Planning Your Future
5 Tips for Re-Entering the Workforce After Baby
Turn Your Time Away Into a Valuable Job-Seeking Resource
Whether you've been home with baby for a few years or stayed with the kids until they left the nest, it's never too late to re-enter the workforce. These easy tips allow you to conveniently harness the power of your time away when considering a new career.
There's no doubt that being a stay-at-home parent is a full-time job. For the 5 million moms and 200,000 dads who stay home with kids in the United States, it's an occupation that requires developing and perfecting such transferable skills as budgeting, organizing, communicating, multitasking, negotiating and managing conflicts. Handling a difficult co-worker may be alarmingly similar to dealing with a toddler, mid-tantrum. But the professional accomplishments of the parenting track don't always translate on a résumé when you make the decision to re-enter the 9-to-5 workforce.
Whether you've spent months or years parenting full time, getting back into the swing of the working world takes some time, energy and adjustment. Here are a few tips that may help.
Evaluate your options. Having children is life changing, and it very well may have shifted your priorities when it comes to a career. If you know you want to go back to work but aren't sure what career you want to pursue or what jobs would best match your existing skill set, there are career evaluation resources at your fingertips, such as those at CareerOneStop.com, a site sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Rework your résumé. Dust it off, and be honest about the chronology. Explain it in your cover letter and speak to it briefly in a killer executive summary at the top of your résumé. Don't be shy about including any part-time work or volunteer efforts you may have done during your time with the children, such as organizing a charity event or helping out with an after-school program.
Tap into your network. Many jobs are found via networking. So take some time off from surfing job sites and make lunch dates with professionals in your desired field or with former employers, especially those who may have come back to work after having a baby themselves. Explain your goals, ask for opinions and advice, and collect contacts. Take advantage of networking events. Another great resource may be the alumni network or career services center at your former college or university.
Get your toes wet. Just because you haven't landed the job yet, doesn't mean you can't start working. Look into part-time opportunities or internships that can help beef up your résumé in the field you want to enter, especially if it differs from your previous experience. If you have time, enroll in a continuing education course online or at a nearby university to build new applicable skills. Set up a home office in a private space, away from the melee of the playroom, where you can go to work or study.
Ask for constructive criticism. Didn't get the job? Don't be afraid to ask for feedback on your interviews. It can go a long way in helping to improve your résumé or interviewing skills, and it may even create a new contact in the process.
Jessica Marshall is a pop culture and tech journalist based in New York.