Returning to the workplace, whether you have stayed at home raising children, or have been out for other reasons, is an exciting step. With a bit of preparation, it will be a positive experience, allowing your unique qualities to shine. Here are some helpful tips to make the most of the job-seeking process.
Prepare before you head into the workplace
The time you spend preparing yourself and your résumé for the workplace will help you focus on the type of work you want. Depending on how long you have been out of the workforce, things may have changed, so consider these steps the foundations for a positive work-seeking experience. Preparation means you’re ready to show what you can do and why you are an excellent candidate. Research will guide you in setting expectations for navigating the modern job market.
What do you want?
With your focus having been on raising your children, it was easy to put yourself last. But now is the time to ask yourself, What do I want? Dig down a little bit, and see whether any of these questions help to surface anything helpful:
- What are your passions?
- What hobbies have you enjoyed, recently or in the past?
- Before children, what were you doing, and do you want to do that again?
- Would you prefer to work full-time, part-time, remote, hybrid, or in an office? (Try to maintain some level of flexibility if you have children who still live at home, or if your employer or the position has requirements.)
- Think about career growth; what might that look like for you?
- What is your ideal salary? What range can you work with?
- Is there scope to freelance, consult or do contract work?
Knowing the answers to these questions doesn’t guarantee that your first position will magically make your every wish come true, but your answers may guide you in the most important question of all, What will make you happy?
You have more to offer than you know. Parents who are reentering the workforce after raising children have many transferable skills. Rather than creating a traditional chronological résumé that could highlight a long hiatus from the workplace, create a skills-based compilation that showcases what you can do rather than in an order of when you did it.
Take a moment to write down all your achievements and how they can apply to the type of position you are seeking. Here are a few examples:
Skills used and gained before you left the workforce
Events and fundraisers that you led or assisted with at your place of worship or your children’s schools
Volunteer work you may have done in your area or online for local or national organizations
Freelance or “one-off” jobs you have done even just one time, or several
With your résumé, always include a cover letter tailored to the position for which you are applying. Along with careful research, you can make it relevant to the needs of the company and position. You will definitely increase your chances of an interview or callback by showing that you know the employer’s needs and can respond well to the job requirements.
Did you have hobbies and interests while raising your children? You might have a portfolio! Digital portfolios are an efficient way to display creativity and skill within a craft or even a genre of art. These can include written works, handmade products, photography, or anything you have created/done.
You might think of a portfolio as a collection of glossy photographs, tucked into a leather pouch. While that’s lovely, there are many ways to create a portfolio these days, to show to potential employers, so they can see how much you have to offer.
A rather modern method of showcasing your work is to create a website using WIX, Squarespace or Webflow – or any site that helps people, with little or no web design experience, to create their own websites using their well designed templates and options. Tips include:
- Create an About page focused on you, what you do, and what you love
- Collect 10–15 pieces of your work, take photos or screenshots (do make sure they’re really in focus!) and upload them to your website.
- Keep your Contact Me page easy to use, and include an email address that you check. (Consider setting up a new professionally named account, especially if your current address is very “mom” focused. For instance: JaneJonesArt@email.com.
To refresh your skills, there are plenty of great options. You can head back to school, for a formal certification or degree, or find online classes. Online classes offer flexibility, and you’re often spoiled for choice with course options. Get a current overview and understanding of the sector by reading news reports and industry news, listening to talks, and finding books written by experts in the field.
LinkedIn can be one of the best resources to find industry news, to begin creating a network, and even to create a résumé. The website offers courses, places to post, and professional memberships for those looking for work, potentially giving you a competitive edge. It’s definitely something you’ll want to check out.
Before submitting applications, practice your interview skills. Once you have applied and the interview offers start coming in, you’ll feel more ready, thanks to your preparation.
Research common interview questions, and practice your answers with a friend or family member – you can even set up your phone to video yourself. When you are asked these or similar questions during an interview, your responses will be thoughtful, clear, and concise, and you will feel more at ease and relaxed.
For each interview you accept, research the company on LinkedIn and also on Indeed, a hiring platform where employers post jobs. Searching Glassdoor is a wonderful way to gain insights on larger employers, where you will find reviews and feedback from interviewees and staff.
The best tip is to keep applying for positions so that you’ll have plenty of opinions and can make the right decision for you. Keep a positive mindset, prepare well, and you’ll be back in the workplace in no time.