With Mother's Day approaching, it's time to appreciate all the many things mom does to care for her family. She's a teacher, a chauffeur, a computer operator and a psychologist and many times, she put her career on hold to become a full-time parent.
At some point, several of those who have put their careers on back burner will make the decision to re-enter the workforce; sometimes driven by economic factors such as rising gas prices or jobs cuts. Chicago outplacement consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. estimate that there were 200,656 job cuts in the first quarter of 2008—no doubt impacting family incomes. As a result, many stay-at-home moms may find it necessary to re-enter the workforce after not having worked a traditional desk job for a period of time.
The good news is that more and more employers see value in the skills moms bring back with her into the workforce. Despite current economic conditions, over 80% of employers are actively recruiting moms due to the decreasing availability of talent. Many employers seek the skills mom develops as she raises her children. These skills can be transferred into the work place and have tangible value in the recruiting process. Employers rated the top transferable skills to be project management, organization, decision-making, multi-tasking, consensus building, conflict resolution, team building, and negotiation skills. In fact, many might argue that it is takes more consensus building and negotiation skills to persuade a group of six-year olds to eat their vegetables than it is to convince a CEO to fund an ad budget.
On a serious note, Moms can take several steps to become more marketable to a potential employer despite an extended period away from the workplace. Follow these guidelines to become a "marketable mom."
Be your best friend not your own worst enemy
It is common to feel like your skills are outdated. Bear in mind that many employers are experiencing worker shortages and are more open to your circumstances than a decade ago. Focus on what you do well.
Make a skill set list
Write down the skills it takes for you to do your different mom jobs such as all the tasks you did to produce the school computer fundraising event and accompanying website. This would be a great example of the type of project management skills employers value.
Over 78% of employers use employee referrals as a primary method of recruitment. Join networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Post your profile. Remind people that you are available and ask for help in finding a job.
Decide on Part-Time vs. Full-Time
Employers want full-time employees. Often times, a mom's desire to work part-time conflicts with employers need. Be prepared to negotiate alternative solutions such as working at home or flex time to find a win-win arrangement.
Make volunteer work count
Volunteer work can keep you skills sharp and can be a strong resume builder. Be selective and make sure you know how it could apply to a future job opportunity.
Feel like your excel is rusty? Don't know what a web browser is? Don't know what's happening in your former field? Subscribe to trade publications. Sign up for an on-line class. It's easy to brush up on your skills on your own time with on-line courses, networking sites and trade publications.
Update your resume
Don't be daunted by gaps. Consider a resume format the highlights your skills up top and your experience as supporting data to help focus you on what you bring to a job.
In some cases, you may have to re-enter at a different level or at a smaller company that pays less than where you where at when you left the workforce. Don't assume you're taking a step back or settling. Think about the tradeoffs that are important to you such as short commute, good health benefits and / or flexible work hours in addition to things like title, job responsibilities and size of company.