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Moms Re-enter the Workforce After Time Off

Getting back to work:

9 Tips for full-time moms re-entering the workforce and others who take time off

By Kristina Cowan

Full-time moms have noble jobs: they're skilled protectors, counselors and comforters. Many moms also acquire skills that could prove valuable in the workplace, career experts say, but often go overlooked. Experts say moms re-entering the workforce should underscore such skills, which may include managing household budgets, serving in leadership positions in community and/or school groups, and multi-tasking.

If you're a mom re-entering the workforce, heed that advice and the following tips from Bonnie D. Monych, president of The New Workplace Inc., in Houston, and Allison O'Kelly, CEO of Mom Corps, an Atlanta-based staffing firm.

  1. Mind your psyche-it needs to be right. Be clear before you begin and ask yourself, "Why am I doing this [re-entering the workforce]? What do I need in terms of flexibility and compensation? What will I do and what won't I do?" Monych said.
  2. Be realistic. "If you can only work 30 hours a week, don't go to a company that doesn't have flexible opportunities. Maybe you'll have to look at different, more flexible companies," O'Kelly said.
  3. Get up to speed on what's happening in your field and polish your skills. Educate yourself about the news, trends and regulations affecting your industry. For example, an accountant could get familiar with Sarbanes-Oxley regulations, while a graphic artist might learn the most current software programs. O'Kelly said employers can grow disinterested if you're not current with industry regulations or required skill-sets.
  4. Re-enter the network world. Get yourself back out there doing networking, attending professional association meetings and talking to people.
  5. Practice interviewing. Ask friends to help you with practice questions and role-playing.
  6. Update your resume. Use a functional resume, not a chronological resume; this way, you're not emphasizing how long you've been away, you're emphasizing your skill-sets, according to Monych.
  7. Don't apologize for taking time off to be with your children. Give it the emphasis it needs and don't underplay it. You should be proud of it and stress the skills that make you the right person for the position. Apologizing can make you an unattractive job candidate; it’s not the way for a mom to re-enter the workforce.
  8. Consider contracting. Instead of re-entering the workforce as a full-time employee, working on contract is an effective way to prove your skills and abilities and show you can get a job done, according to O'Kelly. It also goes on your resume as recent experience and could lead to permanent work.
  9. Go shopping. "Don't pull a suit out of your closet you wore six years earlier. You want to make sure you present yourself as a current professional," O'Kelly said. Re-enter the shopping world.

Kristina Cowan is the senior writer for PayScale.com. She has over 10 years of journalism experience, specializing in education and workforce issues. Email Kristina Cowan.

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