This has been a popular conversation as of late, with many friends who have children getting older and entering grade school. Let me first be candid: being a stay-at-home is absolutely of the busiest, most demanding, selfless and time intensive jobs out there. It’s frustrating that it doesn’t always look that way to employers so you need some strategy to find what you want to do next, or in tandem because we all know the mom duties don’t go away when you get a “another” job.
So, if you’re a SAHM looking to connect back with your professional passions, it’s important to consider how you can make up for that “gap” in your resume and appeal to a potential employer.
Here’s what to do:
First, be honest with what you want to do now.
It’s likely been at least 3-5, if not 10 years since you last worked. Are you still passionate about the job in the industry where you have a degree or last worked? Do you now have experience or interest in another field? Give this serious thought; do not simply default back to what you did before thinking if it’s what you want to do next.
Review your resume and cover letter.
Has it been YEARS since you looked at yours? Update, refresh and think about how you can best position yourself. If you’ve had previous jobs, move those above your education; it’s what employers care most about. Have you volunteered? Add that in. Consider the additional skills you bring to the workplace and integrate them into your resume and your cover letter; sell yourself and put the emphasis on all of your skills. Use active tense and think about each and every bullet point. The goal is to land an interview through this one sheet of paper.
Update your social status.
And, by social status, I mean your online presence! Do you have a LinkedIn profile? If not, create one and make it thorough. Potential employers will google your name so you want to be as pro-active as possible to ensure they’re going to find what you want them to.
Determine your “elevator pitch”.
This is the super short way you’d market yourself in the time it would take you to ride up on an elevator with someone. As you’re meeting new people, networking and interviewing, focus on saying what you’ve done related to the field you’re interested in. “I’m a former marketing executive; I’ve been focused on raising our two children the past few years but really looking for a new challenge and am eager to find a new role in marketing or digital marketing.” — something like that… it’s honest but immediately focuses on what you want to do now. And, don’t be shy about telling people you’re looking for work; most people want to help others, and find joy in making those connections.
A great way to fill in resume gaps is to volunteer, whether in your prospective industry or any! At a minimum, it shows your passion and that you are pro-active, interested in the broader community and can make a time commitment. I once hired someone who spent a few months voluntarily doing PR for a nonprofit; I loved his pro-active nature, and the results he brought to the table, even though he only had professional experience in other field. He really demonstrated to me how his skills set applied to this role, and combined with his volunteer experience, made me want to take the chance on him.
Look for organizations — Chambers, professional organizations, women’s groups — to connect with other professional people. Don’t talk to only people you know, go with a goal of getting five new business cards or making at least five new connections. Follow up with these people; email, ask them for coffee, find a way to help them with something.
Who are yours? Best friends are great and can absolutely help advocate for you, however you also want someone to speak to your professional skills. That’s where volunteering, networking and connecting with others, as well as staying in touch with previous employers and colleagues is a huge asset. Reach out to people, build back relationships, do all the things to help you have a strong network.
Practice the Interview.
Interviewing is tough, for everyone. Just like anything, you can think you have something down in your head but once you say it aloud, you wind up not conveying what you intended, become long-winded or get off track. Ask a trusted friend to practice; say aloud why you’re interested in a certain field, what skills you bring to the table, your passions, how you think your time at home is an asset to an employer, etc.
Remember, you got this! You worked your tush off at home, helping raise and mold little human beings. Feel confident in who you are, what you can provide to employer and walk in with confidence and a smile, ready to wow. (And, remember, if you’re unsure, you fake it until you make it!).
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