Getting back to work after being at home can be a daunting task - but it's not impossible, and you can get back up to speed quicker than you'd expect. To give us tips on re-entering the workforce, we had author Barbara Moses on the show!
How high should your expectations be about finding work once you've decided to go back to work?
Sometimes it's a function of your employability and the degree to which your job or expertise have been affected by the economy. If you're in a high demand position, you are likely going to find work.
It also depends on what your skills are, how long you've been out of the workplace and how up to date you've kept your skills. If your profession has changed rapidly since you left, it's a question of how knowledgeable you are about your industry.
If your work world has changed and you haven't kept up, then expect finding a job to be challenging.
You say all life chapters count when it comes to relevant work experience, what do you mean by that?
Anything is meaningful if you've made it meaningful. Ie. If your children have been your primary focus but you've been on the PTA or volunteered on a board or volunteered with your kids this shows your ability to lead and your desire to stay connected, which are all relevant factors.
There's no such thing as "just a" stay at home mom-that doesn't mean you do nothing. Looking after kids, running a household, taking care of finances, volunteering being on a board all qualify as giving you skills and you can add these skills to your portfolio.
You say it's important to know yourself and know your story before entering the workforce?
You need to think of what your skills are and what story your accomplishments are telling-are there themes? What is going to speak most directly to the employer?
Think about the job you're applying for and how your skills mesh with that job - think like a recruiter and what you would be looking for in a person.
I.e. If hiring a TV producer, can they get to essence of the matter quickly? Can they establish rapport? Can they react quickly?
If you've been a stay-at-home mom for ten years, how should you represent that on your resume?
There are different ways of handling it - for instance writing "caregiver"-outline activities involved in this role.
People handle representing themselves differently.
Resume: you can set up a resume in terms of skills rather than career history. A chronological resume starts with your most recent job experience, etc.
A functional resume helps explain to potential employers what you're good at: organize all experiences and skills in terms of accomplishments and think long and hard to describe the best way to say who you are:
I.e. Leadership, community involvement, financial acumen, etc.
Then put a couple accomplishments under each heading that speak to each heading.
Taking your resume to a professional resume writer doesn't work-it really is about telling your story and requires thinking.
You also say to "mine" your network and leverage your contacts?
Let people know that you're looking for a job and the kind of work you're looking for...one person used the "eyes and ears" method sending a mass email to everyone asking people to keep their ears and eyes open about job opportunities and let them know what your key skills are, what you're looking for and thank them in advance.
There is a strategic way to network.
Flatter the person you want to ask for advice - try and request a brief over-the-phone chat. Ask for the best way to do this-by phone? Email? In person?
Have a good reason to call your contact, ask intelligent questions, make yourself charming and pleasant (tell me a joke, share an anecdote-tell an interesting story).
How do you suggest preparing for interviews?
First step before any of this is know yourself: it's game over if you can't quickly and clearly articulate what you've done, what your skills are... women tend to be overly apologetic or over-explain things - don't apologize!
You have to communicate that not working was something important to you and for various reasons you've chosen to re-engage with the workplace.
Be ruthless in doing a self assessment - that's the foundation for the resume and selling yourself in an interview-have compelling language about who you are and what you're good at.
Review the notes and assessments you did - play them over and over in your head so when interviewer asks you to tell them about yourself you are armed with the information.
If a potential employer were to ask you to describe a situation that shows your leadership skills-have an answer prepared!
Do a mock interview if you want - people learn differently - some do it themselves and read their resume over and over again.
The sidebar to the practice is that you can come across as overly wooden/rehearsed.
You're human - it's okay to be nervous.
Just say that you're nervous and that you're so excited about the job and it's really important to you. Be human. Smiling is amazing - it's a great 'get out of jail free card.'
And finally, it might seem obvious, but you suggest to invest in your appearance when applying and interviewing for jobs-hair cut, outfit, etc.
Think about the industry - dress appropriately to the job: if you're a lawyer then dress more conservative.
Look up-to-date - there's a stay-at-home mom haircut, so make sure you go to a good salon and get a good haircut.
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