It’s summer time and the worst part of summer is not the oppressive heat, but rather the fact that it really doesn’t last that long. Your kids are out of school and if you’ve been a stay-at-home parent, you are likely enjoying these two quick months with your kids before they start school. Like many stay-at-home parents, I support, perhaps you’ve made a commitment to get back to the world of career once your youngest child starts Kindergarten. It’s a bittersweet moment for many stay at home parents when they realize that it’s time to start their career back up again. Career re-entry for the stay-at-home parent comes with a number of challenges but it’s not impossible. There are several ways you can make your re-entry a smooth one.
Where to Start Your Workforce Re-entry Process
The first step to re-entering the workforce is finding a job. Finding a job takes time and commitment and there’s no time like the present to prepare. Here are some of our favorite job boards so you can get an idea of what’s available in your market. Even if you’re thinking about re-entry in the not-so-near future, you’ll want to take some time to prepare now. So where do you start? Start with the basics of course! It’s time to dig in your heels and decide what your next career steps will be. Here are some easy ways to start your job search.
Identify the Best Point of Re-entry
Understanding the most appropriate re-entry point is an important part of rebuilding your professional profile. Some questions you’ll want to ask yourself include:
- How long have you been out?
- Will you need to start from scratch with a lower-level position and work your way back up?
- Were you in a career, such as IT, with an ever-changing industry that’s impossible to keep up with when you’re not actively working?
- Are you going to make a career change or pick up where you left off?
Take an Honest Look at Your Resume
Once you understand your re-entry point it’s time to dig up your old resume and conduct an honest assessment of where you’re currently at on paper. Sparking hiring manager interest will largely depend on the relevance of your brand and ability to communicate it at first glance. If it’s been a while since you’ve written a resume, it’s important to know that times have changed. Gone are the days of the “1-page only” rule and objective statement. If you decide to take a stab at your resume yourself, you’ll want to check out some of these common resume mistakes so you can avoid them.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of learning all there is to know about resumes, you can always outsource the work. If you do decide to hire a resume writer, here are some things you’ll want to be aware of before making the investment.
Get Creative to Fill the Gaps With Valuable Skills
In an ideal scenario, you have spent a little time over the last several years taking courses to keep up with your industry, volunteering, or organizing the little league team to help brush up your business management skills. Take this time to write a list of the various activities and organizations that you have helped with while you weren’t changing diapers, driving to soccer games, or hosting sleepovers with friends. What else did you do? Did you volunteer as a Scout Troop leader or organize a community event? Next, make a list of classes or continuing education courses that you may have taken. Here are a few more ways you can take an inventory of your skills, experience and strengths. If you’re having trouble identifying your strengths and unique value, check out our expert advice on how to identify strengths and create career wins.
Create a Focus With This Exercise
Uncertainty in your career future will come through on paper. It’s okay to have a broader focus, but there is an extremely fine line between a wide scope and a chaotic and confusing scope. I suggest perusing the internet and finding 3 positions of similar industries and create a starting point. What 3 jobs interest you the most? Compare and contract these job advertisements to find out what pieces connect to each other. Do they have similar requirements? You can also try these hacks for fixing a confusing resume brand.
The next step in this process is to write down a list of the similarities and differences between all three of these roles. You’ll want to focus more attention on the similar requirements when writing your resume, however you may want to work in a keyword here and there with some of the differences. Here are 50 powerful keywords you can choose from if you run out of ideas.
Finally, it’s time to figure out how you match up with these positions. Do you actually qualify? If the position asks for 4 years of business management experience, what business management experience do you have? Did you run a little league team? Manage a networking club? Perhaps you have this experience from your past. You get the idea of this exercise. Take the time to figure out what actual experience you have even thought it may not seem directly relevant to your chosen field.
Select a Strategic Resume Format for Visual Impact
Now it’s time to figure out how to show this experience. Since you’ll only have about 6 seconds to create your fist impression and show your relevance, the formatting piece is critical! Depending on the size of your gap and goal (total career change vs logical next move) you’ll want to select a format that tells your story best. There are two formats you’ll want to consider: Functional and Chronological.
A functional resume provides more focus on the skillset you bring versus your career history, whereas the chronological resume focuses heavily on your dates and professional experience. For a free chronological resume template, click here. This will be a judgement call, but you can learn more about the best resume format for you, here.
Putting the Pieces Together on Your Resume
Once you’ve selected your strategic resume format, your list of skills, and job description, it’s time to get started. I have many workforce re-entry clients ask me about dates in their positions. My best advice is that it will become obvious you are hiding something if you remove the dates from your resume. Millions of others have left work for many years only to return later. It’s no secret that many candidates are going to be parents. It’s not a secret that if you are missing 5 years of experience that perhaps you were at home caring for a family member. If you want to explain yourself, the best place to do this is in the cover letter. Not the resume. Having a position listed as “Domestic Engineer” is not the way to handle this.
It’s Go Time!
You have something to offer a potential employer. It may your superb eye for detail, amazing analytical capabilities, or outstanding communication skills. Perhaps it’s all 3! Show this on your resume, stress it in the interviews, and live up to it in your role. Make yourself a valuable tool for your next organization to set yourself up for a bright new chapter in your life. If you’re in need of more ideas for ramping up the re-entry process, check out these tips.