You’ve been off the job market for 3 years, and instead of busting out Excel spreadsheets and honing your SEO skills, you’ve been wiping snotty noses and teaching toddlers to share . Your stay-at-home mom resume is second-to-none, but you have no idea how to re-enter the job market. Here are some of the best job search tips for stay-at-home moms.
1. Call your stay-at-home mom time a “sabbatical.” This is a great word that job-seekers use to describe educational advancement, or a personal break for child-rearing, parents or relocation. “This conveys to the organization that something started, and it is ending,” says Kelley Rexroad, an HR expert who has hired thousands of professionals in her 30-year career. Ten years ago, she started krexconsulting, a job coaching firm dedicated to matching excellent candidates with forward-thinking businesses. “Whenever I have had someone with this on their resume, there is no question.”
2. Be flexible. Use your need for a family-friendly schedule to your benefit. For instance, if you are applying for a full-time job, but really want to work 10am to 3pm, then suggest that you can fill the position with those hours. You can cover lunches, and you won’t need time for appointments because you’ll schedule them around the work schedule. You may also be able to fill holidays, if those are days your husband has vacation and can watch the kids.
3. Craft a stand-out resume. You only have 6 seconds to impress an employer, so standing out is essential. Your resume should be clean, straight-forward and modern. Pure Resume offers a great series of resume and cover letter templates, which are both chic and professional. All you do is download the one you like, and then customize them with your skill set. It’s that easy!
4. Ditch the objective. These days, having an objective section on a resume is considered outdated. “If you have a resume, we know your objective; it is to find a job,” Rexroad says. Instead, create a professional summary that highlights what you bring. For instance: “Technically-savvy accounting professional who knows how to build long-term relationships. Ability to multitask. Known for organizational skills which allow an extra amount of work to be completed. A quick learner. Recognized for integrity.”
5. Be optimistic. “The number 1 hurdle for stay-at-home moms, and really everyone, to overcome is mindset,” Rexroad says. “The job market is hungry for good talent, so now is a great time to look for work.”
6. Make sure your email and voicemail greeting are professional. Don’t use your birth year in your email address, and take the kids off your voicemail greeting. “Yesterday, I heard a voicemail that had music from the movie Frozen, blaring in the background, and the person said, ‘Let it go when you leave a message,'” Rexroad said. “Not professional.”
7. Don’t take a phone call unless you’re ready for it. Let it go to voicemail and then call back a few minutes later, when your voice is calm and you are in a noise-free environment. (Yes, even if that means turning on Planes, giving the kids the box of Cheez-Its and hiding out in the bathroom.)
8. Join LinkedIn. The biggest recruiting tool right now is LinkedIn, Rexroad says. To be a credible job-seeker, you must have a LinkedIn profile, and make sure your profile has a professional-looking picture.
9. Seek jobs outside of the usual scope. Don’t just stick with what your major was in college, or what you did before becoming a parent. “Since you’ve become a stay-at-home mom, you’ve added skills and learned a lot. Keep that in mind when looking at job openings,” Rexroad says. Google “family-friendly firms” and don’t forget to look at not-for-profits. There may not be openings today, but if you’re a perfect fit for the job, the organization may hire you when someone leaves.
10. Call after 6pm. “This is a great way to miss the gatekeeper,” Rexroad explains. If the person answers, great. But if you get their voicemail, here’s an example of what to say: “I have applied at your firm since we both value customer service. My ability to communicate clearly and delight people is one of my strengths, and I’d like to put this to use for your firm. I will call again on Tuesday, or feel free to call me at (your phone number). Again, that number is (repeat number, slowly and clearly).” Then, when you call back on Tuesday, you can tell the gatekeeper you are calling back as promised. Now, you are a person who keeps their word.
11. Dress professionally, yet comfortably for the interview. Don’t bring your diaper bag to the interview. “Yes, I had someone do this,” Rexroad recalls. “She told me she didn’t have time to move her purse items to the diaper bag so she just brought it.” Also, wear flats (if that’s what you’re used to in your daily mom life), and bring an extra shirt, just in case the nursing boobs or the baby’s sticky applesauce hands decorated your outfit without you noticing.
12. Keep the kid talk out of the interview. If you spend time talking about kids and motherhood, the organization will think you aren’t thinking about the job, and they might view this as an example of how you will be in the workplace. Legally, recruiters cannot ask if you have kids. “But, they might try to find out by asking things like, ‘Are you able to work late?’ or ‘Can you work Saturdays?'” Rexroad explains. “The best answer for this is: ‘Yes, I can.’ Don’t say: ‘Yes, I can find childcare.’ The kids are your problem, not theirs.”
13. Do your own research on sick pay and health insurance. It’s understandable that any mom, going back to work, will want to make sure they can take time off when their kids are sick, and that their family has adequate health insurance. But don’t ask about that in the interview. “If you do, the recruiter will interpret it as you figuring out how not to work,” Rexroad says. “To the organization, what you ask about in the interview is what you consider important, so it’s a little bit of a test.” Focus on how you can grow in the firm, and what success in the role looks like.
14. Involve your kids. Understandably, kids can have some anxiety about Mama going back to work. Rexroad recalls working with one mother, who had stayed home for 5 years and was trying to go back to work. So, she asked the kids to help design their mom’s business cards. “It was great,” Rexroad says. “The kids felt a part of the new activity, and in turn, the mom saw how proud they were of her.”
Got more questions? Join our Twitter party!
Join our #SAHM Twitter party, answering all your questions about the stay-at-home mom journey back to work, on Tuesday, January 13 at 1-3pm EST! First, we invite you to follow She Just Glows on Twitter. Then, log onto Twitter at party time, use the hashtag #SAHM and ask away! Rexroad will be joined by career advisor and Introvert Whisperer Dorothy Tannahill-Moran; Nancy Grace contributor and work-from-home mom Meredyth Censullo; and stay-at-home mom-turned-TV-traffic-reporter Laura Byrne. Plus, one lucky winner will receive their choice of resume template from Pure Resume. (Winner will be announced during Twitter party. Must follow @shejustglows and tweet using #SAHM during Twitter party to be entered to win.) To RSVP, leave your Twitter handle in the comments section of this post!