11 Tips For Re-Entering The Workforce After Time Away

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It's quite common for people who have taken time away from work to be stay-at-home parents to eventually return to the workforce. In fact, it's estimated that nearly 50% of working moms who left their jobs to care for their family decide to go back to work.

But, that transition is not always simple and smooth. Hopefully, a few of these tips will help if you're one of those stay-at-home parents returning to the workforce:

**And, if you're in the Durham (or the greater Triangle area of NC), keep in mind that at KKJ we offer counseling and coaching for changing career paths, returning to the workforce, career enjoyment, and many other work-based issues.

  • Don't Underestimate The Change In Lifestyle
    There are many logistical and practical aspects of life that will be changed when you re-enter the workforce. Among the considerations are childcare, flexibility, balancing your work and family life, and your personal energy management. In other words, just take the time to think about the changes a new job will have on your life in a holistic manner, rather than just thinking about the job title or salary.
  • Determine If You Want To Go Back To Your Previous Field Or Move In A New Direction
    Will you go back to your prior career or do you want to try something new? Have your desires changed since becoming a parent? Does your prior field require more than you're able to give now? Have their been changes to that industry or a weakening of the job outlook? These are a few of the questions you need to consider.

    If possible, try to take your time to focus on choosing the right career rather than just diving into the job posting sites. Try to reflect on your time away to see if your interests have changed or if you've developed new passions. Consider why (beyond the financial needs) you are interested in working again and try to make a list of the must-haves in terms of salary, hours, flexibility, etc.
  • Be Open To New Opportunities
    You might find that new opportunities exist that didn't exist before you took time away. For example, by learning some new skills (coding for example), you might find a wealth of opportunities. Some even allow work-from -home flexibility. There are many organizations that help moms learn new skill relatively quickly if that's of interest to you.
  • Research Your Chosen Field Extensively
    It's possible many things have changed since you've been away. Read up on your career field and industry and talk to people who are currently working in it so that you can quickly become a competitive job candidate. Get caught up on industry news and get up to date. Check out many online (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc) professional groups, as they can be a great resource.
  • Re-Connecting With Your Network Is Essential
    If you let your professional network lapse, now is a good time to revive it. Talk to your network about returning to the workforce and start getting the word out. In fact, data has shown that 85% of jobs are landed through connections, so if you have connections, be sure to tap into them. This is especially true of people returning after a career break. Your former colleagues will know about your work-ethic, the quality of your work, and your personality, which makes you a much less risky hire than a total stranger.
  • Don't Be Afraid Of The Gap In Your Employment History
    Don't make any apologies for the time you spent away from work. Acknowledge your gap in employment in a matter of fact way. Whether in a cover letter, the phone, or in person, you can explain why you left (“I’ve spent time caring for a sick relative,” or “It was important to me to be home with my children until they were in school,” etc). Whatever your reason, try to keep it simple and to the point and then try to return the conversation to the work you did prior to your time away or the experiences you've gained while being away. Be confident when making these statements and potential employers will tend to have confidence in you as well.
  • Consider A "Functional" Resume Rather Than A Chronological Resume
    Another way to help deal with the gap in your employment history is to use a functional resume. Focus on your skills and successes rather than the precise dates of your employment. Create headings like “marketing experience,” “sales successes” or “benchmarks met” and then list your achievements accordingly.
  • Consider a "Returnship"
    Returnships are internships designed for experienced professionals who have been out of the workforce for an extended absence and are now planning to return. In fact, many career experts are calling Returnships the most exciting development in women's workforce history. They can give you the chance to catch up with the latest trends in software or strategies, while also making new contacts. These are becoming more common and are offered by many organizations. Do a little research and you won't have trouble finding potential fits.
  • Check Out Niche Job Placement Firms
    There has recently been an emergence of job placement firms specializing specifically on the needs of workers seeking re-entry into the workforce. Many are mom-specific, but do a little resarch and you might be able to find a helpful firm for your situation.
  • Practice Your Job Search Skills
    Especially if it's been a while, be sure to update your resume, update your LinkedIn profile, update your wardrobe, and practice your interviewing skills.
  • Tidy Up Your Social Media Profiles
    If you're active on social media, be sure to clean it up. Interviewers are likely to review your posts, so just use common sense in terms of what you would or wouldn't want a potential employer to see.

More Information On Returning To Work After Time Away:
If you're in the Durham (or Chapel Hill, RTP, Raleigh) area and would like to learn more about how we can help you in your return to work, we invite you to call or setup an appointment by contacting our office.


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Dr. Katrina Kuzyszyn-Jones

At KKJ, we focus on the specific problems that affect your daily life, using well-known, evidence-based techniques. While techniques are important, authenticity, warmth, and empathy are integral for people to flourish in, and outside of, counseling. You are a whole person—mind, body, spirit - with strengths, and weaknesses. Let us help you form a stronger family, decrease stress, enhance your relationships, find meaning in your life, and realize overall greater health and well-being.

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