If you’re planning to return to work when your homeschooling days are done, now—right now—is the time to start getting ready for career reentry
It’s the thing we all dread: That moment in the future, in two years or ten years or twenty years, when we have to sit down in front of a computer and try to figure out how to fit a decade-plus of homeschooling into our resume.
Whatever your reasons for returning to the world of work, you couldn’t have picked a less hospitable time. Moms returning to the workforce have never had it easy—a Cornell University study found that just being a mom makes you half as likely to get called for an interview than your single peers. And now, with the economic downturn and high levels of unemployment, you’re going to be competing for jobs with other unemployed people who have more current experience than you do. How, then, can a mama with a hefty, homeschool-size gap in her resume, track down a gig in this competitive climate? The key is to start preparing for your job hunt right now, well before you’re actually in the market for a new job. Homeschooling has probably helped you hone and develop all kinds of new skills, but you will have to help companies understand your value—and to do that, you’ll need to speak a language that they understand. Here’s how to set the wheels in motion for your return to the working world.
Revisit your options. If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, consider whether the work you left is the work you want to return to. The degree you earned two decades ago may no longer be the right fit, and making the switch to a career you’re genuinely excited about can be liberating. Not sure where your career passions lie? Think about what people always compliment you on, suggests Whitney Johnson, author of Dare, Dream, Do.
Plug back in to your field. Knowing the buzz on issues and current players in your field keeps you from seeming like an out-of-touch, out-of-the- game applicant. make a point to get back up to speed by subscribing to a major newspaper, such as The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, and any go-to journals in your field.
Reconnect to your professional network. Ideally, you’d still be in touch with old bosses and coworkers, but realistically, you’ve probably been too swamped to even think about people you once worked with. That’s okay. you can start rebuilding your network now by reaching out to old work connections (Linkedin is great for this) and considering who your new connections might be: the photographer who shoots your co-op yearbook? The marketing director at the animal shelter where you volunteer? Establish your new network, and make a point of reaching out to the people in it every few months. When you’re ready to start job-hunting, your network will already be in place.
Make the most of volunteer time. Volunteer work works for your resume. so be strategic with volunteer efforts, and look for opportunities that will grow your resume in the direction you want it to go—whether you’re writing a monthly newsletter, soliciting community donations, or planning a donor party, community service can boost your resume with current skills.