Ready for Work Again, Momma? Here’s How to Get the Job You Really Want.

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If you’ve been off the career track for a few years while staying home to raise a family, finding the path back into the work world can be overwhelming. Whether it’s part-time or full-time work you’re seeking, it’s hard to know where to start and how to secure fulfilling job that will set you back on your chosen career path.

The first thing many women do is hop onto job boards (such as SimplyHired.com, Indeed.com, or CareerBuilder.com) and begin searching for jobs in their local area. This can work, but rather than wait for jobs to be posted on those boards, there are some more proactive things you can do to beat the rest of the competition to the punch and find a job that is perfectly suited to you.

First, update your resume. Even if you’ve been a stay at home parent for years, you should have your resume in “ready to go” condition. You haven’t just been sitting at home up to your eyebrows in diapers and crayons all this time. You’ve been managing a household and even volunteering for causes you care about (church groups, school PTO, etc.). Be proud of those activities and find ways to showcase them on your resume.

If you don’t have a profile on LinkedIn, create one. These days, LinkedIn is essential. It’s like having an online resume, but you can choose what you display publicly (to people you haven’t accepted as “connections”) and what you keep private. If you can, contact your former colleagues and ask them to write recommendations on your LinkedIn profile. (In return, you can offer to write recommendations on their LinkedIn profiles, but only if you were honestly impressed with their skills!)

Check your Facebook privacy settings. This is important. These days, one of the first things potential employers do is search for applicants on Facebook. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t have a care in the world about who sees your political rants and drunken summer barbeque party pictures on Facebook, you need to care right now. This matters a lot to most prospective employers. Remember, even if you change your general privacy settings now, the stuff you posted in the past that was public remains public unless you go back to each post and change it. So do that, pronto!

Make a list of employers in your area for whom you’d like to work. Don’t rule any of them out because you think they wouldn’t be interested in a mom who’s paused her career path for a few years. Roll up your sleeves and do your internet research. Then, find contact information for the key people in hiring roles at each company. You can call them up and ask for the name and email address of the head of Human Resources, or you can often find that information on their corporate websites.

Write a personalized cover letter to key hiring individuals. Tell them specifically why you’re interested in working for them. Be sure to add some key detail from your research that will prove to them that you’ve done your homework to learn about their mission or business goals. Tell them, why you think your skills or background could benefit them in some way. Don’t forget to close your letter with your contact information, and tell them that you plan to follow up within a couple of weeks with a phone call. Then, in a couple of weeks, follow up with a phone call! Even if they have no current openings that match your skills, this will likely make a positive and memorable impression on the individual you’ve contacted, and it increases the likelihood that they’ll save your information, remember you and contact you about a future opening.

Consider part time work. Some employers may have a hard time finding someone who only wants to work part time. Most recent college graduates will rule out a part time position immediately. That could work to your advantage. The position could very well grow into a full time position.

Network with as many people as possible. Let people know you’re interested in finding work. Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, and tell your book group. If you know of people who do the kind of work you’re interested in, reach out to them and offer to take them to coffee or lunch. Ask them about their employers and how they found their jobs. That person might be likely to recommend you for a position if it opens up at their workplace or if they move on to a different job and need to hire someone to fill theirs.

Consider registering with a temporary staffing firm. Employers often mitigate the danger of hiring the wrong person by “test driving” an employee for a period of time through a temporary agency before hiring them directly.

Don’t grab the first job that comes your way if it’s not what you want. If you’ve been offered a position, give serious consideration to how it will position you for potential job growth. Will it be a meaningful addition to your resume in terms of skill development, or possibly a stepping stone along the career path you want? Don’t take a job just to have a job. You’ll regret it if the right job comes along a few months down the line, and you don’t want to be viewed as a “job hopper.” A reputation like that can catch up to you and burn your chances with prospective employers.

Finally, don’t sell yourself short, girlfriend. Just because you’ve taken a detour from your career path to do the worthwhile work of spending time with your family doesn’t mean your skills are irrelevant and useless. Although there are many, many fresh and newly graduated college applicants vying for jobs, many employers are seeking someone with experience, maturity and a proven track record. Keep your chin up, and your attitude positive. If you follow these suggestions, you will find yourself back in the work groove sooner than you think.

