October 4, 2010
Tips for stay-at-home moms reentering the workforce
A common question I'm hearing in the job-hunting community these days is how stay-at-home moms who want to reenter the workforce can deal with the overwhelming competition in the market and find a job.
The biggest challenges most stay-at-home moms must overcome are a lengthy gap on their resumes and employers' perceptions that these candidates might not have the up-to-date knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to perform the required work. These challenges can be mitigated with the following strategies:
If you're not the strongest on paper, you have to become the best relationship manager out there. One thing you have going for you is time, the main thing most professionals crave. Start out by learning who are the most influential contacts in your industry and come up with a plan to reach out to these people.
You need to recognize that employers use various ways to recruit today and the hiring game has changed. Create a one page marketing plan and research the various recruiting methods your target companies might use to find talent.
A client of mine got an interview scheduled with T-Mobile because her husband is friends with the hiring manager's husband. Although my client has a 10-year gap on her resume, human resources was forced to schedule the interview per the hiring manager's request. (When it comes to hiring, Seattle reminds me of France; the way to get a job in Paris is to know people and that's precisely how it works here.)
Not all of you will get lucky enough to land an interview with an A-level employer, and you'll need to adjust your expectations and your approach. A client of mine had not worked in public relations for more than three years. Trying to fill in the gap, she researched startups where she could volunteer with her PR expertise. She found several employers that hired her for writing press releases, researching media contacts, event planning and community management work. These activities led to her finding full-time work.
Startups don't have the luxury to hire the most qualified candidates and are willing to settle for less. You can use this to your advantage and offer relevant expertise to get hired by the firm and flesh out your resume with current experience, even if it's only short-term or volunteer work. Working at a startup also allows you to wear many hats, so you can acquire new skills quickly without going through the bureaucracy of larger employers.
Last, but not least, consider contracting. Many employers are hiring temporary employees for various durations - usually three months to one year. Contracts give the employer the ability to try you out without going through the full expenses of hiring a W2 employee. You can still negotiate good benefits (including vacation and sick pay) through the agency that will write your paycheck. To find a contract firm, ask around and see who specializes in your industry. Also make sure to familiarize yourself with the vendor management system most firms use during hiring.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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