Re-entering the workforce after being a stay-at-home parent will have its challenges, but it will come with its fair share of advantages as well. With the rise in prominence of remote freelancing marketplaces, it is easier than ever to land a part-time or project-based role and get your foot in the door for a second time. Additionally, there are an array of online upskilling courses to choose from, which can help update your skillset to the current demands of the market. In this article, we’ll explore various other tips and tricks you can follow to make a smooth transition back into the workplace.
1. Set Clear Expectations
Before you start your job search, it’s important to have clarity regarding the type of roles you want to pursue and your short/long-term goals. While freelancing is a great way to restart your career, there is nothing stopping you from applying for permanent roles if the right opportunity presents itself. Here are a few questions that can help you gain clarity of thought:
● What is the number of hours you can dedicate each day to work?
● Are you willing to travel for a job or prefer to work from home?
● Is career growth still a priority, or would your focus simply be a good salary?
● Do you want your job to come with benefits such as healthcare, 401 (k), etc.?
● Do you want to work in the same industry or take on a new challenge?
2. Connect with Your Network
Conducting online research will provide you with great insights regarding roles you can target, for instance, according to research by LinkedIn, the following are the in-demand jobs on the market:
Customer Service Representative
But, if you want to understand the intricacies of each role and the best way to land them, the go-to option will be reaching out to your network, which can include past colleagues, friends, family, etc. Not only will they be able to guide you on how to navigate the current job market, but could refer you for roles as well. As reported by Naukri RMS, 88% of companies use referrals as their top mode of recruitment, making it a must-explore medium in your job search.
Additionally, use platforms such as LinkedIn to connect with professionals who hold positions you’re interested in. For instance, if you’re a marketing professional, send connection requests to numerous social media managers in your region and set up a quick chat, whether online or in person to learn about their experience, company culture, and the best practices they follow during interviews.
3. Update Your Job Application Essentials
A resume and a cover letter remain two important documents requested by employers, especially for permanent positions. When it comes to your resume, here are the best tips to follow:
List your work experience in chronological order, starting with the latest position.
Keep sentences short and include statistics to highlight your responsibilities and their impact. For example – increased follower count on Instagram by 200% within 3 months by regularly posting content and engaging with followers.
Name tools and software used during projects to highlight your experience using them
Spell-check your document before submitting applications.
Your cover letter should touch upon the main experiences mentioned in the resume, with a further explanation regarding the scope and result of the project. In each section of the cover letter, make connections to the main duties mentioned in the job posting. Your goal should be to convince the recruiter that you understand the position well and are the best fit for it.
To create an attractive and professional resume hiring managers won’t pass over, use an online resume maker. This is a go-to free option for affordably creating a resume that showcases your skills and experience. Choose a template and then personalize it by adding your own text, font type, and images.
Additionally, consider creating a website that can be used as a portfolio. For professionals pursuing creative roles such as blog writing, graphic design, photography, etc., having an online portfolio makes it easy to show employers what you’re capable of and stand apart from other applicants. You do not need any coding or programming experience to create a portfolio website, as there are numerous online tools you can use.
4. Assess Your Skills
If you’ve been a stay-home parent for a few years, the workplace is bound to have changed, whether that is through the introduction of new technology, management styles, business practices, etc. But, there will be numerous transferable skills you’ll possess from your past work experience and education, such as – communication, leadership, critical thinking, problem-solving and more that will be required in your new role as well.
Before considering yourself a good candidate for roles, it’s important to take the time to reflect and create an honest assessment of your skill set. If you find yourself lacking in key areas, don’t fret, as here are the various professional development opportunities to get yourself on equal footing with others:
Pursue a Master’s Degree: One of the best ways to learn about the latest management and business strategies is by earning an MBA.
Complete Online Certifications: Depending on your industry and job profile, you can look to pursue specialized certifications offered by companies such as Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. Most of these are free, self-learning, and act as a great addition to your resume.
5. Explore Multiple Job Options
Having a fresh educational credential on your resume will prove to be an advantage as it will signal to employers your commitment to re-entering the workforce and having the latest skills to excel in it.
In addition to permanent roles, here are other job opportunities you should explore:
Consider a Returnship: These are short or long-term positions dedicated to workers returning to the workforce. A plethora of major corporations such as HP, Goldman Sachs, Accenture, Intuit, and more have annual returnship programs.
Start with a Part-Time Role: Directly jumping into a full-time role can serve as a major lifestyle change and significantly reduce the time you can dedicate to family and other responsibilities. With a part-time role, you’ll earn a steady stream of income while getting used to the workplace and setting up a smooth transition toward a full-time role.
Look for Freelance Opportunities: If working from home is your priority, becoming a freelancer is the best option. Not only can you work for multiple clients, but have complete control over schedule and earnings. Additionally, by establishing an LLC, you’ll be able to use work expenses as tax write-offs and reduce your annual payments.
6. Prepare for Expected Interview Questions
Any interviewer is bound to inquire regarding the gap in your resume; hence, it is integral to prepare a well-framed answer. The best advice to follow is to be honest, if you chose to take a break from your career to become a stay-at-home mom/dad, that is exactly what you should express in an interview. Moreover, to turn the focus away from your past and onto the future, make connections between the responsibilities you handled in the previous role and the ones mentioned in the current one.
Highlight the key skills you possess and mention current degrees/certifications you’ve completed to update your skill set. Here's one example of how you can frame your answer:
“In my previous role, I worked as a software engineer for a prominent Philadelphia start-up for five years. I loved my job but decided to become a stay-at-home parent after the birth of my first child. As a software engineer, I was responsible for developing flowcharts, conducting tests, and overseeing the deployment of new software solutions for clients. I recently completed a Python certification, as I wanted to learn a new programming language in addition to Java and C++, which I have already used for projects.”
For subsequent questions, continue to highlight your skills and mention similarities to the role you are applying for. Additionally, highlight any volunteer or pro bono work you’ve done during your time away from the office, as it is a great way to show that you’ve still undertaken projects and have continued to use your skills and develop experience.
7. Be Persistent
According to research by Monster.com, a typical job search lasts around five months. Understandably this can seem like a long time, but each individual is different, and there are various factors such as the industry, job demand, and more that will affect the time taken to land a job.
The key to returning to the workplace will be to remain persistent in your job search. In addition to applying for roles daily, this will include networking, learning new skills, and exploring other professional development opportunities such as seminars. There could be roles for which you’re a perfect fit but never hear back from recruiters, while other times, you may get interview requests from companies you don’t expect a response from.
A few ways to stand out from other applicants are being proactive during and after applying:
If you haven’t heard back from recruiters within a few days of applying, share a follow-up email
After each interview, send a thank you email to the interviewer(s) with a recap of the key skills and experience you bring to the position
If working with a recruitment firm, be in constant contact with your recruiter regarding positions. Shortlist positions from their website and express your interest in applying. Additionally, before interviews, ask them for pointers based on their experience with the company.
From returnships and freelancing opportunities to traditional full-time roles, stay-at-home parents returning to the workforce have numerous options at their disposal. Designing a stellar resume is bound to boost your chances of getting hired. Additionally, by taking the time to get up to speed on the latest technologies and tools, you’ll separate yourself from the crowd and be back in the office in no time.
If you’re trying to navigate life, relationships, and parenting, visit Balancing Life & Kids to find supportive resources and tips.