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Welcome to Sarah Calatayud, a guest blogger from Connecticut’s Farmington Valley! Sarah has two children, ages 14 and 11, one lovely husband, and a cute rescued pooch. She is the founder and owner of SMC Webworks, LLC, a business that creates brochure websites and provides digital consulting services to small businesses anywhere. Look forward to more from Sarah in upcoming posts on Smiling in the Winter.

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Tell Me if My Teen Does Any of These Things

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Credit: http://www.ldssmiles.com

These days of parenting are different, aren’t they? We’re on a hair-raising new frontier of childraising that grows more technologically complicated and confounding with every new iteration of “i” device, social media platform, and social sharing app our kids use. I can’t count the number of times I’ve witnessed things that other people’s children have done and thought to myself, “If I were that parent, I’d absolutely want to know about that.”

Yet, we’re also more concerned than ever before about poking our parenting noses into someone else’s family business and overstepping boundaries. Wouldn’t it be great if we all knew more about where we stand on this topic? I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s my social “contract” with you if you have any opportunity to interact with my child or witness his behavior.:

Please tell me if you witness my child being disrespectful or rude to an adult, or making a bad impression on adults in a public place. Even if he doesn’t think anyone is watching, and he’s with a group of kids who are all engaging in disrespectful behavior. I’ve seen teens behave badly in public places like malls, movie theaters, and restaurants by being obnoxiously loud, using profanity, and leaving without cleaning up their disastrous messes. If that were my kid, I’d want to know about it.

Please tell me if my kid behaves like a privileged guest exempt from your household family responsibilities. Please treat him like he’s one of your own kids and ask him to help with the chores your kids are asked to do. Setting and clearing plates from the table, cleaning up when they’ve made a mess, even shoveling snow from the driveway. It helps all of our kids to participate in activities that serve the good of any household, and it builds character to have them pitch in.

If my kid uses any kind of language or attitude that is unacceptable in your presence, please call him on it and let him know that you don’t allow it in your home. I’ve had kids swear in the back of my car, or watch inappropriate YouTube videos as if I’m not even there, and I firmly but kindly tell them it’s not allowed in my car. Yes, my own kids were momentarily mortified, but that’s OK. I’m drawing an important “respect” line for them, and for their friends, and they’ll both learn from it.

If you learn that my kid has bullied anyone, anywhere, in any way, shape or form, please tell me. Even if it’s a subtlety such as deliberately excluding someone from a conversation on social media or tagging everyone in a photo on Instagram, except for that person. This is the new bullying modality. I want to know about it if my kid engages in this behavior.

Please tell me your concerns about my kid’s social media activity. The kid “grapevine” is important. I have seen Instagram pictures on the feeds of my son’s friends that I’m sure those parents know nothing about. If my daughter was putting pictures like that on her Instagram feed (followed by 2,765 “friends”), I would be concerned. I follow my kids on their social media accounts, and I tolerate teen silliness and some questionable language here and there (they’re talking with each other, not with adults), but when I see a 13 or 14 year old 8th grade girl posting suggestive photos of herself and gratuitous cleavage shots, I’m concerned. If I were her parent, I would want to know about it. Please tell me if you’ve seen this kind of behavior from my child.

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Credit: http://www.digitalinformationworld.com

If you learn from your kid that mine has been experimenting with alcohol or drugs, or other risky behaviors such as shoplifting or vandalism, please tell me. That one doesn’t really require further explanation.

If your child and mine are close enough that my child has confided anything to your child that might indicate danger to himself or anyone else, such as thoughts or acts of self-harm (e.g., cutting, eating disorders), feelings of depression or worthlessness, or plans to harm someone else, please break that confidence and tell me about it. I respect my child’s right to privacy, but those topics trump everything. If your child has concerns that my child is in a depressed and possibly dangerous state of mind, please tell me.

I have what I consider to be a good and loving relationship with my kids. But how many times have we heard a parent who has suffered a devastating child behavior disaster (opiate addiction, drunk driving accident,…) say, “I don’t know how this happened” or, “I had no idea this was even going on”?

Some parents deal with the emergence of worrisome behavior issues by turning the other way and hoping (desperately) that everything will work itself out. I’m not that parent. Parenting is persistent work, and sometimes that work is the last thing you want to do. This is the difficult, downright “icky,” uncomfortable stuff. To do right by your kid, you must face it head on. To do right by our kids, we all must face it head on.


 

This post was featured on BlogHer.com. For more of this kind of goodness, follow my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SmilingInTheWinter !