7 job search tips for parents going back to work

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If your most significant role in recent years has been full time parent, transitioning back into paid employment can be nerve wracking.

Here are my top 7 tips to make the process less stressful and more successful.

1) It’s normal to feel anxious

When you’re a stay at home parent it can feel like you live on another planet to the rest of the world. Maybe you’re worried about how potential employers will view the gap on your resume, not to mention how smoothly (or not) things will run at home in your absence. It’s normal to have confidence issues during this time. Just remember that your fears about being out of touch don’t necessarily reflect reality.

2) Give yourself credit

You may have taken a career break but you didn’t spend it on the sofa watching Grey’s Anatomy, so don’t put yourself down. Parenting is not an easy job (hello understatement) and you have developed valuable new skills that will benefit you in the workplace. Parents who return to work tend to have a stronger work ethic, for example, not to mention superior time management skills and many employers value these attributes.

3) Audit your skills

List all the roles you’ve had in the past (including full time parent) and the tasks you performed in each one. Now list the skills required to carry out those tasks. Examples might include: caring for others, conflict management and delegation. You may also be good at showing empathy and giving direction (just guessing!). Document everything because you are going to use this list to update your resume later. Here is a list of the top skills employers look for to help you along.

4) Research the market

If you know what kind of role you want, start researching relevant job descriptions to see what employers are looking for. Do your skills match their selection criteria? If not, now is the time to think about acquiring those you lack. You don’t have to enrol in formal training to do this. You might be able to find a free course or webinar online that offers what you need. Check out Open to Study or MOOCS.

5) Network like a motherfucker

Whatever you do, please don’t limit yourself to the advertised job market particularly if you’re searching for part-time work. These roles are hard to come by and not always advertised. Your best bet is to start networking like crazy. Get in touch with people you know, including those from your child’s school, crèche, your parents’ group, friends and neighbours and let them know about your plans. Ask them to keep an ear out for opportunities. Send them an email. Update your LinkedIn profile, connect with your contacts and follow companies of interest on social media. If you can engage with potential employers online it will give you an advantage over other applicants.

6) Update your resume

Review the skills audit from earlier and add these to the first page of your resume. If you want to address your time out of the paid workforce, there are a number of approaches you can take. One option is to include it in the career profile: “I am returning to teaching after spending 5 years as a full time mother and I have stayed up to date with relevant training and industry developments during that time.” If you need to explain a long gap in your employment history, you could create an entry under “full time mum/dad” and list the skills you acquired (e.g. multitasking) or responsibilities held, (e.g. managing the family budget).

7) Brush up on your interview skills

If you haven’t been interviewed in years don’t be tempted to wing it. It will make you feel even more nervous on the day and that can seriously hamper your performance. I recommend that you review some common interview questions online and practice your responses with a friend. Good luck!

How do you feel about returning to work?