Welcome to the August edition of my monthly Entrepreneur Feature! This month I’ve invited Professional Resume Writer Sara Garska to create a guest post about how to land your dream job after being a stay at home mom. Not only has she lived it, but she’s helped others to start a killer new career (not simply a job) even after spending years at home!
You might have noticed that we share a very uncommon name, and yes, she is my mom. However, she is also an inspiration and one of my biggest supporters who encouraged me to go after my own dreams of writing for a living. In fact, it was her idea to start this blog in the first place as a creative outlet, and it was she who suggested that I could potentially make an income doing so (I had no idea people did that!)
She has such a wealth of knowledge about what companies are looking for, what skills you need, and how to create a resume that makes you look like the superstar you are. Here are her top tips for moms looking to get back into the workplace, whether it’s the corporate world or going into business for yourself:
How to Land Your Dream Job After Being a Stay at Home Mom
by Sara Garska, ACRW
Returning to work someday may be the farthest thing from your mind. Getting through the day’s laundry and dishes may seem challenging enough. However, as a woman and a mother your probable return to the workplace deserves a place in your thinking and in your schedule.
Reestablishing ourselves in the workplace is sometimes easier said than done—especially after a break to raise a family. The outlook is discouraging at best for Stay At Home Moms as they often find a job market that has left them behind and doesn’t recognize their value.
Meaningful work is one of the true joys of life. Raising children is rewarding and something most of us never regret. Yet, in the end, our children do grow up and if we haven’t done anything to keep ourselves valuable in the eyes of future employers, we will face the sad reality of not being able to find work that seems worth returning to.
Rather than occasionally making time for yourself (and we all know how well that usually goes); you systematically and consistently schedule and strictly adhere to making career development a priority in your life. It is so easy to lose yourself in the taking care of your family—often for years.
[disclaim]Make your home a place that will inspire you! Recommended reading: Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life[/disclaim]
Begin now to consistently add to your marketable skills. To help you get started, I’m giving you strategic actions to choose from. Some are longer-term and picking one may be enough. Others are shorter in duration and you might be able to do several over the year. Get started! I promise you, investing time and money in yourself is something you will NEVER regret.
Let’s start with education. My advice here is to start small, as in one class a semester. It’s tempting to see how much you have to do and want to do as much as possible right away. Just ignore that temptation. Take one class and commit to acing it. College records are permanent and doing poorly in classes or withdrawing can not only affect your record it can affect your financial aid.
If you haven’t looked into community college, you won’t believe all they have to offer. Today’s community college is a wonderful education choice for so many reasons. They are affordable and the campuses and classes are often smaller than at universities.
One of the best reasons to consider community college is that they offer programs that are tailored to your specific community. Look for “state” community colleges—this is where you will find affordable coursework and transferable credit. Many local colleges offer significant online options as well as face-to-face classes.
Here are some ways to use a community college:
Kick off a four-year program. As four-year colleges continue to get more expensive, students of all ages are flocking to CC to do the first half of their Bachelor Degrees. Here in Texas, the curriculum is designed to merge seamlessly into a four-year degree in many cases.
Get an Associate Degree. Some Associate Degrees offer the opportunity to make more in salary than a Bachelor’s degree or even a Master’s degree. An Associate Degree is designed to give you in-demand job skills for your geographic area. Many vocational types of training are now being offered as Associate Degrees as well.
Start with a Certificate. Some training lends itself to a shorter-length duration. If you need job skills quickly to get you working, then this may be the way to approach your education. Look for certificates where the classes will go towards your Associate Degree.
Check out Community Education options. Another way to pick up some skills or training is to look for non-credit classes. These will not hold the same value as for-credit classes but may just be what you need for the short-term.
Maybe you already have your degree but need to address some of the skills that are required on a lot of job descriptions. People tend to overrate their own computer skills. Knowing your way around your laptop and social media does not mean you have employment-ready computer skills. Here are some generally useful proficiencies to have:
- Microsoft Word
- Microsoft Excel
- Desktop Publishing
- Website Design
Again, your local community college may be a great place to get any of the above training. Another place is to look into online training. One site that I have successfully used is www.Lynda.com. You pay a monthly fee to do a self-paced training. Sign up for a month or two and do a few programs. They are divided into modules so that you can pace yourself in a way to fit your schedule.
Gaining Experience and Reducing the Gap
Nothing beats getting real job experience. When I was a young mother of three and finishing up my Master’s degree, I knew that I needed work experience. I volunteered and found part-time work in my career field.
Volunteering and working part-time in your career field are ways to stay current and learn new skills. It also reduces any gaps on your resume. When I finally returned to full-time work, my only relevant experience was part-time and volunteer work. I used this experience on my resume and I was able to get a job in my field that I truly loved.
Developing Your Own Business
Becoming a entrepreneur is gaining in popularity. The Internet makes the entire world your potential market. I’m not talking about “Internet get rich” scams. I’m talking about real things you can do from your home that make use of skills and work experience you already have!
Provide virtual support to others. www.Elance.com is a well know place that brings virtual providers of services together with the people that want to hire them. Many of the entrepreneurs that I know have hired virtual assistants and website help from www.Elance.com.
Is there something you make? Setting up a store on www.etsy.com is easy. If you have a craft that people are always after you to make, consider setting up your own storefront.
Create your own website/blog. This can be a learning experience in its own right even if you never make money from it. Going through the process of creating a website and writing a blog will teach you many skills and provide an example of work you have done. Done correctly, you can also showcase your expertise in certain areas.
Write a book/guide/how-to guide. Were you really good at something? How about sharing it with others? If you can do this, it also gives you a product to promote on your website.
Going Back to a Specific Career
If you had a career and are planning on returning to this field choose a few of these activities to keep involved, relevant, and not forgotten.
- Look at job descriptions in your field and see what employers are looking for—if you see gaps, take steps to address these gaps now.
- Keep in touch with former co-workers. Social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter make this more possible than ever. Don’t just depend on virtual methods though. Try to schedule lunch or an after-work drink with former co-workers.
- Keep up you industry reading. Know what’s going on.
- Look for industry sponsored events or conferences.
- Use LinkedIn to follow specific companies and industries and to connect with others.
- Join and attend professional organizations that are targeted to your career.
- Create your own “mommy” group with the specific purpose to continue career development and to hold each other accountable to growing as professionals.
As a mom, consciously developing your career can make you an even more awesome mom than you already are. This isn’t about taking time away from your family; it’s about investing in your future. And that is also an investment in your family!
Want more inspiration? Check out what Sara is reading: