Parent hugging toddler at beachLately, I’ve been working with several parents (not just moms!) who are returning to the workforce after a hiatus spent on caring for children.

Many, understandably, worry about how the gap in their employment may be perceived, and one of the first topics they raise is how to speak to that gap, both in writing and in person. A few reassurances:

  • Taking time to care for children (or other family members – often, I hear about ailing parents and devoting time intentionally to caring for them) is valid and reasonable. You don’t need to apologize or hide what you’ve been doing, no matter how long you’ve been outside the realm of paid employment.
  • Sometimes, it’s helpful to build a specific section into your resume that highlights what you were doing while you stepped out of the paid workforce, especially if some of the skills that you used are relevant to work that you’re seeking. On the other hand, you might simply create a very brief one-liner in your resume or LinkedIn profile that specifies that you were a stay-at-home parent or caregiver. Your target will direct you when you get to this question.
  • How you think and feel about your employment hiatus directly impacts how you speak to it, so it’s helpful to rehearse and be intentional about your description so that you don’t inadvertently come across as defensive, overly apologetic, or unfocused.
  • If you’ve had some volunteer roles during your employment gap, it can be useful to include that content on your resume, and if you’re struggling to find work-related examples to use in an interview, it may be useful to pursue volunteer work, professional development coursework, or other training to add depth to your resume and interview responses.

When clients tell me that they’re worried that they can’t compete in today’s job market, I look to see what’s at the root of their concerns. If it’s self-confidence, that’s something we can address in our sessions by looking at their self-talk and underlying patterns. If their skills are outdated, on the other hand, there are many possible avenues for them to pursue as they address this issue, including:

  • Professional Development Coursework: A few sites that could be helpful here include:
    • Lynda: monthly fee provides unlimited access to courses in business, web development, design, software development, free trial period offered (before you subscribe to this service, check your local library to see if it offers a free subscription with your library card)
    • Udacity: nanodegree programs and courses in many cutting-edge topics
    • Skillshare: free trial period followed by annual or monthly fee
    • FutureLearn: courses in business management, creative arts and media, tech and coding, and more; free access, but upgrade is required to obtain certificate
  • Returnships: Internships for adults! Plug this term into your search engine and review the results that you get there. iRelaunch is a website devoted to parents who are returning to work, and it includes some content on this topic.
  • Apprenticeships: This link is to Colorado’s apprenticeship program, but look at your local workforce development center or unemployment office for something near you.
  • Remote Work: It might be useful for you to work from home as a segue to work outside the home. Some reputable sites include:
    • Flexjobs. This is a subscription-based site, but you can preview some of the options before you opt in. Try using the coupon code “save30” to get a discount if you decide to opt-in (I don’t get a kick-back if you use it – it’s just a site that I like and respect, so I’ve partnered with it for some projects).
    • The Muse. Click on Search Jobs/Remote and Work from Home Jobs.
    • Indeed. type “remote” into the “What” field and the leave the “Where” field blank. Click “Find Jobs,” and consider setting up a daily email from Indeed (see box in sidebar of Indeed after you run a search, and you’ll find “Get new jobs for this search by email” with a space to enter your email address). Caution with Indeed: look to see how old the job posting is when you view opportunities that you’re interested in – Indeed often has listings up for months – I suggested going after only those that have been posted within the past week
    • Working Mother. Good resource for jobs that may be remote or companies that may be receptive to parents returning to the workforce. There’s actually a great article that outlines some additional resources.
    • Hire My Mom. Potential contract work.
    • Career Contessa. Click on Jobs/Location/Remote

If you’re searching for help beyond what’s listed in this article, set up time on my calendar, and we’ll talk through what you’re seeking.