When you decided to become a stay at home parent, did you give thought to how you would get back into the workforce? It’s an important consideration for most families. Difficulty in returning to the workforce has always been one of the risks of staying home with the kids. You can’t overlook the challenge when it’s time to get back in the workforce.
Most stay at home parents will eventually return to the workforce. Few parents want to stay home once the kids are in school. Part time, if not full time, employment becomes more appealing at that point, and even more so as the kids grow up. But with months, years, or even more than a decade out of work, how do you get back in the workforce?
How Bad Are The Stats?
I came across a study in the Harvard Business Review that shows just how difficult it can be for stay at home parents to get back into the workforce. The study author, Kate Weisshaar, sent out 3,374 fictitious resumes to real job openings. These represented “three types of job applicants: currently employed applicants with no employment gaps, unemployed applicants, and stay-at-home parent applicants.” The study looked at which groups of resumes received callbacks for interviews or more information.
If you’re a stay at home parent trying to get back in the workplace, the numbers aren’t terribly encouraging. “Stay-at-home parents were about half as likely to get a callback as unemployed parents and only one-third as likely as employed parents.”
The study found that stay at home parents were perceived to be less capable, less reliable, less deserving of a job, and less committed to work. These are the obstacles you’re facing when you decide it’s time to head back to work. What can you do to improve your chances of finding a job after being a stay at home parent?
Keep Up Your Skills
Keeping up your professional skills is especially important if you’re out of the workforce for more than a few months. Some industries change rapidly. If you don’t put in the effort to keep up, it will be much more difficult to resume your career.
You can take courses online or at a local college. Many schools now have online programs available, even if you’re after a new degree.
You can also improve your education and target a new career if you like using these resources. A break in employment is an excellent time to consider a career change.
Networking professionally can be difficult for many stay at home parents. You will be at a very different point in your life than your friends and coworkers who still work outside the home. It will be more difficult to get to industry events and networking events as well.
But professional networking is one of the most important things you can do. One of these connections might be the one that alerts you to a job opening when you’re ready for one.
LinkedIn is a very popular choice to network professionally from home these days. You can start with friends and old coworkers, and increase your contacts with people who work for interesting companies. There are also groups you can join to meet people in similar industries.
Get A Work At Home Job
I’m a huge fan of working at home. My income saved my family financially when my husband was laid off from his job. Without that money coming in, that would have been an even bigger problem than it was.
If you can find a work at home job in your industry, even a part time one, you show that you’re committed to your career and capable of doing the work. You may be able to turn it into a full time job when you’re ready.
Best of all, you aren’t out of work at all. You don’t have the gap that other stay at home parents do when they decide to return to work.
Take some time to prepare your resume for a work at home job hunt. When you want to work at home, you need to show more than just the skills for the job. You must demonstrate that you can work unsupervised. Remote work has some challenges that are very different from working in an office. Depending on their ages, the children alone can make working from home all but impossible without outside help. Be realistic about your needs.
Start A Home Business
Starting a home business is risky, but it can work. Most businesses of any sort fail, but there are many success stories of moms and dads who started a business in their home while raising their kids and turned it into a full time business.
Be picky about your home business, and learn the risks before you start anything. Don’t listen only to the hype from someone trying to recruit you into an opportunity.
Blogging is a popular choice, and it’s easy to start a blog. The hard part is bringing it to a level where it earns enough money. Some people have amazing success with blogs. Others find that theirs never brings in more than a small amount. Blogs are so cheap to run, however, that I consider them worth the risk.
Finding the time to run your home business can be as difficult or even more difficult than finding time for a work at home job. It’s rough when all the accountability is on you. If you don’t work hard, your home business will not bring in the income you need or provide the work experience to show for a future job.
It is a true delight when a home business works out so well that you don’t need to get a job outside the home later. You will still have ups and downs – that’s business for you – but the ability to keep working from home even as the kids get older is a true delight.
Volunteering is another way to keep using your professional skills as a stay at home parent. Look around and find a cause you believe in that can also use your professional skills.
Not everything you can do as a volunteer will do much for your resume. Do your best to find something relevant to what you want to do in your career. I volunteer at a local shelter, helping to socialize the cats and doing assorted chores around the place, but that wouldn’t do much for my resume if I were to write one up. The only thing it would show is a willingness to volunteer and the ability to work with animals. For the careers I would consider, that’s not terribly relevant.
Will These Things Make It Easier To Get Back In The Workforce?
There’s no guarantee that any of these will make it easier to get back in the workforce after you’ve been a stay at home parent. The benefits you gain depend on the kind of work you’re looking for when you no longer want to be a stay at home parent. Lower paying jobs with simpler requirements may be easier to get into than jobs that have higher requirements.
The point of doing all these things is to have something to put on your resume to minimize the gap caused by being a stay at home parent. You can show that you are capable of the work you want to do, and committed to a good career.
Of course, if you have a work at home job or a successful home business, you may not need to find an outside the home job as the kids get older. You might have already found what you want to do to earn money.