Good news for return-to-work moms: life did not end while we were busy nursing and driving carpool.
There is hope for Round Two in the work force for return-to-work moms, and know this: we are not a cliché; we're a commodity. Return-to-work moms matter: we're smart, driven, the original multi-tasker, and in these tight times, economically quite attractive.
Not only do we matter, but we're employable. It may take some convincing that the past 5 or 10 years were not wasted on sippy cups, carseats, playgroups, and training bras, but if you're relentless and resourceful and have a bit of a big mouth, it can happen. I'm here to prove it.
Here's what you need to do to reenter the workforce:
- Apply to every flippin' job you find. If the ad by any measure offers a potentially income generating possibility, apply. And don't expect a response. Ever. Hit Craigslist, and every online job generator in your geographical location. Apply again and again and write a cover letter/note each and every time. Someone will eventually bite. You will not get a response from 99% of the ads you apply to, but those you do get -- I'm talking about the rejections -- are potential future contacts. Save them, and write them again to see how their hire is working out.
- Adjust your resume for each job you apply to. They want a classroom aide? Crow about your years as room mother, scout leader, playground supervisor. Get references from friends and colleagues that have seen you at your best. They want a chef? Create a completely different resume with your culinary and service staff skills highlighted. They want a writer? Every comment on every blog, forum, discussion; every PTO newsletter, letter to the editor, and petition drive counts. Get references applicable to each. But for goodness sakes, send the right resume and reference to the right job.
- Tell everyone you know you're looking for work. Long before Facebook and LinkedIn, women have networked support groups. People know people, and word gets out. It's what we women have done forever, and when job hunting, networking takes precedence over everything else.
- Whatever the job is, you can do it. Perhaps the hardest lesson is to lie. When prospective employers asked if you have certain skill set, if you have even remotedly heard of it, lie. "Why, I'm a bit rusty, but yes I do." Then google and yahoo every freebie forum to learn the basics. Or asked one of your kids to teach you. It will get your foot in the door so you can win them over with your tried and true skills.
This was a long time coming. I've been on and off this work ramp several times since committing to returning to work part-time in 2007. This past December, I, like millions of others, had no work. Nothing.
But come January, I got a response to a job query. A small, cheap, like ridiculously cheap, part-time 20 hours/week gig, quickly shrunk to 7 billable hours. So I got another part-time job to make up for the hours, this one even more pathetically low paying. But alas, freelance work picked up . . . a bit . . . then a bit more. I've held onto the cheapo jobs because they are small and consistent, provide great references and more importantly, fine people willing to teach me new skills along the way.
So I'm not sure where I'm going career wise, but I'm certainly on my way. Baby steps. Simple baby steps in this rough and tumble economy, but progress nevertheless.