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Tips for moms returning to work

John O’Connor, career coach with Career Pro Inc, in Raleigh offered this advice for moms looking to re-enter the work force.

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Tell your story in small bites

Personal setbacks, spouse layoffs, health or other personal problems should be only carefully brought up during any interview.

If you are re-entering the workforce, an employer's biggest concern should be your biggest concern: How will you account for your time you have not been working? Practice interview questions and make sure you deal head on with the underlying question that all employers are asking if you are looking for a job now: Why are you looking now?

The hard part of interviewing is answering authentically and specifically. This takes practice. Above all, be proud of what may be the most important and difficult job in the world – properly nurturing and raising children.

Coach and educate your references

Make sure your references have a copy of your resume, an idea of your job search gameplan and a clear indication of what you expect them to say to a potential employer.

Do not assume your references know what and what not to say about you and your potential value. Some references for people returning to work or returning to work moms can only speak about personal information. If you have been volunteering or doing job-related work or classes you need to coach and educate your references on this work.

Tune your social networks and amp up your Linkedin profile

If you are on Facebook, Twitter or other social networks, remember that some or much of that information will be Googled by a potential employer. Type your name into Google and find out what comes up.

If the image is not the one you want to project to potential employers, it is time for a tune-up.

Do not miss the opportunity to develop a robust Linkedin profile focused on your activities, professional background, ambition and professional presence. Linkedin is more of a professional network, whereas Facebook is primarily social. 

Develop an outstanding resume strategy

Many moms returning to work miss the opportunity to properly market themselves.

Have you volunteered, led a project at school, helped a friend or done unpaid but critical work? Then use this in your resume and develop it!

A properly written resume will focus on the positives of past work history but also develop details related to time that you have been "absent" from the traditional workforce: Part -time work, volunteer activities, recent education or training, special projects.

Be able to credibly respond to online, newspaper, magazine or referral-based leads with highly customized resumes and strategies.

Become a politician

Remember that you now will be expected to campaign and sell your skills to a potential employer who will probably have hundreds of people and resumes to consider. Understand that everything you do is under scrutiny. 

Update your wardrobe to reflect your personal style and refine your clothing choices.

Every e-mail you send inquiring about a job should be read, re-read and re-read.

Practice your phone call inquiries and carefully write any follow-up correspondence to potential employers.

Be well read and prepared for any interview.

Politicians get tripped up by bobbling seemingly simple questions. Make sure you have and are reading core material related to your field, can name books and, overall, portray an image of being very up-to-date and engaged in the conversation of your profession.

Ask for advice

How you ask for job search help matters. Be formal. Be polite. But ask. Ask for advice on networking, family-friendly companies, for leads and more.

Have a giving spirit and thank everyone who is willing to help you by following through with thank you letters, e-mails and more.

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