Essential Job Search Strategies For Parents Returning To The Workforce

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job search strategies for parents

Returning to work after spending time as a stay-at-home parent can be both challenging and intimidating. But with a few simple prep steps, you can eliminate the anxiety and boost your chances of finding the most rewarding employment possibilities. Very few people these days are surprised by employment gaps in a candidate’s resume. Still, preparation is the key to success with most processes. And, in case of returning to a workplace after being a stay-at-home parent, this preparation involves careful thinking about your professional future and strategic steps to execute your plan.

Job Search Strategies For Parents Returning To The Workforce

If you are one such parent, contemplating a return to the workforce, it’s only understandable that you’d be juggling a lot of emotions, feelings, and thoughts. From the emotional and logistic labor of finding the right childcare to finding the right opportunities, there really are a lot of boxes to check. We’re here to help with these job search strategies that can make the transition easier for parents returning to the workforce:

1. reevaluate your professional priorities

Even when it is filled with parenting chores, time away from the office is a great chance to reevaluate your career prospects and motives. You’ve already taken a step back, and now you can take an objective glance at which aspects of your professional environment fulfill you and which mainly result in occupational burnout.

Of course, you would want to limit the last one to a possible minimum, if not a complete stop. So, sit back and ask yourself — what is it that you truly want from a job? There is no better time than this break to find an honest answer to this question. If that tip seems too vague, start with the following:

  • Part-time vs. full-time: Your life has already changed — for another 18 years or so — so full-time employment may no longer be your best option. Besides, time away from the office often shows us that working fixed hours is not always the best way to get the job done right
  • Gig jobs vs. flexible schedule hours: One way to balance family and professional life could be to look for a more flexible schedule. This could mean an employer encouraging remote, flexible hours or going fully independent as a gig contractor. The second one also means that you can be your boss!
  • Income expectations: Of course, everyone wants to earn well, but often, higher compensations come with more responsibilities and extra hours — something you may no longer be up to. Consider the highest and lowest compensation limits and think how much you are prepared to offer in return
  • Professional interests: Sometimes, our professional interests change. A parental leave is the perfect time to consider professional changes — minor ones, like a shift to remote work, or major ones, like radically changing the industry

2. Inform yourself about any changes in the industry

If you have decided not to switch industries too radically, it is still possible that a lot has changed while you were away — especially in innovative tech careers. Of course, it is unlikely that a few years of parental leave will make you learn everything from scratch, especially if you have kept up-to-date with the most important news and developments in your niche. Still, you may need to invest some time in bringing your skills up to the required level. Depending on the industry you work in, it can mean signing up for several seminars, workshops, or online courses, or simply informing yourself about the new software that is currently used in your professional environment.

Related Reading: Worst Parenting Mistakes We Always Make And Should Immediately Correct

3. Make yourself visible on social media

Parenting is not the best time to actively engage on LinkedIn or any other social media sites relevant to your professional industry — everyone understands that. But it is also essential to prepare the ground for your professional reemergence, and social media offers a unique opportunity for doing that from the comfort of your home. Besides, as you start researching for updates in your industry, you will not be able to avoid industry-focused social channels.

Take some time to familiarize yourself with the current professional situation and start engaging with the content shared by other experts in your industry. Alternatively, you can search for sites and groups run for stay-at-home dads and moms with similar careers and education. This is an excellent opportunity to get some industry-specific tips for returning to a workplace from people who share the same experience.

4. Get back in touch with your professional circle

Getting active on social media already allows you to reestablish ties with your former colleagues and clients. But sometimes, you may have to be even more active. Consider contacting your former employers, clients, or colleagues, and tell them you are available for work. Here, contacting the people directly is the best approach.

Even if you have misplaced their contact details (which happens to everyone), or people you need to reach have changed their communication channels, it’s still better to use a LinkedIn email finder (or extract contact data from any other social network) and send a direct message. This is an entirely logical, natural thing to do if you want to reestablish contact with people you worked with before.

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5. Update your resume

Once you have reached out to former colleagues, it’s time you start updating your resume. The chances are that, soon enough, potential employers will want to see it — especially if you have done all the previous prep steps right. Here, the main trick is to explain any employment gaps in your resume skillfully. Even though no one gets surprised by parental leave, you should still highlight that the break from work was planned and, more importantly, temporary.

Besides, there are plenty of ideas on how you can leverage any, even remotely, industry-related activities you engaged in while you were away. Those can be volunteering initiatives, remote consulting, personal blogging, attending online seminars to keep upgrading your skills, or even helping with organizing school or kindergarten activities — anything works as long as it shows that you were not entirely beyond your professional landscape.

Related Reading: 6 Stages Of Parenthood: Find Out Which Stage You Are In Now!

6. Get ready to take a proactive approach

Sitting and waiting before someone invites you to send them a resume is not enough sometimes. You can take a more proactive approach by researching companies that might be interested in professionals like you. For this, you do not necessarily have to limit yourself to Google.

In fact, you can do this more efficiently with tools like SignalHire that can help you look for contact details of individual professionals and corporations. You can set any search parameters you wish to achieve the best results — industry, location, company name, etc. The results will show a brief overview of companies in a relevant industry and contact details of the company’s employees — often top executives and recruiters.

7. Prepare for job interviews

The final tip is to rehearse job interviews with your friends or family — primarily if they work in similar industries. After all, making the right impression during a job interview is mostly about confidence and the ability to highlight your skills from the most favorable perspective. In case of returning to work after parental leave, it is vital to speak about your professional gap with calm confidence. So, ask the friend you trust to rehearse some unexpected trick questions with you, and the best of luck during an actual job interview!

With these simple, actionable tips, you can carve a successful roadmap for your journey back to the workforce, and build a career that allows you to have just the kind of work-life balance you need. Good luck!

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