By Smarty Guest Blogger Kimberly Paulk
If you suddenly find yourself waking up in the middle of the night worried about your “nonlinear career path” and what to do with those gaps on your resume, you’re probably one of the many women thinking about returning to the traditional, paid workforce. You’re not alone. The Mom Project says that 43% of skilled American women leave the workforce after becoming mothers.
Both men and women (but more typically, it’s women) step away from a career for a number of reasons–child care, elder care or other life events. But if you’re now considering taking the leap back into the workforce, these five steps will get you there.
1. Decide what’s most important to you. Is it income? Do you need to work from home? Some moms are willing to sacrifice a bit of pay for flexibility in their schedule. That might mean job sharing, working remotely or freelancing.
2. Get laser focused. Don’t underestimate the importance of this step. Now is the time to get very specific on the type of work you’d like to do. Everything that follows depends on having a clear idea of where you’re heading next.
Need some help? Virtus Consulting, located here in Charlotte, offers Career Exploration services that can help you map your next chapter. Another option, according to Virginia Franco, a nationally certified resume writer and owner of Virginia Franco Resumes in Matthews, is to grab a pen and paper and write down every one of your skills. Plug that list into a job website like Indeed.com and take a look at the roles that come up. If you have most of the skills needed for a job (60% or more), check it out to see if it’s something you might be interested in.
3. Once you know what skills you’re missing, get on it. Now that you’ve identified the skills you have and those you need, start filling any gaps.
Udemy, Coursera, LinkedIn, Intellezy and Hubspot all offer a variety of online courses on everything from social media to data science. Here in Charlotte Tech Talent South has courses in coding, Google Analytics and more. A number of local training companies offer Microsoft product training, but don’t overlook the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library. They offer support on a variety of tech-related topics including Gmail and Google Drive basics and Microsoft Excel training (including pivot tables, which is a must-have skill for some jobs).
4. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile. Remember to include relevant volunteer work. Franco suggests reflecting on your volunteer roles in terms of outcomes and results. Maybe you developed new processes and improved efficiencies in your last volunteer gig, or helped a nonprofit achieve a record-breaking fundraising goal. Those are outcomes employers will be interested in hearing more about.
If the idea of writing your own resume is a little overwhelming the National Resume Writers Association (NRWA) is a good place to look for help. There you’ll find a directory of certified writers with a variety of specialities and who work with a variety of budgets.
5. Network. Do this long before you think you need to. There is NO substitute for letting your friends and family know you’re in the market for a job. In fact, Franco suggests you spend 90-95% of your time networking in person versus hunting through job boards.
For some moms this is the hardest part, although it shouldn’t be. Choose to go into every conversation fueled by your goals, not burdened by insecurities. Most people want you to succeed and will gladly help if they can.
You’re not alone
The more you network, the more you’ll realize there are others on the same path. Still, some days will feel lonely. When that happens, check out the websites listed below. Keep in mind that most of these are job boards. That means they should only be a part of your strategy, not your whole game plan.
That said, they provide a good amount of practical information along with much-needed motivation and inspiration. Some require a paid membership, some are free. The first step is to get on their email lists. You’ll start to get a feel for what they offer, which could include anything from webinars to live events.
Power to Fly has job listings throughout the U.S. in industries like engineering, business analytics, project management and graphic design. Membership is free, although additional services like career coaching require a fee. Sign up for emails to be notified of video chats and live events. Check out the Career Advice section for topics like “7 Personality Traits Organizations Look For When Hiring Remote Workers.”
The Mom Project works to help women get back into the workforce by matching job opportunities and candidates around the U.S. Membership is free. Fill out a profile to start receiving job opportunities via email. Explore the site and you’ll find extras like discounts from Urban Sitter, Mitera and Intellezy.
Flex Jobs screens jobs ensure each one has flexible options. Listings cover over 50 career categories ranging from entry-level to executive, freelance to full-time. There is a small membership fee which gives you access to discounts with providers like WeWork and SitterCity, reduced rates on career coaching and resume reviews, and tests so you can promote your skills to potential employers.
Apres only features employers that have made a pledge to hire women returning to the workforce. They charge an annual membership fee but signing up for their informative emails is free.
Career Contessa is one of my favorites. They set themselves apart with tons of helpful and free content. There is no membership fee but they do charge for services like mentoring and e-learning courses. Follow them on social media for a constant stream of practical and inspirational info.
Whether you’re restarting a previous career or reinventing your way into something new, remember this is a journey. You have a lot to offer and you will find your way. Meanwhile, embrace the opportunity to learn new skills, discover new strengths and above all stay open to new, exciting possibilities.