A Stay-at-Home Mom’s Guide to Opting Back In to the Workforce
One of the first expressions that I ever heard uttered was, “It’s just like riding a bike.” There is a lot of truth to those words — anyone who learned to ride a two-wheeler but then spends time without doing so believes that they could dust off that seat and start pedaling around the block with ease. That said, like most things, it’s not always so easy.
You might have to put your feet down a bit more than you remember. Maybe you can’t go as fast as your 10-year-old mind recalls, or maybe that once-sensational rush has been replaced by agonizing fear that you’ll accidentally ride off a cliff into an Evel Knievel experience… OK, maybe that’s just me.
The point is, after we’ve taken time off from anything, we get rusty. There are not many exceptions to this rule, and rejoining the workforce is definitely no different. For many people, especially mothers, a couple years out of the workforce can feel like an eternity. You’ve replaced the water cooler with the bottle warmer, hitting deadlines turns to hitting the diaper pail, and 5:01s become 5-in-the-mornings.
While the thought of returning to a “normal” working life may seem daunting, I’m here to offer my advice for how to best get back into the professional groove.
1. PREPARE. Just as you have to put air back in a bike’s tires, prepare yourself. Is there a job waiting for you? If not, a great place to start is with your cover letter and resume. Your cover letter is the perfect place to explain your gap in employment. Emphasize your desire to return to the workforce and how you’ve maintained your skillset. Revisit your resume; think about using a functional resume to focus on your experience. You may not have been bringing in a paycheck, but you’ve been no slacker! You’ve mastered multi-tasking — you were the CEO, accountant, project manager and the support team. Tight deadlines approaching… a seasoned mom won’t bat a lash.
2. GO SLOW. Be realistic with your inner expectations. Becoming overwhelmed with workloads is often cited upon re-entry. Instead of accepting the 20 projects you were accustomed to, take the mindset that you’re more like a seasoned new-hire. You have all the skills, you just need a little ramp up until you can return to full speed.
3. CREATE GOALS. Just as returning to the Schwinn requires a plan of action, you should think about what your successful comeback looks like. Write these down — it really helps to have a visual playbook to review your wins. Where do you want to be in 90 days? What do you hope to accomplish in the first year?
Following these simple tips will help ease the transition process and make the experience an overall positive one. Remember, you’ve been on this bike before, so throw your leg over the seat, put a smile on your face, and in no time you’ll be riding with no hands.
Michelle Kruse is a recruitment expert and career advisor with over a decade of experience. Starting her career in modeling and acting, she transitioned into recruitment and career coaching. She has been a pivotal figure at ResumeEdge for over 10 years, where she oversees hiring, provides training, manages partnerships, and offers guidance on the job search process.