Women returning to the workforce
Are you thinking of returning to a career since being out of the workplace after raising your children? Or maybe other economic circumstances require that you return to work.
When you’ve been out of professional circulation for a while, you need to take a few extra steps to get your career back on track, says Bonnie Halper, chief executive of Sendresume.com and a specialist in technology recruiting.
Focus on honing one key, cutting-edge skill that will demonstrate to interviewers that you are up-to-date on the most recent developments, she says. Be open to considering different job titles, she says in an interview in Money magazine. “People focus on two or three skills they have but forget they have a dozen (that) more employers might want.”
The rocky road back to a career after several years at home caring for children is one traveled by millions of Americans every year and comes at a steep price. In addition to the income lost during the nonworking years, female professionals who take three or more years off earn 37 percent less on average than women who haven’t taken time off, according to a study for the Center for Work-Life Policy.
Employers court women
Meanwhile, a growing number of U.S. employers are taking major steps to help women return to the workforce after taking time off to raise kids.
Financial giants Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers, along with Deloitte & Touche, among others, have begun targeted recruitment, special retraining, and mentoring to gain trained employees in accounting, consulting, and finance. These companies are trying to win women back by offering flexible schedules and reviving their neglected professional networks. Such efforts are called “on-ramping,” because they create a path back into the workplace.
Overall, tactics being used by employers to lure at-home moms back to work range from invitations to office parties and meetings to offering at-home work projects and assigning internal recruiters to match skills with openings.
Prepare for the interview
Expect to face some tough questions in job interviews, says career counselor Nancy Collamer of jobsandmoms.com. Make it clear that you have the motivation and ability to handle anything the job might throw at you, she says.
Learn more about the demands of the position while brushing past inappropriate personal questions about your family, Ms. Collamer says. Don’t apologize for taking time off; staying home to take care of children and manage a household requires as many talents as a paying job.
Follow industry developments by subscribing to trade journals, reading online blogs by industry insiders, and signing up for Google news alerts keyed to important industry issues.
In short, do what’s necessary to make your years out of the workforce invisible to interviewers.
Pros and cons
Going back to work may entail child-care costs, transportation expenses, and, in all likelihood increased expenses for take-out food as well as a back-to-work wardrobe. And don’t forget taxes.
But even if your net pay isn’t much, the long-term benefits may more than justify returning to work. A good job now may lead to a better one later, while the longer you stay out of the workforce the harder it may be to return.
“People tend to focus on the immediate cash-flow issue, but the long-term financial consequences should be an equally relevant consideration,” says Kristin Maschka, president of the nonprofit Mothers and More organization.
GOING BACK TO WORK HELP
Check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site at www.bls.gov/oco. It details salaries and training programs.
Interested in being a chef? Work part time in a restaurant. A nurse? Volunteer at a hospital. Join a professional organization and network with people in the field.
Expand your network: More than three-fourths of jobs are found through personal contact. Tell a friend if you hear of a job that would suit her. Remember, what goes around, comes around.
Over 50? Retired Brains, www.retiredbrains.com, is a jobs board that lists available part-time, full-time, and temporary positions.
Senior Job Bank, (888) 501-0804 or online at www.seniorjobbank.org, has listings for seniors.