Stay at Home Mum’s: Are You Ready for a New Challenge?

mom-teen-daughter-laptopThere comes a time for any stay-at-home mum to decide whether or not to return to work. For many this time comes after the children have started school, but by then the idea of returning to an “adult” world can seem daunting. If all you’ve known for the last 5+ years is kids, how do you know you’ll survive back in the workforce?

You could also find yourself worrying how the household will continue to run without your constant presence. The important thing to remember when considering a new challenge is to talk to your family. Returning to work affects everyone in the house, not just you. Explain that you’ll need help in the household and assign new responsibilities early. This will help with the transition time once you’re back in the office. You can also speak to friends about carpooling and getting help for scheduled activities that may lie within work hours. And once you are working, schedule a monthly meeting to ensure things run smoothly and that everyone is handling the change well.

Your first step in returning to work is to analyse your decision. Consider things such as:

  1. How hungry are you for a career?
  2. How many hours would you like to work?
  3. What working hours would suit?
  4. How much will child care cost?
  5. How much support do you have from friends and family?
  6. Are you returning to work for financial reasons or are you after a new and exciting challenge?
  7. Has your appetite for certain tasks changed? For example, you may once have enjoyed sitting behind a desk, but now you feel you would like to deal with people more face-to-face.
  8. Do you have faith in your abilities?
  9. What courses will you need to complete to update your skills?

Returning to your job

If you’re lucky enough to have a job waiting for you, you will need to check to see if any changes have happened while you were away from the position. To ensure you are up-to-date with procedures:

  1. Speak with your old colleagues about any changes in the office.
  2. Read forums, blogs and industry news.
  3. Consider a continued education course to refresh your skills.
  4. Attend a workshop to improve workplace communication and interpersonal skills.
  5. Get certified in the latest technology.

Applying for a new job

Applying for a new job presents a new set of challenges that should be considered before filling out any application forms. You will need to:

Have confidence It’s important to feel confident in your decision to stay at home and not feel embarrassed by it when applying for new jobs. Just don’t rub it in your interviewer’s face that you got to stay at home and watch your kids grow, as they may not have been able to do the same.

Being a stay-at-home-mum is a demanding time and most employers recognise full-time mum duties as vital life skills. When creating your resume, be sure to include all your “mum duties”, such as handling the family budget and organising the P&C cupcake stall. Describe volunteer positions in business terms, indicating your results and what you did to achieve them.

Refresh your skills Whether applying for jobs in your old field or trying something completely new, it’s essential that your skills are up-to-date. In the last decade, technology has developed faster than ever before and by keeping on top of it you are far more likely to secure yourself your dream job. Talk to people within the industry you are hoping to join and brush up on any computer programs that may be used.

Network You will need to network and reach out to family and friends who may be able to put a good word in for you. Old co-workers can be valuable assets and can put you in touch with some of their contacts. Keep an eye out for networking events, such as your local Chamber of Commerce, and express interest to anyone you meet that you are looking to return to the workforce. Practice a brief elevator pitch of around 30 seconds and use it to tell people at your son’s football match what kind of job you are looking for and what experience you have. Finish by asking if they know someone you could talk to but refrain from directly asking for a job.

Be flexible It’s unrealistic to think that you will straight away land a position just as high as you were pre-children, and there may not always be full time work available. Be open to part-time work, but also consider volunteer positions or an internship. These could be the foot in the door you’re after, and can help you build on your skills and experience.

Also consider taking the elements you most enjoyed from your last job and applying them to something else. If the things you loved about being an investment banker were working with numbers and financial models, consider other careers that may require these skills.

Create a LinkedIn account Networking is easy with LinkedIn and it provides a professional profile for yourself. Be sure to add a professional photo, build a solid network of contacts, join relevant groups and gather recommendations and endorsements from former colleagues.

Treat yourself to some new interview clothes New clothes leave you feeling great and when you feel great, you ooze confidence. First impressions count, so make sure you make an impact straight away.

Have child care lined up for interviewsWhen it comes time for the interview stages, make sure you have child care lined up. The last thing you want is to be late or have to cancel your appointment because you get stuck at home with the kids.

Refresh your resume Look at the latest trends and refresh your resume to ensure it highlights your best skills and is fresh and presentable.

Create a website A website that links to your resume can be inexpensive, and shows that you are current and exciting.

Nurture your career flame Instead of letting your career flame fizzle out during your break, keep it alight by staying in touch with colleagues, keeping up-to-date with industry news and contracting a few hours here and there from home.

If you’re looking to re-educate yourself in current practices before re-entering the workforce, why not check out the courses available from ICI? We will provide you with all the skills needed in your chosen field.

Online, career focused education that suits your lifestyle.

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Gladys Mae


Gladys Mae serves as the General Manager and Head of Student Services at the International Career Institute. Gladys holds a degree in Mass Communication - Broadcast Media from the University of San Jose-Recoletos. She joined ICI in 2010 and has over the past 12 years been instrumental in providing leadership and guidance to staff and students alike. Prior to joining ICI Gladys led a multifaceted career with key roles in the banking and business process outsourcing industries.