7 Tips for Stay-at-Home Parents Reentering the Workforce
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- Stay-at-home parents can frame their employment gap positively for prospective employers.
- Taking control of the narrative can reduce concerns from future employers.
- Reestablishing professional connections can lead to job opportunities.
- Employment gaps can raise red flags, but skills and experience often carry more weight.
For stay-at-home parents, the prospect of reentering the workforce may feel daunting — especially if their employment gap is significant. But whether someone is restarting a formerly thriving career or tackling something new as a career changer, they can take steps to ease the transition.
How Do You Get Back Into the Workforce?
If you've taken significant time away from work, some elements of the application process may seem unfamiliar. With the addition of applicant tracking systems and the ubiquity of online applications, familiarizing yourself with the new hiring landscape is important.
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Ready to Start Your Journey?
When searching for your new job, be sure to understand the digital hiring infrastructure and how to best utilize these technologies to enhance your job opportunities.
Countless online tools are available to help you search for jobs. In addition to online job search tools like Indeed, sites like Glassdoor can provide you with detailed information about prospective employers and potential salaries. Many sites also offer resume help, skills tests, and various other career resources.
Keep reading to learn more about how to ease your transition back into the workforce.
7 Tips for Stay-at-Home Parents Returning to Work
Reentering the workforce after time away can feel like a daunting task. Below, we spotlight seven tips that can help streamline the job hunt for parents who want to jump-start their careers.
1. Set a Clear Goal
Stay-at-home parents juggle an endless list of responsibilities, so it's useful to set clear and attainable goals when planning to reenter the workforce.
The first step in planning this transition involves understanding the type of job you hope to secure. Do you want to jump headfirst into a demanding role? Or are you seeking a flexible position that will allow you to more easily balance the demands of home and work life?
When setting goals, it's critical to consider your potential career growth in a position, your financial goals, and your domestic responsibilities. Once you know what you're looking for, the next steps become clearer.
2. Sharpen Your Professional Skills
If you plan on reentering the workforce, it's worth taking the time to sharpen your professional skills. Whether you take continuing education courses, earn a professional or technical certification, or go back to college for another degree, honing your skills is an excellent way to build confidence and credentials.
Volunteer or consulting work can also reintroduce you to a professional setting while enhancing your resume. Taking the time to polish skills and engage with relevant professional trends shows prospective employers that you're ready to work.
3. Update Your Resume and Cover Letter
An up-to-date resume and cover letter can help you make a good impression on prospective employers. These critical application materials allow you to highlight your employment history, accomplishments, and volunteer experience.
Sometimes, though, potential employers may see significant gaps in work history as a red flag. A practical way to negotiate these employment gaps is to center your resume around skills and related professional experience rather than chronological work history.
Additionally, be sure to tailor both your resume and cover letter to specific job descriptions.
4. Create or Revise Your LinkedIn Profile
Similar to writing or updating a resume, creating or revising your LinkedIn profile is another practical way to shape early impressions from potential employers. Your LinkedIn profile should showcase your marketable skills, technical proficiencies, education, and work experience. This is another valuable place to highlight any volunteer activities.
When considering your LinkedIn page, take time to review any other social media accounts you have for posts that contain images or opinions that could negatively impact your job prospects.
5. Reconnect With Your Network
Taking the time to reconnect with your previous professional network of colleagues can help you begin to reenter professional life. Whether or not these connections translate into potential career opportunities, opening a line of communication can provide valuable information regarding industry trends.
When reconnecting with your network, consider ways you can establish new contacts. Online networks and cold emails can introduce you to countless potential employers.
6. Be Prepared to Address Your Employment Gap
Your employment gap will likely come up in an interview, so you should take the time to prepare an answer. Your time away from professional work need not be negative, and you can frame any gaps in a positive light.
Moreover, in an interview, you can succinctly address the employment gap and then direct the conversation toward your qualifications, skills, and excitement about reentering the workforce.
In some cases, interviewers could ask gendered and discriminatory questions regarding parenting. Be aware that these questions are illegal. They also shine a light on an organization's workplace culture.
If the job is still appealing, redirect the discussion to focus on your professional skills and value instead.
7. Apply to Multiple Positions and Keep Your Options Open
Once you've established your goals, polished your resume, and tapped into your network, it's time to start submitting applications. Prepare to apply to multiple jobs. This can take time, so patience is essential. If securing a job is your goal, consider expanding your job search to include part-time and temporary roles.
Just as patience is vital, persistence plays a critical role. If you put in the work and continue submitting thoughtfully crafted applications, responses should follow. Prepare for your interviews, send thank-you emails, and follow up in a professional manner.
How to Explain an Employment Gap as a Stay-at-Home Parent
Employment gaps sometimes make employers hesitant about candidates. Getting ahead of their assumptions and clearly explaining your individual situation can go a long way in quashing any hesitation.
On Your Resume
You should assume employers will find out about employment gaps, so best practice is to address them within your resume. Clearly document your employment gap alongside other professional experiences and briefly explain the reason for time away from work. If your time away was less than six months, there's likely no need to explain.
On Your Cover Letter
A cover letter provides a perfect opportunity to address your job gap and shape the conversation. Prospective employers know that hiring an unreliable, short-term employee is expensive. In your letter, address those concerns by emphasizing your excitement about the organization and briefly explaining your situation.
During an Interview
An interview, whether in person or virtual, gives yet another opportunity to discuss your time away and frame your absence as a benefit to you professionally. For example, if you're applying for a managerial role, you could creatively highlight how time at home shaped a unique set of skills applicable to a professional environment.
Stay-at-Home Parent Resume Example
Experienced project manager with a background in both mechanical engineering and business and more than six years of experience overseeing revenue growth and expanded distribution. Seeking to utilize leadership skills and expand profits while shaping an inclusive, forward-looking work environment.
Work Experience and Accomplishments
Wilson Engineering | Los Angeles, CA | 8/2008-3/2012
- Acted as liaison between production and design teams, ensuring both efficiency and quality production.
- Managed team of 15 to design and construct green manufacturing system for national brewery.
- Enforced OSHA safety guidelines.
Filson Engineering Group | Pacific Grove, CA | 4/2012-3/2019
- Managed a successful pipeline design project over four years while cutting costs and improving efficiency.
- Devised and implemented plan to diversify the workforce while providing scholarships, internships, and jobs for women engineers of color.
Since leaving my role as project manager, I've spent the last 2+ years starting a family, assuming various volunteer roles, and tackling periodic consulting work.
Pacific Grove Food Distribution Center | Pacific Grove, CA | 8/2019-12/2020
- Developed a plan to distribute meals to more than 1,000 people per week.
- Trained and managed a team of volunteers, showing them how to organize and maintain successful fundraising events.
- Planned three fundraising events, which brought in more than $5,000 for the food bank.
Pacific Grove Homeless Shelter | Pacific Grove, CA | 1/2021-03/2021
- Prepared and distributed food, goods, and resources.
- Provided help and support as guests transitioned into new homes.
Pacific Grove Software | Pacific Grove, CA | 3/2021-9/2021
- Worked part time to lead a team of 10+ consultants.
- Provided critical business insights to enhance company offerings and streamline business processes.
- Planned and implemented robust solutions for global business accounts.
Mechanical Engineering | Bachelor of Science
California Polytechnic Institute, San Luis Obispo, CA | 8/2004-5/2008
Skills and Certifications
- Trimble SketchUp Pro
Feature Image: MoMo Productions / DigitalVision / Getty Images