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Navigating the Return: Women Reentering the Job Market

For women who choose to leave the professional world and join the domestic one for a time, coming back to the workforce can be overwhelming and intimidating. Many opt to stay home and raise children during their early years and find themselves with an urge to find their professional side again, but don’t know where to start. If you are a woman who isn’t sure how to navigate a return to the job market, we’ve identified some problem areas and provided solutions to help you get past them.

The Resume

Your old resume is likely outdated, although the information is still important. Pull a copy of your resume and study it to jog your memory about experiences, skills and qualifications you have. As you are creating a new resume, add those details where they are relevant.

There is no one-size-fits-all option for a resume, particularly when every woman reentering the workforce has different experiences. Start with one generic resume but remember to tailor each to the job you’re applying for. The education and work experience stay the same, but you can tweak the details to match the job you want.

Use the job description to help you adjust your resume. Within the description, there are keywords essential to the job. When resumes are submitted, they are run through an applicant tracking system. If those keywords aren’t on your resume, you may not make it to the interview phase.

While building a resume, remember the skills and qualifications you earned while at home. Add soft skills obtained during your motherhood period within your resume. Some of these may include:

  • Multi-tasking
  • Communicating and listening
  • Managing schedules
  • Negotiating
  • Researching and organizing
  • Collaborating

These are all skills you used at home that are also valuable in the workforce. You may not even realize how important they are until you see them in action outside the home.

Also include any volunteer work you did during your time at home. If you helped with community projects, school fundraisers or did any type of freelance work, use those experiences to highlight your skills. You can gain the same skills doing volunteer work as you can in the workforce.

The last thing to address is the gap in your resume. Many recruiters see a gap as a red flag, so address it head on. Label your time as a stay-at-home parent and include a bullet list of skills you learned during that time.

The Interview

After the resume is created, you’ve applied for the job and chosen as a final candidate, comes the interview. If you’ve been out of the workforce for a period of years, this can seem extremely intimidating, but remember that you come armed with information and skills that can’t be learned anywhere but in the home.

This is a situation where you might have to fake it until you make it. Confidence is important in a job interview, not just about your ability but also about your decision to stay home. Come prepared with up-to-date information about your industry and current technical trends.

Find the line between confidence and arrogance. Show you are prepared to take on any task, but that you are humble enough to receive feedback and apply it. Perhaps the best way to prepare for an interview is to practice beforehand. Find a friend or spouse to play the role of interviewer and record yourself answering questions. Watch for nervous habits that make you look jittery or words you stumble over, and practice those until your confidence increases.

During the interview, maintain eye contact and be aware of your body language. As a stay-at-home parent, you are uniquely prepared to read emotion or intent before it’s identified out loud.

At the end of the interview, ask relevant, valuable questions. Research the company and identify any questions you have about how they function and what their values are. Let them know that you are thankful for the interview and look forward to talking to them.

Remember that you gain confidence after each interview. You may be extremely nervous at first, but the more you do, the easier it gets. Don’t give up if you don’t get the first few jobs you apply for. In today’s world, it may take some time to land the perfect gig.

The Follow-Up

You’ve polished up your resume, been interviewed and asked relevant, valid questions to the recruiter or hiring manager. You feel like it went well, but it’s been days and you haven’t heard back from them. Remember that it may take longer for them to get back to you if they have a lot of interviews scheduled, or even if something simply came up in the company.

Wait at least one to two weeks before contacting the recruiter for an update. If the position is more competitive, it may take even longer. Contacting them too early may make them feel pressure, leave a bad impression or make you seem inexperienced in hiring practices.

Recruiters interview many people for each position. Checking back after an interview means your name stays in the front of their minds. When you call back, introduce yourself clearly and mention something unique you talked about in your interview. Emphasize that your experience with the company was positive and ask politely for updates. It’s often a good idea to prepare a script before you call so you don’t stumble or forget what you wanted to say.

Use Your Domestic Skills In the Workforce

Raising children as a stay-at-home parent is an honorable thing, and when introduced the right way, can add to your resume. Don’t underestimate all you learned while raising children or the skills you developed. Simply learn to apply those skills to different tasks, and recruiters will see your value quickly.