Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Stay-at-Home Mothers Returning to the Workforce

Some mothers decide to return to work after six or more years of being a stay-at-home parent. This large gap in employment has often been a turn-off for potential employers. Even if you decide to return to the field of work you were in before temporarily retiring, there is often still an old-fashioned stigma associated with mothers abandoning their careers to stay home and raise a family.

Although this thinking is out-of-date and unfair, it still exists. Many employers fear that you will not be fully committed to the job. Be confident. Many working mothers today have more experience under their belt and bring more to the table than the younger crowd.

Showcase skills obtained while raising a family. Raising a family is no easy task and many of the skills honed are marketable and transferable into the workforce. Even though today’s work force is filled with young, well-educated individuals, mothers have wisdom and maturity, which are unattainable without life experience. They offer a different perspective in the business world. Positively embrace the time you were able to spend at home and even let employers know that you feel lucky to be able to have spent the time you did at home.

By staying at home you have mastered: inventory control, purchasing, planning, budgeting, scheduling, motivation, teaching, good work ethic, loyalty, persistence, communication, time-management, people skills, multitasking and probably a dozen other skills necessary for raising a family. If you were to read this list of skills in a different context, it would appear that all the skills required to carry out typical business operations were specified. This should boost your self-assurance while transitioning back into the workforce.

Stay connected. Remain in touch with employment contacts you made while working. You never know when you will need their help again. Employee referrals are vital in the hiring process. Networking is also helpful in finding new contacts within your field. It wouldn’t hurt to brush up on workforce happenings by attending seminars, events or local classes/programs. You never know who you will meet.

Keep up to date with the ever-changing workforce. If you have been out of the workforce for six or more years, chances are that technology has passed you by. Basic IT skills, such as Internet navigation and the ability to send e-mails, are now required for almost every position. In order to remain competitive, consider taking online courses or even those offered at local community colleges. If your career requires specific certifications, make sure those are current.

You also want to update your resume and cover letter. References, skills and experience are gained over time and you want to make sure these are included. When you find a job that you feel matches your skills and that you would be able to perform, create an appealing application to present to employers. Your resume and cover letter should be skills-based instead of highlighting the employment gaps. Do not be afraid to mention any volunteer work you have done while out of the paid workforce. This unpaid work can often translate into a paid opportunity.

Overall, remain positive. If a perspective employer does not recognize your extensive resume after working as a stay-at-home mother, then you probably do not want to work for them anyway. Be patient, the right job is out there.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your advice is all well and good, but the Internet does those of us in this situation a big disservice. We look bad on paper and so we never get a call. Frankly, I'm very disappointed. I need to reenergize my career because my spouse dropped me after 15 years. I'm raising three kids and barely getting by on child support. It would be a big boost to my ego knowing that employers out there acknowledge that I do have a college education, I worked my tail off for nearly ten years full-time and I dabbled in other fields part-time while a stay-at-home parent. I can't even begin to give my kids what my ex does. And why is that? Because he had me supporting and encouraging him in his climb up the corporate ladder. Where is my support now?