-founder of Reboot Accel, "For those returning to work after a career pause the percentage of jobs secured through connections is even higher, which makes networking critical." And she says your network is closer than you think. "Returners need to start seeing potential connections everywhere- on the sidelines of the soccer field, in the line at Starbucks, and of course at events they seek out related to the industry or job they're pursuing."
Consider Part-Time or Temp Work
Maybe taking baby steps into the workforce isn't quite as overwhelming and will give you more time to adjust to being back to work. What better way to dabble in an industry you're interested in, but not 100% sure you want to make a career out of it. Or who knows, that part-time job could put your foot in the door and turn into something full-time in the future.
Be Prepared to Answer Questions About Your Job Gap
Once an interview is secured you're almost certain to be asked about your gaps in employment. Be mindful and prepared about this question and how you want to address it. Keep your answer brief and honest- you don't need to divulge your whole life story. Confirm that you took time away for personal reasons (and by adding that you were a stay-at-home mom is fine), which was the right decision for you and that particular time in your life. Make sure to exude confidence and relay that you're ready AND exited to be back to work.
If you've been out of the workforce for one year or 10 years, congratulations on considering the opportunity to return to work, for reexamining who you are what makes you happy. That's what most important. I hope these tips help in some way to know that you're not alone, and you will succeed in this new adventure.
Happy New Beginning!
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