Three Tips for Stay at Home Parents Returning to the Workplace

Societal trends have certainly changed over the decades.  These days it’s less likely than ever before for children to be in a two-parent household where one parent elects to remain home while the other is employed.

What if you’re the parent who stayed home to raise the kids?  Whether you’d had a career beforehand or not, the fact you’ve not worked in corporate America for an extended period of time creates a challenge for when you do decide to seek employment.

Today I’ll offer a few tips and some observations for addressing that challenge.

#1.  Let’s start with understanding what you’d like to do for work.  If you’d been employed in a role you enjoyed, then that’s a logical place to start.  Keep in mind, though, that you likely won’t go back in at the same job level where you’d left off.

If you hadn’t worked outside the home much, if at all, then seek out friends and acquaintances for informational interviewing.  Ask them about the sort of work they do, the pros and cons of their job, any educational or training hurdles you’d encounter if you pursued that work, etc.  This should give you a sense of what’s out there that might not only pique your interest, but would also be realistic.  Maybe consider taking assessments to determine your interests and aptitudes.

#2.  Your resume.  I could write an entire article on just this piece.  Suffice to say a standard chronological resume probably isn’t your best bet.  Consider a functional resume where you can show examples of your transferrable skills/functions.

For example, leadership.  Maybe you were a leader in various school, church or community organizations.  How about marketing or sales?  Maybe you generated fliers or other promotional materials.  Did you help with selling items during fundraisers?

Other transferable skills could include project management or administrative.  Were you responsible for record keeping at home or in your volunteer efforts?  Were you involved on building projects or other projects involving multiple people?

#3.  The interview.  How do you demonstrate value when you’ve been out of the workforce for many years?

Keep in mind, employers look for a combination of competency and culture fit.  Can you do good work and are you likely to ‘fit in?’

The easiest deal breaker is if you haven’t kept up with whatever technology is necessary to perform your work.  So let’s assume you’ve taken a course or two to ensure those skills are at least passable.  That demonstrates initiative.

Show how tasks you performed at home or during volunteerism require similar skills to those expected of you in the workplace.  The fact you weren’t paid for your work doesn’t mean you weren’t good at whatever you tackled.  Show enthusiasm and a desire to learn and grow.

Be prepared to talk about accomplishments.  Did your fundraising exceed goals?  Were you able to successfully work through problems, whether at home or during volunteerism?

Re-entering the workforce can certainly present some challenges.  Hopefully I’ve given you a few action items you can work on to help you make that transition.  Good luck!