Tips for reentering the workforce after raising kids

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By Noah McGee, The Active Times

Before reacquainting yourself with the etiquette of the office or even learning how to negotiate that new salary, you need to get an offer for your first job back after time away spent wrangling the kids. It can be tough getting back out there. You want to make sure that your kids are taken care of so you take some time off. You get to help your kids grow up and you get to be with them every day. But the workforce may seem unforgiving, and after years of not being part of it, you may feel behind. It may feel overwhelming, but there are definitely ways to get you back in the game.


Be patient

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Getting back into the workforce can be a scary thing. Just because you had a great job and a lot of experience before you took a break from your professional life doesn’t mean you’ll get the first job you apply for. A healthy way to start this journey is to realize that this is a process, and that it will take time to ease your way back in.


Identify skills and interests

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Know what you like and know what you don’t like. Do you want to work on weekends or not? You should make a list of all your skills and interests and move on from there. This step is important because you don’t want to be in a job that will quickly cause you to burn out.


Consider your new skills

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You’ve learned a lot since you left the traditional workforce and your new skills could be just as applicable as the skills you gained in your work life. Are there hobbies you have picked up since you were last in the workforce that you could parlay into something professional? Consider how to apply and showcase those new skills as well as the old ones.


Think about motivations

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Why are you deciding to go back into the workforce? Is it for financial reasons? Or is it because you are looking for something beyond your home life to fulfill you? Your motivations should inform what kind of jobs you're looking for.


Learn about the job market

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The world moves fast and so does the job market. The job market might look unrecognizable from when you left. The internet can be a great resource for learning about what has changed. Try to learn as much as you can about how the workforce has changed in your desired field before you jump in looking for a job.


Know what’s out there

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Once you’ve done the research on the job market as well as done some reflection of what you would like your next career opportunity to look like, it’s time to actually determine which jobs would be good fits. Consider your local job market and figure out which jobs could be right for you.


Find opportunities

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Perhaps the most important part of job searching is to actually find the jobs. There are traditional ways you can do this (newspaper ads, job sites), but also consider staffing/temp agencies that would ease you back into the workforce. There are plenty of seasonal jobs that can be good short-term options for you.


Test your interests

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Consider testing your interests in a real setting. Reach out to people in your desired field and ask what their day-to-day is like. Volunteering or job shadowing can also help discover whether a job that sounds like a good fit for you would actually work out in real life.


Meet job qualifications

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The more you learn about what is out there, the more you’ll learn about the qualifications required for the types of jobs you want. If there is a position or type of job you want but there is a skill that you are not that proficient in, take some time to learn about it and be trained in that skill. Gaining that experience might mean a community college course or a webinar.


Improve tech skills

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Technology is always changing. More and more jobs are requiring that employees use technology to get their jobs done. If you haven’t been working for a long time, then chances are that technology has changed considerably since you were last part of the workforce. There are in-person and online classes you can take that can help improve your tech skills.


Network

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This is something that has not really changed. Your next job could be found because of who you know. Whether it’s online through social networking sites or in person, there are many options for networking. It can be at a job fair, conference or any other event where there is conversing. And if you come from a school with a ton of spirit, consider reaching out to your alumni network for help.


Perfect your resume

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There are some ways of displaying your skills that will be more effective than others. The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests avoiding a traditional chronological resume format. Since you’ve taken considerable time off, try a functional resume format that focuses on skills instead of a traditional resume setup that focuses more on work history.


Set goals

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You’ve been gone for a while and could be a little rusty. You have to ease into the process of searching for employment after not doing so for a while. Don’t try to do everything at one time. Try setting some goals for what you want. Maybe you want to apply for 10 jobs in a week or you want an interview after two weeks of searching. It all depends on what you want.


Get help from experts

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There are experts that help people plan out their career and can be a huge resource. Career counselors are great for organizing your job search and the next steps you should take. They can help gather information about opportunities that interest you and help shorten your search.


Line up your work references

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Throughout the process of your job search, people will ask for others that will support what you claim to say about yourself. Be careful with this. You should not put anyone in your family as a reference. That will lose validity instantly. Think about these references before you ask for them and inform them if you use them as a reference. This can be a former boss or colleague or someone you have volunteered with.


Craft a cover letter

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This can be voluntary. Not every employer requires a cover letter, but it can be important for employers in terms of getting to know who you are. It allows them to learn about your story in a way that a resume or application won’t. This could be a good time to explain the gap in your employment.


Apply

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Target your search when applying for jobs. Don’t try to force your qualifications or experience into a description that doesn’t really fit you, and instead apply for the jobs that you can actually see yourself doing. Create a routine for applying for jobs and take the process seriously.


Interview

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Dress appropriately, get there early, be polite and professional. Before the interview, do your research about your potential employer and rehearse what you want to say about yourself, your interests and goals and how they connect to the job. Make sure to always have a question ready other than “When will I hear back?”


Follow up

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You’ve applied for your job and had your interview. But you’re still not done. Follow up with the person you interviewed with. There is no exact timeline on how long you should wait before following up, but many recommend waiting at least four to five business days. Your follow-up should be through an email or letter that reiterates your interest in the position.


Be open to new experiences

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Don’t be afraid to explore opportunities that you haven’t done before. It’s just as important to know what you don’t want to do. You won’t know until you try. Be open to a part-time job or even having two jobs. There are side jobs you can do while looking for jobs or even when you get a full-time job.

See more at: The Active Times

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