How to Reenter the Workforce after Taking Parental Leave
Ready to reenter the workforce? What are your next steps? The market has changed, technology has advanced and you suddenly have a gap on your resume. So whether you have taken 6 months or 16 years, here are some tips to help you get back into the workforce.
What Do You Want To Do?
You are ready to go back to work, but what do you want to do? It’s a simple question, yet it’s not so easy to answer. Do you want to go back to what you were doing prior to having kids? Is it time for a career change? In what ways have your goals and needs changed? One way to gain some clarity into these questions would be a self-assessment. You can do a self-assessment on your own through self-reflection or with a friend or career coach. This could allow you to find out why you are returning to work and what your interests are. “It’s important to know what you’re looking for, but it’s equally important to be flexible. For example, you may desire part-time work, but such positions can be hard to find. Therefore, it may be more practical to look for a family-friendly employer that will allow you to have a flexible schedule. First, find out what you want to do, then figure out how to make it work.
Update Your Skills and Experience
“Try and stay “relevant” during your SAHM [stay at home mom/dad] years – consult or do project work periodically, become a columnist, speak on your industry topic at events, read industry publications, stay active on LinkedIn, go to business networking events periodically. Be open to ideas! Your Opt Back In career may be different than what you did before having kids. You might continue to consult, launch your own business or take a job doing something different that still utilizes your skillset.” There are tons of ways that you can update your skills and get some more relevant experience. Take a class, volunteer, and read job descriptions to find out what skills are most sought after in your field.
Update Your Resume
After you have decided what you want to do and you’ve brushed up on your skills, maybe even taken a class or two to update your experience, it’s time to update your resume. All of the normal resume tips apply here, make sure it’s not over 2 pages, double-check for grammatical errors, and don’t embellish. What may be different is your formatting, with a time gap a reverse-chronological resume is not the best, so try a combination resume or a functional resume instead. “Rather than focus on the employment gap, career-seekers should highlight volunteer experience and community involvement on their resume. Were you president of the PTA? Include it. Did you write the neighborhood newsletter? Add that, too. It is all valuable experience; just be sure to highlight the professional skills that you used in your volunteer positions.”
“Before you interview, learn as much as you can about the company and the person who is interviewing you. Prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer about the company and the position. During the interview, it’s your job to explain why you want to work for this company – and why you are the best candidate for the job. This is a time to exude confidence, even if you aren’t feeling very confident. Fake it till you make it. It’s always a good idea to do a few practice interviews with family and friends before you head to the real one.” Always make sure you are prepared for an interview, if you aren’t someone else will be. Research the company and your interviewer; be able to articulate why you want to work there and what you can bring to the employer if they hire you.
Your skills are updated, your experience is relevant, your resume is top-notch, and you’ve practiced interviewing. You are so ready! Spread the word. Connect with old colleagues, reach out to friends, and call the people you met at the conference last week. The more people who know you are looking for a job the better. Don’t act desperate, but let people know and help them help you. “Re-establish as many contacts in the field as you can. Let people know you are looking for a job, but do not put them on the spot by pressuring them about vacancies at their company. LinkedIn can be a valuable resource, as well as any trade organizations or social media groups that apply.”
Job hunting is hard enough without a time gap, so hopefully, these tips can help you get started. If you’d like some more tips, ideas, or help, give us a call.