Photo: Flickr/David Goehring
You’ve spent the last few years changing diapers, taking turns waking up at night and making countless trips to your pediatrician’s office.Now that your child is older, you want to pick up where you left off with your career. You want more than play dates and carpools. You may have even taken a few years off to spend more time with your growing children, as your demanding work schedule would not allow for it before.
Regardless of the reason, you took a few years off and are now part of the job applicant pool. What are some things mums need to keep in mind when returning to the workforce?
Make a lifestyle choice. As a mother, it is often a very conflicting decision to leave your child and go back to work full-time. Understandably, the separation can be heartbreaking and is not something everyone can endure.
Before you decide to start sending out resumes and going on interviews, discuss this thoroughly with your spouse and make sure it is the right decision for your situation. Once you return to work, your lifestyle will change significantly and it is crucial to have the support of your spouse or family members. Job hunting can take a significant amount of time, so make a firm decision and stand by it.
Get advice. Once you are confident behind your decision to head back to work, get in touch with as many recruiters and past colleagues as you can. Get a feel for what to expect at interviews and in the office. Many things could have changed in the past few years and what worked earlier may not be as important today.
You may need to revamp your resume or you may need to focus on a different job role or industry. Since it has been a while since you have gone on an interview, do some research to brush up on popular interview questions and conduct a practice interview with a recruiter or career coach. Also, make it known to your friends and family that you are currently looking for work. Chances are, they may know of an opportunity you are perfect for.
Get social. You may not have been a fan of social media before, but now it’s crucial to research companies and positions online. Use Twitter to follow companies you are targeting and actively engage them in conversations as often as possible. Register on LinkedIn to build your professional presence online and to reconnect with previous colleagues. You can even search job openings on LinkedIn and apply to certain companies with their built-in application form.
Help yourself stand out. Unfortunately, there will be employers out there that will not understand why you took some time off. They may not think you made the right decision to stay at home and may view the time off as a negative.
It is important you don’t let this bring you down and instead try to incorporate your experience at home into your career. Make yourself stand out by highlighting some of the things you were able to do while taking care of your family. Perhaps you volunteered with a charity that raises money for breast cancer research. Or maybe you were board member at your child’s school and helped organise events. Activities like this differentiate you from other candidates and show your maturity and ability to adapt to new situations.
Be flexible. While you may have a strong idea of the industry and position you are seeking, be open to suggestions in a new role. Use the transferable skills you developed in the first few years of your career and explore roles you have not thought about before.
Do you think it always makes sense for mums to return to the workforce?
Andy Von Kennel is the co-founder of TruYuu, an online service that helps people present themselves as more than just a resume to employers. You can connect with Andy and the TruYuu team on Facebook and Twitter.
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