Biggest Obstacles Stay-At-Home Moms Face When Re-Entering the Workforce
When stay-at-home Moms begin job searching after for five, ten, or more years of being at home, they often find themselves lacking the confidence and sometimes the skills needed to land the type of job they'd like to have. I call this "The Gap".
We've spent the past 2 years interviewing hiring managers, recruiters and HR professionals to define this gap, and find out what areas stay-at home Moms most need to address in order to compete in today's job market.
The feedback has been remarkably consistent! Here's what they want to see:
1. The Resume
Time at home with family should not be reflected by a void on a resume. You've certainly done whole heck of a lot more than nothing!
Highlight your volunteer activities and identify all relevant, transferable skills you've learned and utilized.
For instance: If you served on a board, include your leadership and management skills! If you managed any projects, highlight the skills you used to get the job done! If you raised funds, this is selling / marketing experience! Most of the time, participation in groups includes process optimization, teambuilding, etc. Be sure to include any numbers that demonstrate the results you obtained.
Bottom line: Do not undervalue or "pass over" what you've been doing, even if you weren't getting paid for it. The hiring Managers are open to time out of the workforce, but they do want to see what you have been doing. Remember, the resume is designed to get you the interview. It is the interview that can get you the job- so make sure to keep the resume concise and easy to scan in 30-45 seconds.
2. Computer Skills
It's unanimous. Every single hiring manager we interviewed cited computer skills as a showstopper to gainful employment and critical to competing in today's job market. Even career and college classes require you to have computer capabilities now, including Microsoft PowerPoint, Word and some Excel.
Be careful not to underestimate how much there is to be learned! Some light internet and email use is not enough in the business world.
Not sure where to start? Take a benchmark test to see where you stand. Employment/ staffing agencies can provide these. They also provide "brush-up" tutorials. The Microsoft website has a library of tutorials, and most local adult Ed programs also offer courses to get you started.
Become comfortable with the basics and then research industry or job-specific requirements. You can use O*Net to look up careers and learn what industry-specific skills and software program knowledge are preferred.
Bottom line: You don't need to be an expert, but you do need to know your way around the computer and some basic software programs. So invest in yourself and remember that employers are open to offering some industry-specific training.
3. Professional image
Candidates who have been cleaning the house, driving carpools, and making lunches and dinners for years need to throw out the sweats and t-shirts and update their hair and wardrobe to reflect a new professional image!
Take this time to "re-invent" yourself, it can be fun! Go get fitted for a good bra. Update your hairstyle. (Make sure your hair color and makeup look natural!)
Buy a few interview suits that can be mixed/ matched later for less formal use, and have them tailored so they fit you well.
Remember to keep your accessories toned down because you want them to hear what you're saying, not what you're wearing. If this seems daunting, then get help from someone who knows how to dress for interviews and for life in your new chosen profession.
Bottom line: Your appearance is extremely important! It demonstrates your level of professionalism and commitment. It either says "executive", or not. Invest in your appearance and you'll feel great!
4. Interview Skills
Of course I could write volumes on this topic, and many people have! So I'll include some of the basics that hiring managers want to see:
- You've researched the Company: You know what properties of the company appeal to you and why you want to work for them. Demonstrate that you have some understanding of their industry. Research the competition too. What are the industry hot buttons? Where is this company going? What is their culture?
- You've made an effort to learn some of the industry-specific language: Every industry has is "language". Read up to at least understand standard phrases and terms.
- Be Real! Remember that the person on the other side of the desk would LOVE nothing more than for you to be "the one" so that they can move on to their next task! Seeming nervous or "manufactured" just makes it difficult for them to figure out whether or not you're a good fit for the job in question.
So, be yourself. If it's not a good fit, then simply move on and remember that it's not personal. Also remember that you are interviewing them as well, to make sure that their work environment is one that you'll be happy and able to thrive in.
Bottom line: Interviewing takes practice. Get out there and learn! Make every interview an interesting conversation, not an interrogation. Take every interview opportunity you can. If you're open, you're bound to learn something from each interview experience!
The best interview prep tool I've found is a killer value at $50, a 2 CD set called "Interview Mastery".
This is not something you can buy or obtain easily. It comes from a process of introspection, clarity of who you are now in your life, what your needs are, and where you want to go- and it takes time and work to develop! So, be patient with yourself.
Potential employers do want to see that you believe in the value you can bring to their organization and to the job you're interviewing for.
Practice articulating your value and goals: Women in particular often need improvement when it comes to talking about themselves and their skills. Learn to effectively market your skills to your chosen profession. Practice!
Be clear on what type of work culture is best for you. Remember, it's not about getting any job; it's about getting the right job in an environment where you'll be successful and happy.
Remember that most companies know that stay-at-home Moms may be lacking in some areas, however there are other areas where they will outshine their counterparts. While raising children parents quickly mature. They learn professionalism, commitment, patience and organizational skills. They also learn to multi-task and keep cool during highly emotional situations.
Bottom line: Every individual has special talents and strengths. You are valuable! If you package yourself properly, and focus on finding the "right fit", you will find success!
Linda Waters is a wife, mother, career coach, and the founder of Back to Business LLC. Back to Business, located in Franklin, Massachusetts, provides a full range of services for women preparing to return to work or seeking a better professional "fit" and more fulfilling career. For more information on Linda email at email@example.com.
Back to Business will be hosting a Women's Workshop event at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA on September 18th and MomCorps will be there! For more detail go to www.backtobusiness.org.
Linda Waters is a business/career coach and the president of Back to Business, a company focused on helping people achieve successful career transitions and women who want to return to the workforce. She lives in Franklin with her husband and two children.
For more information on how you can get Back to Business, check out www.backtobusiness.org or call 508-520-4100. Copyright © 2008 Back to Business All Rights Reserved