Monday, July 30, 2007

Stay-at-Home Mom Re-Enters Career

I am writing because I am at my whit’s end. I have been a stay-at-home mother for a little over a year and a half. Also, I have not volunteered since the summer of '06. I don't think I am being considered for any positions because my job history ended November ‘05. Therefore, when employers look at my resume, they are tossing it to the side. I have been fortunate to land a few interviews, where I always seem to be in the running for the job against other people, and eventually lose out.

What can I do? I need to help my husband with our bills. But, I just end up feeling like a loser after the 3rd interview and no phone call.
Mommy at the end of her rope!

by Vivian Steir Rabin, Co-author, Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work, Founder, iRelaunch

Dear Mommy at the end of her rope:
First of all, don’t despair. Dwelling on your failure to secure an offer can only hurt your confidence, which in turn affects how you come across in interviews. A few thoughts:

Are you applying to jobs that suit your skills? Don’t answer lots of ads thinking “the more the merrier.” You’ll just end up depressed when you don’t get contacted. Answer only those ads for which you think you’re a fit. Then, if you don’t get contacted, consider calling or e-mailing the contact listed pointing out how your skills meet the requirements and stating that although you’ve been home with your children for a year and a half you’re very eager to re-enter the workforce. One of the women we interviewed for our book did just that and managed to talk her way out of the circular file and into an interview. Also, in order to secure an interview or boost your chances after you’ve had one, reach out to anyone you know in that company and ask them to put in a good word for you with HR or the hiring manager.

This brings me to my next point. Don’t just rely on answering ads to find a job. Most people get jobs through someone they know, although not necessarily from someone they know well. So the key here is to network—with old colleagues, your kids’ friends’ parents, the people you used to volunteer with and their spouses—you get the idea. Develop an elevator story—a short description of your skills and the type of work you’re looking for—and use it in conversations with these people. Then, don’t ask them if they know of any jobs for you—most people don’t and the conversation will end there—but ask them if there’s anyone they recommend you contact. Also, if you have a list of target companies in which you’re interested, ask them if they know anyone at these companies. Reach out to those your first contacts recommend, always asking people for additional suggested contacts. Eventually, you will find yourself talking with someone who knows about a job that’s a good fit for you, and you’ll have the “inside track” because someone the hiring manager knows will be recommending you.

As you’re networking, consider signing up with a temporary firm in your area so that you’ll have some money coming in, put some current experience on your resume, and perhaps even get your foot in the door at a company you like. I don’t know what your field is so I can’t make a specific recommendation. Try googling using keywords for your field and the words “staffing” or “temporary placement” to see what firms handle temporary jobs in your discipline.

Finally, since you note that you’ve been able to land a few interviews but can’t seem to make it to the offer stage, make sure your interview skills are up to snuff. Communicate your passion and fit for the position. Try role-playing interviews with working friends to increase your comfort and success in the interview setting.

Good luck, and I hope you land a good opportunity soon.

Vivian Steir Rabin is an executive recruiter and co-author of Back on the Career Track, a guide to career reentry recently published by Warner Books. Together with her co-author, Carol Fishman Cohen, and a third partner, Chris McGarry Gelnaw, Ms. Rabin has founded iRelaunch, a company devoted to forging connections between individuals on career break and companies seeking to reengage them.

Visit for articles, news, and advice on Diversity recruiting.

No comments: