The vast majority of parents who take time off to raise children would ultimately like to return to the workplace. This is particularly true for stay-at-home parents that are divorcing who find themselves thrust into finding employment to financially support their family.
Returning to Work After a Divorce
Although there are more dads staying home with the children these days, more typically the mom will put her career on hold to raise the kids during the marriage and, when things go south, she is the one looking for a job.
Fortunately, research shows that many qualified women are able to return to the workforce when they want to or need to. However, studies reveal of the 73% of women who returned to the workforce, only 40% landed regular full time work.
One of the biggest challenges professionals face when trying to make a career shift is perception. Hiring managers looking at candidates who have been out of the workforce may be concerned about how current your skills are and where your priorities lie when it comes to the work/family balance.
To overcome the hurdle, those who have been immersed in raising a family will want to show that they have kept up with changes in the industry, have valuable skills despite being out to the workforce, and actively use the technologies available to people in the workforce today.
Benefit From Current Technologies
To rev it up, a good place to start is by establishing a presence on professional social media platforms such as Linkedin or Twitter, which will enable you to keep up with industry trends, network with other professionals in your field, and develop your personal brand. Take the networking a step further, by reconnecting with former colleagues who may be able to point you in the direction of a job opening in your area of interest.
Reposition Your Perceived “Weakness” as a Strength
When composing cover letters or in interviews, share experiences you have had outside of the workforce that showcase your leadership abilities, drive and unique talents. It may be that you organized fundraisers for your child’s school or provided tutoring for struggling students. The challenges you took on while on the parenting track can speak volumes about your leadership potential, project management skills, marketing acumen and your ability to work well with others.
Overcoming Perception Hurdles
Hiring managers are taxed with finding the right people for the job so they want to make sure your interest is sincere and that you are able to make the commitment, especially if kids have been your primary focus. He or she might be silently wondering if you “really want the job” or they may have concerns about “whether you are juggling childcare issues and the like”. Assuage your hiring manager’s concerns by conveying your enthusiasm to return to the workforce and your desire to make a meaningful contribution. Perhaps a side note regarding your availability to reenter because the ‘kids are off to school’ or they have ‘a full time caregiver’ will clarify your availability and commitment to performing the job.
The fact that you put your career aside to stay home with your children may meet with some resistance when you try to reenter the workforce. However, demonstrating that your skills are current and that your experiences outside of the workforce are actually assets will help you to combat negative assumptions and re-enter professional life on your own terms.