College graduates aren’t the only ones nervous about building résumés and interviewing for jobs. Military and civilian stay at home parents removed from the workforce for years can struggle to return to a changed landscape.
But confidence and careful preparation can help ease the transition.
When it comes to getting a job, the value of confidence can’t be understated. Take a step back and decide what you aren’t confident about. Re-entering the workforce can certainly seem overwhelming.
Many people are worried their skills have gotten rusty during their employment hiatus. If you’re feeling unsure about your skills, consider a skill-building class or two in your community, read about new programs online or ask a tech-savvy friend for some help getting reacquainted.
If it’s the set 9 to 5 schedule that concerns you, consider looking for a part-time or temporary job to start the transition. Temp agencies can be great for more flexible and short-term employment and also offer a chance to build some experience and skills for your résumé.
Many interviewees are nervous when it comes to talking about salary. Discussing money can be dicey because you want to sound confident without being demanding. Don’t walk in expecting to take a big pay cut or to make significantly more than you have in the past. Just understand that you have valuable skills and that you should be paid current market value for them.
Building your résumé after years away from work can be confusing and difficult. It’s natural to worry about how the gap in employment will look.
You may want to include skills you use as a “family manager.” Consider your time organizing everything for your family as an unpaid internship. Whether you were organizing schedules or budgeting household expenses, these skills are easily transferable to the workplace.
When looking for ways to fill the employment gap, think about all of the experiences and activities you’ve done as a parent. Use volunteer experience, especially if you had a leadership role, to show that you utilize valuable skills even when you aren’t getting paid.
Another important tip is to tweak your résumé every time you send it out. Look at the job posting and switch up your résumé to include or highlight the skills you believe the company is looking for. Personalizing your résumé can give you a competitive edge as opposed to sending out stagnant information.
Dress the part to help ensure you have the best interview possible. Tuxedos and ball gowns aren’t necessary, but dress in proper business attire and always carry yourself in a professional manner. Arrive early, sit up straight and show the company they would be lucky to hire you.
Another consideration is how family friendly the company will be. Smaller companies tend to be more flexible with parents, especially military spouses, who have a number of additional responsibilities. Working Mother Magazine publishes a list of the 100 best companies for working moms and its list is a good place to start. Don’t be afraid to ask how flexible your schedule will be and about any programs available for working parents.
Overall the best advice for a stay-at-home parent looking to re-enter the workforce is to be confident in your abilities and know that even after a break you have valuable skills.