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Look ahead, stay-at-home moms

Mala Ashok, Dec 8, 2012

PLAN WELL

Career counselors suggest that a year before heading back to work, women should get involved in a professional association, take some courses, or volunteer in the field they are going to enter

“I’m just staying at home for a few years — after both the kids are in school I’m going back to work.”  Have you said these words or heard your good friends say them?  They could well qualify as ‘famous last words.’

After a few years at home, it’s not easy to get back into the work force particularly in this fast changing world.  With technology advancing by leaps and bounds, if/when you go back to work you might feel lost.

To stack the odds in your favour, you may have to spend some time on your career when you are staying-at-home and keep your resume up-to-date. You may have decided to spend some time at home with your child(ren); however, it’s a good idea to invest some time in your work.  This will ensure that when it’s time to look for a job you’re not starting at zero.

A friend enrolled in an MBA course at IGNOU and when her daughter was ready for pre-school she not only had an extra qualification but also had an explanation for the “gap” in her work history.

Sane advice

Career counselors suggest that a year before heading back to work, think about getting involved in a professional association, taking some courses, or volunteering in the field you’re going to enter. Make sure dad is on board and starts pitching in with child care in these early days.  These steps will see that you build a network of contacts and more importantly develop your confidence.  This is very important so that you will have an edge when you start your job search.

If you are working in a rapidly evolving field it is important to stay abreast with the changes and if possible take a refresher course so that you have the credentials to backup your claims of competence. Be sure to include this information in your cover letter or the Professional Development section of your resume.

Traditionally, resumes have tended to be chronological or reverse chronological.  This makes the gaps in your career obvious.  There are two ways of tackling this ‘problem.’  You can stick to the chronological and mention that you had taken some time off for parenting.  Make sure to highlight any job related activities you were involved in.  The other way is to prepare a functional resume where your skills are front and centre.
This type of résumé focuses on your skills rather than emphasising your years of work.  This type of résumé is particularly useful if you want a job that is less demanding than your pre-maternity job.  Remember skills are transferable and you need not be pigeonholed into a certain slot based on prior experience.

Whatever your goal is for returning to work after maternity, it pays to work at the job hunt before you are actually out there in the job market; and in any case your main job of mother is still one of the best in the world!


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