Are you a stay-at-home mom who wants or needs to return to work? I am too! After a decade of being home with my kids, I’m excited to explore the next chapter of my life.
Ten years ago, I left my high-paying career to become a stay-at-home mom.
“I’ll stay home for six months,” I thought. “Six short months, and I’ll return to work as a software engineer.”
But I wasn’t ready to go when the calendar rolled from November to May.
“Maybe I’ll return in a year,” I thought, but somehow that one year turned into eight more.
“I’ll go back when my youngest goes to kindergarten,” I said until a global pandemic put a wrench in my plans. The following year I cared for my dad as he faced stage IV esophageal cancer.
When I left work, I was in my mid-thirties. When I re-enter the workplace, I’ll be in my mid-forties!
Is it Hard to go Back to Work After Being a Stay-at-Home Mom?
Going back to work feels downright impossible for many stay-at-home moms. If you didn’t dabble in side projects during your employment gap, what can you write in the skills and work experience sections of your resume?
I’ve remained busy during my stint as a stay-at-home parent. I helped my husband run a small business, wrote freelance articles, worked as a substitute, fundraised, and blogged. Yet here I am, staring at a long list of job applications and LinkedIn listings, wondering if I’ll find a new position.
Many stay-at-home parents lack confidence. I have experience in software development, project management, business analysis, recruiting, customer service, and testing. One part of my brain tells me I can efficiently perform all of my old job functions, and the other part tells me I can’t compete with other active job seekers.
It’s okay to feel anxious, but try to rebuild your confidence. Make a list of all the characteristics and qualities that make you a good employee. Then remind yourself that you have the skills you need.
How to Find a Job After Being a Stay-at-Home Mom?
Finding a good job after being a stay-at-home mom is challenging. Returning to the workforce is tough for stay-at-home moms with employment gaps on their resumes. Are you ready to return to work but struggling to find a new position? As a stay-at-home mom searching for a job, I feel your pain.
Tips for Stay-at-Home Parents Returning to Work
How should you begin your job search and land that first job interview? Here are a few career tips to get you started.
1. Let People Know You’re Looking for Work
Let your friends and family know you’re looking for work again. You never know who can spread the word to help you find a new position.
2. Update Your Resume
If this is your first time working in a while, think about the transferable skills you’ve gained as a stay-at-home parent. Freshen up your resume and add side hustles and volunteer work to your resume if it feels empty. Resumes and cover letters provide a company’s first glance at your skills. Make sure you put your best foot forward by creating a resume highlighting your experiences and skills.
3. Create Cover Letters Unique to Each Job Description
Make sure to create cover letters when a job calls for them. Cover letters allow you to introduce yourself to a recruiter or hiring manager. Use this opportunity to highlight your skills and explain your employment gap.
4. Reach Out to Former Coworkers
If you’ve kept in contact with former coworkers, reach out to them. Tell them you’re looking for work again and ask if they know of any openings. Also, ask if they’d be a reference if you need one.
5. Cast a Wide Net
Search high and low for new positions. If you’ve been out a long time, consider searching for jobs at the bottom of the ladder. Send out resumes for entry-level jobs even if you have too much experience. After a long absence, you might need to start at the bottom and work your way back up.
6. Practice Interviewing
It might seem strange to practice interviewing this far in advance, but it’s essential to be prepared for an interview before you land it. Familiarize yourself with common interview questions. Then practice answering them in front of someone you trust.
7. Avoid Scams
Avoid searching for “jobs for moms” or “stay-at-home mom jobs.” These often lead to MLMs, scams, gimmicks, and paid training programs that won’t help you land new work.
If your resume feels empty, consider volunteering your time. What small actions can you take now that will give you real-world experience again?
9. Consider Part-Time Work
Many job sites focus on full-time positions, but sometimes, a part-time position can turn into a full-time one. If you’ve been out of work, you need recent experience. Plugging away at part-time jobs can help you fill out a blank resume.
10. Search Locally
Many former stay-at-home moms dream of working from home but don’t rule out local positions. You may find less competition for jobs that require you to come to the office.
11. Search for Temporary Work
Check out staffing agencies if you need help finding work. Temporary positions allow you to pad your resume until you find more permanent employment. Many employers also use temporary jobs to test out new employees. A temporary job could easily convert to a permanent one.
See if you can freelance if you can’t find a permanent position. Freelancing will help you bring in money while you search for something more permanent.
Woah, that list is long! But your work isn’t over yet. Here are a few additional steps to take:
Discuss Your Employment Gap
Be prepared to discuss your employment gap with hiring managers. You don’t have to go into detail, but you will need one or two upbeat sentences to explain it. Employers will assume you are unemployed if you don’t create an elevator pitch to explain your time away from work.
Consider Additional Training
Enroll in online courses or training if it’ll help you get a foot in the door, but be careful about how much you spend. Many boot camps, certification courses, and other online learning promise big rewards but don’t deliver.
Make sure you review the graduation rates of any courses you take. You can also search for classes with employment guarantees but wait to sign anything. Many of these programs require you to attend networking sessions and apply to twenty jobs each week. Make sure you’re willing to put in the effort to receive a refund.
How Do I Start a New Career After Being a Stay-at-Home Mom?
What if you want to avoid returning to a job like your old one? Is it time for a career transition?
When I was younger, I wanted to teach reading and writing. Now I’d like to teach students to code. Is teaching the right fit for me? I’m still deciding, but I’m looking into the certifications required to become a computer science teacher.
What did you want to do in your younger years? Are those types of positions in high demand? Do you have the skills and interest to pursue them?
Take the time to explore your opportunities. Rather than searching for a job like you left, consider pivoting into a new career.
If you’re unsure what you want to do, consider focusing on high-demand careers like nursing. You’re more likely to land a job when there are more job openings than candidates to fill them.
You can also consider adjacent roles. I used to work as a software engineer, but I’m also a certified project manager. Could I make the switch to project management? There are lots of tech-related careers. Can you switch from technical support to customer service or from teaching to administration?
What did you do before you left the workforce to care for your kids? Do you have the skills and experience to pivot into a role related to your old position? When searching for job postings, look for functions related to your former work and keep an open mind about all job options.
Is 40 Too Old to Start a Career?
Of course not, but you might have to rebuild your confidence before you pursue a new career.
I’ve struggled with confidence in my life but never regarding employment. In my younger years, I boldly applied for jobs and aced interviews. Yet here I was, questioning my abilities. It makes sense
But it’s different now. I’m in my mid-forties and facing an environment sped forward by a decade.
Don’t let insecurity steer your decisions. If you’re excited to start a new career, figure out what it will take to make that happen!
Embrace Returning to Work After Being a Stay-At-Home Mom
Sometimes we return to work because we are passionate about our careers, and other times we return because we need the money. Whatever your reason for returning, try your best to embrace the idea. Positivity will help you say goodbye to the stay-at-home chapter of your life so you can move on to the next one.
Trying to re-enter the workforce after an extended absence is challenging. You’ll want to maintain a positive attitude to get through the job search process. Remember that you will receive rejections along the way. Keep in mind that candidates without gaps in their resumes also experience them.
I wish you the best in your job search. If you have thoughts on the topic, please leave them in the comments below.