Tips for Getting a Job After Being a Stay-at-Home Parent

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Are you ready to reenter the workforce after a stint as a stay-at-home parent? Whether it’s been five or 15 years since you last worked, it can be challenging to find a job, and jumping back into the corporate world may feel impossible. It’s definitely not, however. While the process can be daunting, the steps below will help you prepare for a successful transition back to work.

In addition to building your confidence, you will need to update your resume and cover letter. This can be tricky when you have an employment gap spanning several years, but you can lean on professionals to help you create or revise your resume and cover letter. Reach out to our experts for whatever assistance you need. 

1. Narrow your focus

First, you need to decide what type of job is the best fit for you. Do you want to return to the career you had before parenthood, or are you ready to explore new avenues? Maybe you acquired new skills or knowledge during your time as a stay-at-home parent, and this opens the door to an entirely new career. You also need to figure out if you can go back to full-time work or whether time constraints limit your choices. Perhaps you want to pick up some part-time work while your kids are at school. 

Money comes into play as well. You will need to earn enough to make the switch worthwhile. For example, you don’t want to go back to work just to pay your childcare bills. In addition, think about what hours you want to work. You might not be willing to accept a job where the hours only allow you to see your family a few hours a week.

On the other hand, it’s important to keep all your options open. You might be surprised to find that there’s something out there you never considered pursuing. Think about what you enjoy and the experiences you’ve had that may lead you into a new and exciting field.

2. Network

Whether it’s through social media, your kids’ sporting events, or emails with former colleagues, get out there and network. The adage “It’s who you know” holds true, and networking can help you land a job. Many positions are filled by people who have networked and made connections. Put yourself out there and join organizations, serve on committees, and volunteer. When you display passion and enthusiasm, people take notice and might recommend you for a job. Networking could open up job opportunities that you never even considered or thought possible before.

Use the connections you have made to vouch for your work ethic and quality of work. Reach out to your former boss and coworkers to let them know you are reentering the workforce. If you had a good relationship with them, they might be willing and able to help you find a new job. References don’t need to be from paid employment, either—connections from volunteer work or hobby groups can also offer valuable references.

3. Pursue professional development

Can you update any of your skills, gain new ones, or get certified in something that will help you land a job? If you’ve been out of the labor market for a long time, you probably are aware that technology has changed dramatically. Look at relevant online classes; there are many free ones that can bring you up to speed. Whether you’re brushing up on the latest trends in your pre-parenthood field or dipping your toes into an entirely new one, the abundance of free courses and information online can help you ease back into the professional world.

You can also find low-cost online or community classes that will allow you to update your knowledge or become certified in areas related to your career. In addition, you can do relevant volunteer work. You will acquire experience and knowledge and make even more connections. These are great ways to get something current on your resume.

4. Update your resume and social media

It can be intimidating to update your resume and cover letter, especially if your last resume was created immediately after your college graduation. However, this is one of the most important steps in reaching the interview stage. If you have volunteered, taken new classes, obtained certifications, or done anything relevant to the job you’re applying for, you need to include it. 

If you have nothing to add to your resume, at least update the format and consider providing an explanation in your cover letter. A hiring manager probably won’t be too enthused about an applicant with a huge gap in their employment history, but if you explain that you took time off to raise your kids, they’ll be a lot more forgiving.

Refresh your social media before you start your job search! Either create or update your LinkedIn profile. Again, add any new skills, certifications, or experience, especially if you’re starting in a new field. Be sure to upload a recent, professional-looking profile picture. LinkedIn not only allows you to showcase your abilities, but it also lets you connect with other professionals. Use this tool to network, reconnect, and get advice from other members.

It’s also critical to check your personal social media sites. Scrutinize your accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms and remove anything objectionable or questionable, or set your sites to private. Hiring managers will examine anything they find, and you don’t want your job hunt to fail because someone stumbled across something inappropriate. It’s a good idea to clean up your social media profiles well before you apply for jobs because it can take several weeks for Google’s search results to update.

5. Try part-time or freelance first

Even if you want to work full time, don’t rule out a part-time or a freelance job. If you’re moving into a new field, this is a great way to learn and grow. It also allows you to figure out whether you like this new path before fully committing. Another benefit is that many freelance jobs allow you to work from home, giving you more time to tend to the kids while simultaneously earning an income.

In addition, if you can’t find full-time work in your previous career, starting out part time can help you highlight your talents, work ethic, and personality and might eventually land you a full-time position.

6. Be prepared to explain gaps in employment

When you reach the interview stage, confidently tell the hiring manager that you took time off to raise your children and are now ready to reenter the working world and concentrate on your career. Let them know what you have to offer and show them that you WANT to return, not that you NEED to.

You don’t have to hide the reason for the gap in your resume. Plenty of people choose to take time off to raise their children. Use this to your advantage and let the hiring manager know about any freelance gigs, volunteer work, or side jobs that you did during this time. You can also leverage the skills you applied as a stay-at-home parent since it requires managerial finesse to run smoothly a household with children. Think creatively.

While you shouldn’t apologize for being a stay-at-home parent, it is important that you don’t focus on your kids in your interview. In fact, aside from telling the interviewer that you stayed home to raise your children, don’t mention them again at all. Talking about them too much (or at all) could make it seem like you may not be dependable or don’t really want to work. Make the interview about yourself and what you can do for the company.

Embrace the fact that you stayed at home with your kids and feel confident that you did the best thing for yourself and your family. Now you can switch gears and get excited about focusing on your career. These steps should help you move forward and confidently reenter the world of work. If putting together a resume and a cover letter on your own feels like a daunting task, let our professionals do it for you

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