Planning to return to the workforce? This may sound like a brand new challenge if you've left your career for sometime. Useful tips await!
Are you a stay at home mother itching to return to the workforce, now that your children are older? Or are you stuck, uncertain of how to stage your comeback after a long break? Don’t worry, we’re here to help you—just follow these 7 simple tips and you could be well on your way to a new career!
Keep an open mind and don’t feel restricted by what you did before you became a stay-at-home parent. Most basic job skills are transferable—project management, team management, administration, and so on—so do explore your options to see what else is available to you.
Be honest about your time as a stay-at-home mom! Don’t try to hide it, because recruiters will notice. But at the same time, don’t try to sneak it into your résumé as “domestic engineer” or something equally silly. Do mention what else you’ve been up to: volunteer work, online classes; anything else that shows you’ve kept yourself challenged and continued to hone your skills although other than a corporate setting.
You can use your cover letter to briefly mention you stayed at home to raise your family, but avoid going into too much detail over it—you want them to know you’re qualified for the job, so focus on emphasising how that is the case, instead. Talk about your previous work experiences, and the skills you bring to the table and how you are able to value-add to the company and the new role.
Were you an active parent volunteer at your child’s school? Did you start your own side-business in baking cakes for birthday parties? Or maybe you helped your local church manage their Twitter and Facebook feeds? All of these tasks involve useful, transferable skills that you can easily include in your CV or talk about during job interviews. Social media management is a hot, desirable skill in the new employment landscape, for example. Organising a school event shows you can manage projects under time and budget constraints. Engaging in your own small business demonstrates your entrepreneurship and money skills.
It’s all about packaging yourself as excitingly as possible—make sure those recruiters know just how capable you are! One note of caution though – do not oversell yourself and over-promise more than you can deliver.
You left the workforce once before. Are you going to do it again? Like it or not, recruiters and hiring managers will wonder about this, so it’s up to you to reassure them that you are back for good. A note in your cover letter can go a long way—e.g. “I have been on sabbatical since October 2010 to attend to my family; specifically my children who were in their formative years. Now that they are older, I feel energized and am keen to re-join the workforce permanently.”
Interviewers and potential employers can sniff out if you are half-hearted about wanting the job. If you feel that you are unable to commit, perhaps it’s wise to reassess and consider your options and what you are really after.
While you’ve been stuck elbow-deep in changing diapers and arranging playdates, the working world has moved on without you. Much will have changed while you were gone, not only in the technical sense of your field, but also in terms of working culture and employee expectations. Be mentally prepared to update your knowledge and skills. Read as much as you can to get up to speed with all the changes. Trade websites, for example, are a great place to acquire news relevant to your field. Speaking to people in the same industry can help gain insights into the new environment too, so be sure to do your homework before that.
Like it or not, succeeding in the working world is all about making good connections. Indeed, many job positions are actually filled because recruiters or hiring managers have tapped into their own network of contacts to find suitable candidates. But you don’t need to be gainfully employed to be making useful connections—your child has school mates and/or friends from extra-curricular activities or the playground, and all of those children have parents. A parents’ network won’t just be an emotional support; you might find it a useful place to ask around for new employment opportunities.
Be Realistic & Persistent
The field is not as against you as you might think. Indeed, studies have shown mothers are actually more productive in the workplace, perhaps because the all-encompassing experience of raising a child into a functioning member of society makes a person more mature and better at both time and people management. Nonetheless, it is never easy to return to work after a long break. Be realistic in setting your expectations, but don’t be quick to give up. You might have to face a few non-replies or rejections before you hit on that perfect job.
Now that you’ve made the decision to return to the workforce, do be prepared for the challenges ahead and give yourself some time to transition into the swing of things. Do ask yourself how you foresee the new job will fit into your life and it’s always important to maintain work-life balance. If your kids are in the good hands of a trusted caregiver (e.g. in school or with the grandparents), you can set your mind at ease to focus on your career, which helps make things a tad better. Everyone starts somewhere, and before long, you’ll be taking it like fish to water.
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The above article was written by Yamini Chinnuswamy, and first appeared on ResumeWriter.SG, Singapore’s leading résumé writing firm. For ideas on how to improve your CV, read their guide on How to Write A Great CV.