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How to find a job after being a stay-at-home parent

By Alison Rodericks | 19 August 2019

You took a career break to raise a family. You’ve done the hard yards – the sleepless nights, teething troubles, school assemblies, playdates… One year rolled into eight, but now it’s time to claim back your career. But how do you switch from being a stay-at-home-parent to a skilled professional? 

How do you find a job that suits you and your new family? How do you get back your career mojo after such a long break? 

Transitioning back into the workforce after a long hiatus can be daunting and fraught with worry and a lot of personal adjustment. 

You want to be taken seriously as a qualified candidate, but you feel out of touch with everything from technology to your teammates. 

Here are some strategies you can use to make the process as seamless as possible.

7 tips on finding a job after being a stay-at-home parent 

  1. Notify contacts and network constantly.
  2. Rework your resume.
  3. Practise till it’s perfect.
  4. Do your research.
  5. Upgrade your qualifications.
  6. Volunteer your skills.
  7. Banish negativity.

1. Notify contacts and network constantly.

It’s true what they say, it’s not what you know but who you know that really counts. Now’s not the time to feel shy about asking friends, family and former workmates if they have any connections that could help restart your career. Go through your contact list, connect with people who know you professionally and let them know you want to return to work. 

Call up your old boss and former colleagues and ask if there are any available positions. Most organisations will find it easier to rehire an ex-employee, especially if you were a high performer. 

You’re more likely to be hired by people who know your strong work ethic and can vouch for your character. Also make sure you join professional organisations, subscribe to professional journals and keep abreast of industry trends. 

2. Rework your resume.

resume concept

Most people returning to work after being a stay-at-home parent wonder whether or not to include their years spent at home on their resume. We suggest that your cover letter is a more appropriate place to explain your employment gap

Yes, your CV will have a gaping hole for the entire duration you’ve been a stay-at-home parent, but don’t let this be your downfall. Instead, have an explanation ready for this since potential interviewers will want to know what you've been up to for the past few years. 

One way to do this is to rewrite your resume using a functional format instead of the more common chronological format so that it emphasises your skills rather than your recent work history. Put your abilities and skills upfront and make sure to include any volunteer and freelance work.

3. Practise till it’s perfect.

When you start your job search, you need to be able to talk to anyone you meet about why you’re returning to work and what you hope to find in a job. While you don’t want to dismiss the entire time you’ve spent at home raising a family, you don’t want to put too much emphasis on it either. 

Mention the fact that you’ve taken time off but now you’re waiting to get back into the workforce. Downplay your role as a parent and focus instead on transferable professional skills. 

Practise what you’ll say out loud, in front of a mirror or record yourself on your phone. Hone your one-minute “elevator pitch” until it sounds concise, natural and interesting. 

4. Do your research.

woman doing research on laptop

Look up family-friendly companies and target them. Many larger organisations have realised the value of parents and carers returning to work and offer paid internships – sometimes called “returnships” – for parents returning to the workforce after an extended period spent child rearing. 

Create a digital footprint, especially on Twitter and LinkedIn, by sharing and commenting on posts to demonstrate that you’re fully engaged with the people, news and ideas in your field of employment. 

5. Upgrade your qualifications.

Technology is always changing, and it’s essential for you as a job seeker to keep up-to-date on the latest industry best practices. Very often, stay-at-home parents re-examine their career goals and often consider a career change

Do your research and then choose a course that aligns with your (new) career path. Update your certifications, attend seminars and conferences or enrol in a course. Not only will they give you the knowledge you need, they’re also great for networking. 

6. Volunteer your skills.

If you’re trying to switch careers and don’t have the necessary qualifications or experience, it’s worthwhile exploring volunteering opportunities. Volunteer work can be a way to update your skills, establish professional contacts and leverage your skill set in a new capacity.

Contact organisations and ask for the opportunity to work pro bono – but do not let them take advantage of your skills. 

Make sure you include these volunteering stints in your resume, showcasing your accomplishments. You also need to mention any volunteering or community engagement you’ve done while you were a stay-at-home parent.

7. Banish negativity.

Remember, getting back into the workforce takes time. Don’t let negative thoughts lead to a downward spiral. Learn from your setbacks and try again. Devote at least a couple of hours every day towards job searching and updating your skills. Make a regular daily schedule for job searching so you won’t get side-tracked. Be patient, consider your goals and limitations, and be positive

Are you ready to upskill?

Upskilled offers a range of flexible online courses to help make your transition from parenthood into the workplace easier. If you’re thinking about updating your skills, look up the extensive course list or speak to an Upskilled education consultant to learn more. For more helpful career advice, follow SkillsTalk for more fresh content.  
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