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Job hunting is stressful enough when you're in the employed workforce. Taking time out to raise a family might make the return to work seem daunting. Communications consultant Robin Madell, writing for U.S. News & World Report.com in 2013, commented on a survey that reported more than 50 percent of working adults felt that a significant break from employment would be detrimental to careers. While it's a common fear, you can minimize the effects of your mom-time with strategic planning and self-branding.
"Flexibility is your best friend when returning to work," says Marion Szabado, career counselor in Buffalo, New York. "Whether you're returning to a field you worked in previously or looking at something new, you're going to transfer skills from your mom time. Unless you have urgent need to be earning, take time to assess your skills and consider what jobs these might suit." Tara Weiss spoke with author Vivian Rabin for Forbes.com about assessing what you liked and disliked about past jobs. Rabin suggests focusing on the aspects of previous work that you enjoyed and the skills that accompanied these. Compare them with other jobs and industries that need those skills.
The Mom Network
Careers writer Sharon Reed Abboud points to the need for networking to build the "who you know" part of your job hunt. Szabado agrees and points to the people you meet through your children. "Of course, the parents of your children's friends are going to be child-oriented," she says. "Many parents swap Facebook friendships, and making a leap to LinkedIn is not only logical, it's a very practical way to stay current even before you start your return-to-work job hunt." Speaking with Abboud, career coach Mary Ann Blackwell estimates 80 percent of professional women find jobs through contacts.
Sourcing Available Jobs
"One problem with posted job listings," says Szabado, "is that the process of writing the posting means the company has an ideal candidate in mind. Chances are that a mom returning to the workforce is not on the list of qualifications. This doesn't rule you out, but it adds challenges to your approach." The power of making cold calls is that a recruiter may see you as a candidate before there's a job opening. "You don't know where the ideal job is going to come from," says Szabado. "It may be through networking, cold calling or a job board listing, so determine ways to combine sources for the best chances at success."
Leadership professor Monica McGrath tells Weiss that no mom should be apologetic or defensive about time out of the work force to raise kids. Szabado agrees. "Treat it like any other job," she says. "Even if you use a functional resume format to downplay your at-home mom time, be confident and present it as a career decision, because it really is. However, deal with your transferable skills as they relate to the job you're seeking, not how you acquired them as a mom. While the connection may seem perfectly logical to you, it might take the recruiter's visualization out of the workplace," she says.