5 On Your Side

Moms looking for work can leverage stay-at-home skills

The majority of the people being laid off in the recession are men – 82 percent, according to a study by the New York Times. With dad out of work, many full-time moms are considering a return to the work force.

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The majority of people being laid off in this recession are men – 82 percent, according to a study by the New York Times. With dad out of work, many full-time moms are considering a return to the work force.

John O’Connor, a career coach for 18 years with ABI Career Pro Inc. in Raleigh, helps his clients translate skills learned running a household into resume material.

"I've had a lot of clients go, ‘Well, I did this ... that doesn't really count.’ I like to emphasize – it does count," he said.

“As a mom, I think you're a part-time emergency room technician, you're a counselor, you're a psychologist, psychiatrist,” he said, “There's a lot of value in being a mom.”

Kim Walker handled the marketing for her husband’s family business, Peak Automotive in Apex. When high gas prices and construction near their location forced them to close, Walker turned to Wake County schools, where she is a counselor. Recently, she found out her contract will not be renewed, so she is job hunting again.

"I don't look at it as, ‘Oh! What am I going to do now? It's horrible!’ It's pretty exciting to be able to know that I'm going to go somewhere and I know that have skills," she said.

Walker said her time playing with 6-year-old Payton has taught her plenty.

“Being a mom, I think it prepares you more for the work force. You have to tackle challenges daily and simultaneously. It helps you become a manager. You have to manage your child, you have to manage T-ball, all of these different things and then you're a multi-tasker," she pointed out.

O’Connor advises moms to learn to market themselves and tailor their skills to each potential employer.

“They don't know their value sometimes,” he said. “They've done special projects. They've done volunteer work. They're up on current events and they've had to deal with problems and issues with their kids.”

Walker volunteers for a cancer group. That's community outreach and fundraising skills, O’Connor said.

He tells women to take their job search seriously and project a professional attitude.

“Employers want to know: Can you drive revenue or reduce costs? Can you solve our problems? Can you do this job, or are you going to be … off with your kids and running around for doctors’ appointments?”

He helped Walker develop different resumes for different job opportunities. If she is looking for education job, they play up her teaching experience. O’Connor suggests she mention her degrees and work with kids to those prospective employers.

Moms re-entering the work force can take advantage of low-cost or free ways to freshen up their technical skills with classes online, at a local library, community college or women's center.

“You almost have to have an internship mentality,” O’Connor said. “If you don’t have the experience, why not ask and go get that experience? … Say to a potential employer, ‘I did this for free, but that's where I was able to update my technical and other skills.’”

O’Connor suggests that job seekers build a personal brand online as well. With a profile on a network like LinkedIn, employers can see your picture, resume and references. Many sites cater specifically to moms in the job market. Check out momcorps.com, youronramp.com and jobsandmoms.com, founded by Nancy Collamer, a UNC grad.