7 Tips for Moms Returning to the Workforce

Are you a stay-at-home planning a return to the workforce? Here are some tips to help you get there.

  1. Identify a Target. When someone says “what do you want to do?” never answer, “I don’t know”. Even if you are not sure, come up with some answer. It could be an industry, hobby or job of interest.
  2. Create a Well-Aligned Narrative. When we have an interest in something, we usually have some life experiences in that area. This experience may include coursework, volunteer experience or past work skills. Use those intersections to rewrite your narrative.
  3. Update your Collateral. Get your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, elevator pitch and interview answers aligned with your re-articulated narrative. Back to workIt should all speak the same language and tell a story. If you are having trouble elevating your narrative, ask a friend, resume writer or career coach/counselor to help you with this. It is often hard to do this for ourselves. Seek help.
  4. Create a Target Organization and People List. What organizations seem like a good fit for your interests? Who are the people you want to be in the future or have the job you desire now? Who amongst your friends or past colleagues knows a lot of people? Write them all down in a Target List.
  5. Get out of the House. When job hunting, very little happens at your computer. Yes, you want to find jobs of interest and use LinkedIn but your best strategy is to get out in the world to meet people, attend targeted events and generally let people know you are looking. It only takes one person to connect you to the right job but you won’t meet him or her if you are behind a computer screen all day.
  6. Find your aligned Market. If you are seeking flexible or part-time work look for organizations that support these kinds of work arrangement. Try www.Flexprofessionalsllc.com to find flexible work arrangements or talk to friends who work part-time or on a contract basis.
  7. Get support. Look for those who walked the path before you. Find another mom who returned to work. Ask her to coffee or for a phone conversation. What did she do? What could she have done better? What advice does she have to offer? Does she have any other returners that you should talk to about the process? No need to reinvent the wheel.

 

Whether you are just starting to think about a return to work or have considered this for some time, use these tips to get you moving forward. If you live in the DC area, consider taking the Re-Work program. To learn more, go to www.dallekcoaching.com/programs

B is for Balance or Bulls..t

I had the pleasure of spending the evening with some wonderful solopreneurs recently in my Her Corner (www.hercorner.org) group. Many of us DallekCoaching_BisforBalancein the group are moms and business owners.  An interesting theme was echoed about achieving balance in 2014 with a caveat of “I don’t believe in this balance stuff”. I could not agree more with this sentiment.  Balance belongs in the vault with body perfection and doing it all.

One problem is that our perception of balance got off track.  Let’s give a few examples.  If you ever strike a balance pose in yoga, most of us humans, sway back and forth.  If two kids get on a seesaw, one usually has to push off a bit harder to get the same motion.  Even when we balance out a scale, there is an adjustment of each side to make sure the amounts equal.  Have you ever seen a gymnast on the balance beam? Even the Olympians have to regain balance after a jump or they bend their knees to prevent a fall.

For a long time, many of us believed that balance was a perfect striking of equal parts.  The problem is that the parts never equal 100. What would it look like if I asked you to create a percentage of the time you’d like to spend on family, friends, work, self-care and life’s necessities (paying bill and doing dishes).  You’ve probably already realized that there would not be enough hours in the day to do all of your desired and required tasks.

Ergo, we need to shift each day, moment, week, month and year to honor the priority of the moment.  We could be wholly focused at work and get a call about a sick kid.  Then a snowstorm hits and shoveling the walk becomes our priority.  A family member falls ill and paying the bills may go down on your must do list.

If we can just strive to stay upright most of the time, then we’re doing a pretty darn good job.  Next time you try to “balance”, remember to adjust and leave the self-criticism behind.

Playing Twister

“I can’t make a decision”, she says.  “I’m stuck”, says another.  I hear, “I have too many choices” or “there are no choices out there”.

Have you ever played twister?  You put your elbow on red, foot on green and your hand on yellow.  As expected, you get twisted up like a pretzel.

Let’s say you can’t decide what next job or career to go after.  Alternatively, you are having trouble deciding how to brand yourself so that you can align to your next job.  Maybe, you can’t decide what to do to get to that next best job.

That is what the twister board of caDallekCoaching_Twister_Careersreer and job change looks like.  This is what stuck looks like.

Instead, let’s try a new version of twister. Put two feet firmly on red.  Now stop.  Don’t spin the wheel and don’t place any other appendages on the board.  Just stay on red.

Maybe red is your career pursuit in media. Possibly red is pursing a new business.  Red might be getting a new job or trying for a part-time position.  Red can be any one of the choices. Pick one and stay with it.  Maybe you stay with it for an hour, a day or a week.  You decide the length of time.

If red does not turn out to be the right color, you’ve eliminated a choice and next, you can try standing on green.

Up-Ramping

dreamstime_s_20477958There is a lot of talk in the media right now about women who “Off-Ramp” and “On-Ramp” their careers after having children. Why isn’t anyone talking about “Up-Ramping?”

“Off-Ramping” implies that a woman has left the workforce entirely. She is essentially off the career track. “On-Ramping” implies that she is driving back onto the highway full-speed ahead. There are no stop or yield signs along the way.

Yet, so many of my clients want a more gradual return while their kids are young.  This is what I call “Up-Ramping.” It looks more like a dipping a toe into the water rather than fully submerging oneself. And for those who find adjustment for their family to be the greatest hurdle to career reentry, the cadence of “Up-Ramping” can be customized to fit “just right.”

Ways To “Up-Ramp” Your Career:

  • Volunteer strategically in your field of interest and do work that will tie into your future job.  Volunteering can be a great way to keep your skill sets fresh, network and find out about paid job opportunities. Before you jump into every volunteer opportunity, ask yourself “Can this position me for the next job opportunity?” If that answer is yes, jump in. If the answer is no, find another option.
  • Find some contract work. You may have to contract in an area where you have previous expertise. Contracting can keep your resume and LinkedIn Profile fresh, give you an opportunity to build your confidence, refresh your skills and get back in the game. Contracting does not mean you have to start a website or land a big job. You can start with a friend who owns a business or a start-up who needs some extra hands on deck.
  • Look at the part-time job boards.  More and more organizations are seeing the value and necessity of a part-time workforce.  As such, there are many job boards that now advertise and support those types of jobs. Some examples are www.momcorps.com, http://www.mom-entum.com, http://www.flexforceprofessionals.com and http://parttimepros.com.

Whether you are diving back in, slowing wading or dipping your toe in, make sure to find the pace that works for you and then find the resources to support that pace.