You’ve probably read or heard advice about returning to work, including resume tips, dress tips and interviewing guidelines. As someone who left the traditional workforce to raise a child and pursue a personal dream of creating a business for others like me, ALUMRISE — I found that much of the advice, while practical and helpful, didn’t completely meet the mark.
The advice often assumed certain things about me and others like me: We are completely confident about our decision to return to the workforce. Now we just need to find a "job."
The portrait of the mother I often speak to via my role at ALUMRISE needs to find meaningful work to fit her life stage, but is continually re-evaluating. Some days, she’s ready to conquer the world. Others, she’s dealing with a sick child and an upside down house, and a job hunt is the furthest item from her mind. The concept of a "job" is a difficult one for many moms. They are looking for meaningful work and residual income. But traditional jobs can often be a square peg in a round hole for the at-home mother.
1.) Turn this potential drawback of daily indecision or re-evaluation into an opportunity. Find job sites or solutions that showcase a variety of both permanent and flexible opportunities and ad-hoc opportunities like completing tasks or doing short term projects.
2.) Don’t wait for the perfect job -- seek opportunities that fit your day, week, or month. And do it now! Often, these can turn into the perfect long term position.
3.) If you find you struggle with balance, look for flexible positions, even if you trade off some pay or promotion opportunity.
4.) And do look at the type of work that suits your new situation -- for example, working with a start up, or a small business, or in retail. A traditional corporate position could be financially rewarding but create personal stress in scheduling and workload, so be honest with your own limitations before starting a search.
We are self confident and able to articulate our skills. We are thick skinned at parties and in social gatherings when eyes glaze over as we describe our former work and current job needs.
What I’ve observed is that even the most self-confident mothers experience mood swings, self-recrimination and doubt, when they consider a return to the workforce. They react to the lack of interest or reinforcement and support from others, and take it to heart. Many retract and decide “work is not for them,” even though they are smart, intelligent, and strong contributors. It’s a self defense mechanism. So even while paying lip service to a job hunt, such a mother may be damaging her own chances by giving mixed messages about the consistency and belief in her own abilities to succeed in a job or a part time position.