For many moms, back-to-school time means back-to-(paying)-work time for them. After leaving the workforce to care for babies and young children, many moms plan to re-enter the working world once their children start getting a little older.
But, many of them get stuck at the very beginning - wondering who will look at a resume with a years-long gap and worrying that their old network of colleagues is next to nonexistent.
But Katie Dunn, founder of the Back to Business Women's Conference, says women should shed those worries. It's possible to return to the workforce after a hiatus. In fact, she did it. And she's helped dozens of other women do it through her conference and online resources.
I featured Dunn, a Cary mom of four, two years ago when she was putting together her first conference. The third annual conference is Oct. 27 in Research Triangle Park. Registration is open now. I highly recommend the conference, which I attended two years ago. It is full of great information and is a fantastic way to start rebuilding that network.
"Looking for a job is your job now," Dunn tells me. "Schedule time to do this work and stick to the schedule."
Here are the 10 tips Dunn shared for moms ready to return to their career:
Spend some time up front thinking about what you want to do. You don’t have to narrow it down to one option – recognize that there are multiple possibilities that could work for you and be flexible enough to change course as you learn more about yourself and the job market throughout your job search. My favorite book on this subject: Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.
Invest in yourself. A few things worth spending money on as you restart your career are a killer resume, a professional LinkedIn photo, a course to update your skills, and a professional outfit and shoes for interviews.
Set goals for yourself and write them down. Make three phone calls a day, schedule two informational interviews each week, find three interesting new companies per day. Reward yourself with a healthy treat for meeting your goals.
Realize that this can take longer than you’d like. Persevere. Learn from your mistakes – because you will make some. Pick yourself up and keep going, even when it gets frustrating.
Set up informational interviews. You will learn a lot and grow your network by doing informational interviews. (And you thought these were just for kids!) Buying someone a cup of coffee and learning from them is a highly productive way to spend job-searching time.
Have a supportive network as you transition back to the paid workforce. Looking for a job is hard work and it can be frustrating. You will need a tribe to help you get through it. Plan to meet regularly with them – coffee every Friday morning, for example. Keep each other accountable and encourage each other.
Get out from behind your computer! You will not find a job from the comfort of your home – this I promise you. You must get out and talk to people if you want a job. This can be uncomfortable at first, but it gets easier and you may even enjoy it as you get better at it.
Your job will come from your network, not from a job posting you saw on the internet. Start building your network today and you will reap the benefits of being a connected person for the rest of your career.
Networking is all about building relationships with people – it is a give and take.You may not realize it, but you’ve been networking your whole life and you already know how to do it. Be interesting and interested in other people and always ask what you can do for them.
Don’t let the “what if’s” keep you from pursuing a job you want. When Mom returns to work, the entire family has to adjust – and they will. “What if I can’t pick up at school every day?” and “What if I can’t make dinner every night?” are valid concerns, but don’t hold back on getting a job you’d like because there’s a chance that others in your house will be inconvenienced. You can outsource almost anything and planning ahead will solve a lot of these dilemmas.
Back to Business holds meet-ups, workshops and an annual conference to help women returning to work through their job search.