If you’re a stay-at-home mum who wants to get back in the game after stepping away from the workforce, you may feel quite overwhelmed, despite the excitement and the prospect of returning to work. Where do you start? How do you find a job? How do you explain the “parenting gap” in your resume?
We’ve put together some useful tips to answer your questions and guide you in your journey back to work.
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Refresh or upgrade your skills
You might want to go back to the same industry you were working in previously, or you might want to jump ship and enter an entirely new industry. Either way, you’ll need to equip yourself with the necessary skills and knowledge for the job. Even if you’re planning to go back to the same industry, it’s always good to refresh your industry knowledge and brush up on your skills to get yourself back up to speed. These days, there are a lot of short courses offered by various TAFE colleges and universities, and many of these you can take online. Online courses can be a real game-changer (for mums especially!), as they offer flexibility and allow you to take courses on your own schedule and at your own pace.
The job hunt and the power of networking
Most jobs are found through networking, so make sure you spread the word. Let friends, family members, former colleagues, and neighbours know that you’re looking for work. Don’t be shy--ask your former colleague out for a coffee, or chat to other mums during a playdate to let them know about your plan to re-enter the workforce. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the job opportunities you can come across through connections. Another way to establish connections is by getting in touch with your alumni association. Attend upcoming events and join professional groups to connect with contacts who may be able to help with your job hunt.
Updating your resume
Many mums are concerned with the “gap” in their resume. How do you cover up that gap in your employment history and how do you market yourself after not being employed for a while? We all know being a stay-at-home parent is most probably the hardest job in the world, and that throughout this time you develop a list of amazing skills and qualities. As a mum, you can multi-task like no other, your ability to handle disputes is second-to-none, and your budgeting skill may be exceptional. So instead of selling yourself short, you need to highlight and include these skills in your resume.
Also remember that you’re not restricted to just full-time paid work when it comes to listing your career history. Think of all the experiences you’ve been involved in. If you’ve volunteered at school, helped out at the local fundraising event, or assisted your partner with book-keeping for their business; go on and list them all. Those types of activities can definitely be relevant as they showcase skills that are highly desirable in the workplace.
You might be worried that it may be difficult to find work with flexible working hours. You’ll be pleased to know that nowadays, more and more employers embrace flexibility when recruiting talent. A lot of companies are now placing more emphasis on output and productivity, and less on face time. Don’t be afraid to request the flexibility that you need, but be prepared to compromise and find middle ground with your employer. With this in mind, you can now explore more options, rather than just strictly part-time work. Flexible work can also come in the form of non-traditional work hours, remote work, project work, and more. Each family is different, so try to think outside the box to find the right working pattern for you and your family.
Now that you’ve got your power networks, ammunition of skills, and a top-notch resume, the only thing that stands between you and your new job is self-confidence. Often after a break from the workforce, some mums may feel disconnected, and as a result, lose some of their confidence. Projecting confidence will make all the difference in the success of your job search. Approach every job opportunity with your head held high and stay positive about the challenges that you may encounter along the way. Remember that you’re not alone in this and many other mums have gone through and are going through a similar experience. Good luck--you’ve got this!