After having kids, many moms will take only a brief maternity leave before heading back to work. But for many moms, having kids means an extended or even permanent break from work. For some, their wages don’t actually offset the cost of childcare when they’re at work. Others may want to take on a more prominent role at home until their kids go to school. And still others see it as a job shift, from career woman to stay-at-home mom.
While each mom’s choice to work is one she must make with her family, it’s important to know what may lie ahead if she does decide to go back to work.
For one thing, depending on how long the mom is away from the workforce, technology may have substantially changed in the years she has stayed at home. There is also a big difference if the mom has been off for two-to-three years or eighteen.
The same is true for availability. So much of the workforce is becoming automated, and the jobs that will appear in the next decade may not have been invented yet. Couple that with the competition from workers just out of college, who may have up-to-date training or are willing to work for less money, and opting back into the workforce after a break can become extremely difficult.
So if you’re a mom who wants to go back to work after a break, what can you do to prepare to get back into the workforce?
First, check your ego. Even if you held a high-ranking title before, many corporations will want their potential employees to have very current knowledge of the field, which an extended break can hamper. Whatever you once did will matter little. It’s almost impossible to just pick up where you left off.
Also, if you were earning a high salary, you may not be able to get anywhere near close to what you used to make. This is because there are fewer jobs since the recession, and there is greater competition. And there will be a gap in your resume (the truth is that companies generally don’t count volunteering at schools or PTA service as resume enrichers). Returning to the workforce after a break can mean you have to accept a lower salary. Also important to consider: returning to the workforce after a break to have kids also means you may have to move back down in the hierarchy before you can move back up.
In the meantime, while you’re getting your resume in shape, or if you’re still in the contemplation phase of getting back into the workforce, start with some serious networking. This is especially helpful if you have an eye toward the long-game and you can build up your network over a bigger stretch of time. This doesn’t mean just selling yourself and your skills; really work on learning from other people in the field. If you have an area of expertise and can give occasional freebie advice, someone in your network may keep you in mind if a position comes up that seems right for you.
While you’re networking, spend time boosting any skills you may be lacking, or learn the new technology favored in your field. Getting any kind of recommended certification is a great addition to your resume, and it will show employers that you are committed and that it won’t be left up to the employer to get you back up to speed.
Struggling to find that job after a couple of months? Consider volunteering, at a place such as a non-profit, in which you can both network and show off your skills in a professional environment. It may even open you up to a field you hadn’t been aware of previously.
As far as new fields go, take chances on positions outside your comfort zone. You may want to apply for (or volunteer for) and company that’s looking for “adjacent” skills to the ones you used in your former career. It’s not like switching from neuroscience to firefighting; but if you have, for instance, grant writing skills, you would be an ideal candidate for a wide variety of jobs.
If you’re a mom considering taking a break from your career to raise your kids but are afraid of losing your position in the workforce, you do have other options these days. Many creative thinkers find ways to step back from work without giving up their job completely. This may mean working from home, or working as a consultant on a project-by-project basis. Maybe take a part-time position with the company, sharing your salary with another employee in a similar situation.
At Moms Making Six Figures, we prioritize helping working moms to achieve their professional goals while supporting their families, building a community of empowered women. If you’re ready to join the community or would like more information, give us a call at (858) 837-1505 or visit our website at momsmakingsixfigures.com.