As I embark on a new week my calendar looks pretty much the same as it has for a while now – school drop off, taking my kids to swim lessons, dance classes, cooking and cleaning, etc. But this week I have something new on my calendar I haven’t had in eight years: a paying job. Yep, in addition to getting paid with hugs and kisses from my kiddos, I will be actually earning some cold, hard cash (what a concept)! Mind you it is part time, very part time, like in five hours a week. After taking care of babies, one who is now school age and one a toddler, I myself am taking baby steps back into the workforce.
How could I account for an 8-year employment gap on my resume? I couldn’t exactly write I’ve been folding tons of laundry, arranging play dates and potty training. Fortunately before motherhood I was a career coach at a local university, so I know the importance of transferable skills, remaining active in your career field and the value of volunteer work. These are the three main areas I concentrated on in order to begin the process of relauching myself into the working world. And for any mother looking to re-enter the workforce this
plan can work for you too.
Transferable Skills – According to the 2012 Job Outlook Survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the skills and abilities most important are teamwork, verbally communicate, make decisions and solve problems, plan/organize/prioritize work, analyze data, computer literacy, create/edit written reports (essentially written communication), and the ability to sell or influence others. Did you know written communication is one of the top transferable skills employers seek? If you are a faithful Patch reader, you know editors are always seeking local residents to start their own blog. Why not try it? Blogging on Patch is a great way to keep your writing skills up to snuff and write something you care about.
Include experiences on your resume when you used or are using, these transferable skills in a professional manner, which brings me to the next important area – the value of volunteering.
Volunteering & Community Involvement – Just because you didn’t get paid doesn’t mean you didn’t do the work. Treat volunteer experience as you would work experience on your resume by highlighting the transferable skills you used. For example, do you teach CCD classes, or assist in fundraising events for your favorite charity? As a mom, I’ve found my daughter’s school is a great place for me to make a difference, both for the students and as a way to build and maintain my skill set. For example, I’ve done or am doing the following: assisted in planning and executing fundraisers, prepared and facilitated art lessons in the classroom, organized communication lists and served as a liaison between the classroom teacher and parents as a Room Mom, and serve on the PTO as a Board Member.
There are many ways to become involved in the community; some local opportunities include: The Friends of the EG Library, The East Greenwich Woman’s Club, and The EG Rotary Club. These groups organize, market and hold various events throughout the year. The Volunteer Center at Serve Rhode Island’s website is http://volunteer.truist.com/vcri/volunteer/ where you can search for volunteer opportunities that match your interests and skill sets.
Be sure to quantify any positive results. For example, if you serve on a PTA at school and worked on a fundraiser, include it on your resume. It could look like this: assisted in planning and executing a PTA fundraiser that raised 5K for technology funds.
Another bonus to volunteering and participating in the community is it’s a terrific way to network which is the number one method to land a job.
Stay active in a career field – Keep your industry specific skills current by maintaining professional associations you had prior to staying home. Attend conferences, events or workshops in person or through a webinar. Check local
and regional professional associations you can attend for a day or even for
half a day. You can also network at home through professional internet discussion groups and be visible online through LinkedIn. You can do this in your pajamas with the house still a mess! I joined online discussion boards so I can at least identify and understand current trends in my career field. What worked for me the best was working pro bono. I assist family, friends, people I know from my everyday life as a mom with resumes, career changing & college major selection.
With this information captured, now I needed to translate it to a resume a potential employer would want to read. Employers want to know, "What can you do for me, what skills do you possess that will make you successful in the job you want and by the way, can you prove it to me?"
Next week I’ll write how any mom can validate and quantify her skills in a format
employers will want to read.