How a Stay-At-Home Mom Can Rebound Into An Office Job
After working for a couple years, many women choose (or are compelled) to leave their office jobs to stay at home in order to raise their children. Being a stay-at-home mom can be a full-time job in itself but one that isn’t often recognized as “strong experience” garnering translatable skills on a resume. So how can a stay-at-home mom bounce back into the professional world?
1. Dust Off Your Resumé
This will be the most important aspect of your applications. Make sure you keep your resumé fresh, relevant, and tailored to the jobs you’re applying for. Unless you have 10+ years of experience, keep your resumé to one page. Delete the summary and bullet-point list of skills at the top unless you have 10+ years of experience – trust me, it ages you. Use bullet points to express your experience, not long-winded, unwieldy sentences. Most importantly, have one (or three) friends or former co-workers review it before sending it out.
2. Explain the Gap Strategically
So you’ve taken a couple years off. Hiring managers won’t hold it against you for taking time off, as long as you’ve demonstrated that your skills are still sharp and that you are capable and motivated to take on a large workload and steep challenges. How? Add one or two sentences to your resumé describing what you did during the “gap.” Don’t only mention that you were a stay-at-home mom, but also add the “activities” you did that kept your transferable skills honed. These activities don’t have to be grandiose, but they can highlight your role as a mom in a way that is impressive to future employers. For example:
Starting in May 2013, I left [COMPANY] to work as a stay-at-home mom for my three children. During this time, I did part-time, remote administrative work for a local jewelry company, served as treasurer and bookkeeper for my daughters’ recreational soccer league, and was the lead planner for multiple charity events, raising over $75,000, for my children’s school.
Notice how your participation in even minor extracurriculars, like your children’s recreational activities, can demonstrate your organizational, administrative, and detail-oriented skills, among others.
3. Demonstrate That Your Skills Are Still Sharp
If you really can’t think of a single activity that would contribute to your skill set during the gap, don’t hesitate to start. Volunteer at an organization that will allow you to use skills useful to potential employers, engage in part-time or temporary work, or sign up for classes via Udemy, Coursera, or a local college.
4. Reconnect With Your Network
Add everyone you know on LinkedIn, including former and current co-workers, friends, family members, and classmates. Professionals don’t keep a rolodex of business cards or an address book of contacts; connections are maintained on LinkedIn.
5. Update Your LinkedIn
Your LinkedIn profile is your virtual resumé. This means that while hiring managers spend 30 seconds or less scanning your paper resume, they’ll likely spend less time on your virtual resume. Recruiters and connections can view your profile at any time, and when you send you resume out in response to job postings, they frequently check your LinkedIn. It needs to express your experience, ability, and skills clearly, concisely, and presentably. Make sure that your resumé can verify your LinkedIn (hiring managers will hold it against you if you lie on one or the other).
Add pertinent work history and internships, if applicable, education background, organizational memberships, skills, and attach projects, presentations, articles, or websites that you’ve created. Make sure that everything is spelled correctly, is properly (or at least consistently) formatted, and ensure that your byline (what shows up beneath your name) is reflective of who you are as a professional. Don’t list “Seeking employment” as a byline; you’ll be immediately bypassed by recruiters. Importantly, make sure your photo is of your face, appropriate for your profession, and is current.
6. Research Programs for Moms Re-entering the Workforce
Lots of companies and even law firms, have re-entry programs specifically for moms that have taken time off and want to get back into the office.
7. Garner Strong References
Almost more important than anything, you will likely need strong references from your former (and/or current) work experience. These references will need to attest that you not only produced excellent work but that your strong work ethic, determination, and competence demonstrates your capability to return to work at a high level after a hiatus. Make sure your references aren’t shocked to receive a call – reach out to each reference, remind them of your work history, and politely request that they vouch for you.
8. Reevaluate What You Want
Don’t fear change. Look at this as a fresh start to do what you’ve always wanted. What were your career goals prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom (if any)? What would you do if you could do anything? What would you do if you were fearless? This will be challenging, but it also can – and should – be exciting, not dreadful. Look deeper.
9. Be Confident
Don’t let anyone make you believe that you can’t go back to work. Don’t accept an abysmally low salary or a position you hate just because you feel there are no options for you. Be patient, be strategic, and leverage your network. You have raised kids and ran a household on your own; now it’s your turn to take on your goals. Reach higher than you think you can.