Easing Your Transition Back Into the Workforce
by Robin Ryan

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Motherhood is inarguably one of the hardest and most underpaid jobs in the world. As challenging and fulfilling as this role may be, many women who have left the workforce to become full-time mothers find themselves needing to rejoin it. In celebration of Mother's Day, below are some tips for moms in the process of embarking on a fresh start in their careers.

Admit it, you may not be sure how to start your job search, or what are the most effective job search techniques. Sometimes you aren't even sure exactly what career or job you want to do now. Many women want to restart a career after beginning a family, but with years out of the workforce they question their own worth and whether anyone would hire them. The job search process seems downright scary causing many women to stay on the sidelines. Sure there are pitfalls, lots of advice both good and bad, plus plenty of competition vying for the jobs. Having a workable action plan will take away some of your uneasiness. To get started:

  • Soul Search. Career happiness is a result of aligning your skills, your values and your interests. Do some self–analysis. Define the skills that you can offer an employer. Be sure to note any volunteer work you have performed that will be greatly valued by employers. Consider: What do I want to do? Where? Part–time or full? Narrow down the career options that seem ideal for you. Employers hire you to do a specific job and expect you to be able to define exactly what you can do to fit their need. Applying for everything and anything only wastes time—yours and the employer's. It's better to identify your top strengths and assess your abilities and experience (paid and volunteer). Consider what interests you most and focus on how to best apply your talents in a career in which you have a passionate interest. Research the potential job options available and select one or two interesting job titles to pursue.

  • Be ready to work. Employers hate working parents who don't show up and have proven to be undependable. Be prepared to clearly illustrate that you have solid, dependable daycare and a reliable backup plan so you won't skip out every time Johnny gets a runny nose. Consider setting up a co-op arrangement with other parents or neighbors to cover for you when your kids are sick. Anticipate any overtime requests, travel, and commute time too, when selecting a daycare which may have very ridged hours of service. A positive, "I will deliver the results needed" attitude will go a long way to aid you in landing a job.

  • Know where to find good leads. According to a recent study from the Society of Human Resources Managers, 86% of employers use online recruitment advertisements for open jobs. The Department of Labor stated that less than 4% of job seekers found their job on the Internet, and most of those were posted on the employer's website. According to the Department of Labor, networking accounts for 63% of all jobs filled. 63%! Start with everyone you know. Ask for referrals - people they know whom you should contact, anyone who might help pass your resume inside their company, or ask for names of other companies you should investigate. It's better to be direct and say, "I'm job hunting. Do you know anyone over at XYZ company?" versus, "Heard of any jobs? I need one."

  • Write a winning resume and cover letter. Employers give resumes less than a 15-second glance so a vague resume gets trashed immediately. Demonstrate results! A one-page resume stressing actions and noting results, such as increasing revenues, decreasing expenses, saving time or improving production are most influential. Use action verbs. Start each sentence with a powerful, descriptive action verb - such as established, managed, organized, etc. Proofread! Employers cited spelling and typographical errors among the top mistakes job hunters make. Cover letters are influential-use them. Apply FAST! Employers call the strong early-birds first, often leaving hundreds of resumes unread.

  • Be armed and ready for the interview. Employers make snap decisions. They state that most people lose the job in the first minute of the interview. Inappropriate attire is the worst culprit. Dress professionally. To be ready for the tough questions, practice writing out good answers to potential questions ahead of time. Role-play an interview with a friend to better prepare and eliminate nervousness. Keep answers to less than one minute, and use specific examples from your past experience whenever possible. Display a positive, eager-to-learn, enthusiastic attitude. It is a key trait employers want. And finally, always send a handwritten thank you note - emails are too quickly forgotten.

America's most popular career counselor, Robin Ryan, is a very proud mom as well as the author of four bestselling books: 60 Seconds & You're Hired!, Winning Resumes, Winning Cover Letters, and What to Do with the Rest of Your Life. She's appeared on over a thousand TV & radio shows including Oprah, Dr. Phil, NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, CNN, and CNBC, and has been published in most major newspapers and magazines including USA Today & the Wall Street Journal. Ms. Ryan may be reached via e-mail at info@robinryan.com.

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