For a lot of women who chose to go the stay-at-home route, re-entering the workforce is, at best, a lesson in overcoming insecurity, and at worst, a strategic nightmare. How do I explain the gap? The technology is way ahead of me, how do I catch up? What do I do about that space on my resume? Who will hire me now?
Three steps to get you started:
1. Get over it. Too many women feel shame having made the choice to stay at home. If you feel embarrassment, you’ll project that and will be viewed through the lens of insecurity. Even women who know it was the right decision have some sort of inner struggle with their choice, as though they are less than because of that choice. Get that you are not, or no one else will. Whatever that struggle, understand it, own it, and shake it off. Regret is a buzz kill. And who the hell cares what that high minded career focused woman thinks…we all make choices that suit our styles, don’t judge her, and you will let go of caring whether she is judging you.
Put on a gorgeous suit, adopt a “you know you want me” attitude, and think about how cool your kids are and how glad you are that you took the time to raise them. Just because you hung out in your sweats for the last two years (or ten) does NOT mean you get to lose your swagger – go ahead, practice….with heels.
2. Resume. Under no circumstances do you leave a gap in your resume. Tackle it head on with something like this:
01/05 – 8/08 At-Home-Mom: Endlessly rewarding duties and activities in the raising of two children.
If you’ve been out of the workforce for more than three to five years, you’ll need to get a little more creative. Think back on projects you’ve headed up or community service functions you’ve led. Done any writing? Offered advice to a friend who’s running a small business? Can you get away with calling yourself a business consultant? Write it down and talk with friends to remind you about accomplishments you may have forgotten.
Additionally, if you have your MBA, highlight it at the top. A degree carries weight, even with a gap.
3. Network. I know, you forgot how and the people at your last company are vague recollections. Fine. Check out LinkedIn and fully develop your online profile with LinkedIn. Add a professional photo, list your experience, seek out people with a professional background you’re interested in and link with them. Ask them for their expertise — everyone has an ego so get to fluffing theirs and ask for advice on how to proceed. Get on Facebook, let your friends know you’re looking. Check out TwitterSearch.com and do a search for job titles you’re interested in. Use the web to your advantage, there is a ton of information to get you moving in the right direction.
Jennifer Taylor is the Director for Permanent Placement at Robert Half, International. She is an award winning recruiter, and proudly raised her son as a single mom.