Maybe your husband has just been laid off or rising prices require additional household income, or a divorce has increased your financial responsibilities, or you just want some adult interaction. Whatever the reason, returning to work after being an at-home mom can present its own set of challenges, especially during this ailing job market.
Making the decision to return to work is never an easy one. I remember my little guy was one year old and my daughter was three when I was faced with the decision. All you can do is weigh the pros and cons, then make your decision using both your head and your heart.
The bad news
The economic slowdown is creating a rise in the unemployment rate. In addition, a market flooded with downsized professionals and recent college grads all having sharper, more updated skills means the competition will be tough. Be honest with yourself… finding the right job will be difficult.
The good news
Don’t let this discourage you. If you think smart, anticipate the challenges, and then meet them head-on, you should be able to improve your odds of success in the job market.
While still working as an at-home-mom, it’s important to:
- Keep contact with previous co-workers who can point you towards possible job opportunities.
- Maintain memberships in professional organizations.
- Attend industry events.
- Take online or community college classes to keep current on skills.
- If possible, work part time or volunteer to fill resume gaps and help hone in on skills.
Looking for more tips? Check out our column Working Mom 3.0 >>
First things first
Before you begin job-hunting, assess your own personal situation to determine if going back to work is right for you.
You’ll need to determine your bottom-line net income requirements. What kind of salary will adequately benefit your financial situation after you deduct the cost of childcare, work clothes, transportation, taxes, and other expenses?
You’ll need to consider your children’s ages, family’s schedule, and childcare availability to determine the shift and number of work hours per day that you’ll be able to accept. Many jobs include out-of-town travel for various lengths of time. How might that scenario work into your home situation?
From the employers perspective:
Once you’ve determined your own personal needs, make an assessment of how you will look from the employer’s perspective. What are your shortcomings and how will you approach them? What can you do to increase your chances of being marketable?
- Face gaps in your resume honestly. You do have legitimate reasons for choosing the most important job in the world – being a mom.
- Include volunteer work on your resume as on-the-job experience.
- Create multiple resumes emphasizing your strengths in multiple job markets.
- Be open-minded to educational advancement, especially if a potential employer is willing to foot the bill for tuition.
- Strengthen weak interview skills with training and practice.
- Have an interview outfit or two that is clean-cut and professional.
- Network with parents of other children as a valuable resource for job potential and references.
- Select talented employment recruiters to assist you in your search.
- Keep interviews focused on your assets as a potential employee, veering away from talk of children and childcare.
Talking to the kids
Making your decision to return to work and preparing yourself is only part of your challenge. You still need to talk to your older children about your decision and how it will impact their lives and their time with you. Be honest and self-assured that you will still find time for them (and mean it).
On your mark, get set, go!
You’ve weighed the pros and cons and worked on making yourself marketable. You’ve done all your homework. Now be flexible and maintain a positive mindset, knowing that you have valuable skills to contribute in the workforce. Most of all, stay true to your financial bottom line and your family’s needs. With diligence, hard work and patience, all the rest will fall into place.