Tips for Stay at Home Moms who want to go back to Work: How to Manage Your Career during an Economic Downturn!
June 14, 2016
Few years back I had written a journal paper, based on my researches on qualified South Asian Women Immigrants and their economic integration into Canadian society. South Asia’s educated immigrants form the second largest group, in the core working age of the economic migrants to Canada. The women, predominately entering as spouses of economic migrants, were highly educated, likely to have been employed pre-migration and proficient in the English language (at least reading & writing). Statistics indicated that, in-spite of education, majority were underemployed and or unemployed, initially and even five/ ten years after migration. Employment decisions, which is whether to work or not, for this group are based on her cultural memories of her role as mother and primary care-giver of the family. However this is not something unique to South Asian Women. Over the years, I saw at my workplace many women, regardless of their ethnicity, opt out and stay at home to raise their kids. Most of these women I talk to now, who had opted out, and those who had never worked before, want to work or go back to work, 5 or even 10 years after they left or took the decision to not be part of the work force. The decision to come back is prompted by various reasons: economic (extra money would be good in harsh economic circumstances), or personal needs/validation/interest, or a little economic independence, etc.; whatever maybe the reason for doing so, one common emotion from these groups I heard was “Omg! I want to but the economy is so bad, I don’t think this the time to do anything about it!”
Recession Proof Your Job Search.
Yes, the economy is bad. Limited jobs and there are literally unlimited qualified candidates trying for those jobs. And you, being out of circulation for so long, you will wonder how you can hope to compete in such an atmosphere. When it is a Buyer’s market don’t cut corners, and most importantly, do not hesitate to invest in yourself. To stand out in any economic situation, there are 3 key factors you need to concentrate on in your job search. They are:
Your Interview Skills; and
Your Job Search Strategy
This is the time when you know that with your gaps in your resume, you do not have the competitive edge, you can take the steps needed to make yourself “Job Ready” and invest in yourself. Start taking those steps to make that comeback.
Believe that you can go back in: That’s the first step. Give yourself the pep talk. Believe in yourself and take a firm decision. You once took a decision to take the most important job in the world, to raise your kids ( next generation) as capable and responsible individuals; now it’s time to take next important decision; Belief in Yourself.
Perform a Self -Assessment: Examine why you want to go back to work. Is it just for the money? Don’t discard this reason, it is one of the basic and most important motivation factor which gives a person, independence and sense of achievement. If this is the first time you will be working, research the various entry level jobs around; they are excellent to gain self- confidence, Canadian experience, not to mention the money in hand, whatever maybe the amount. To find more meaning in life? Learn new things? Social interaction? Get out of the silence of the house? Whatever maybe your reasons, take time to reflect and think. If you were working during your pre- baby days, realize that you may not be able to get back at a similar level or even same industry. Set realistic goals and expectation. Find your interest areas and find avenues in those areas to get involved. Talk to a Career Consultant who will help you to chalk out the crucial path to work.
Update Your Skills: Technology is evolving at very fast rate. How familiar are you with latest version of MSWORD, Excel? PowerPoint? Quick books? Social Media tools etc. Look at your skills objectively and take classes, to learn new skills. Learn to update your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles. Here your Career Consultant can help you to understand what skill sets you need depending on the jobs you want to apply for.
Update Your Resume: Respect your volunteering work and your unpaid work: One aspect of Job hunting which would be daunting to most of us, would be thought of writing a resume. Also, you may realize that you don’t even have a resume now. Then wonder what you would do with the gaps in your resume and lack of work experience. Learn how to write that relevant resume with proper formatting. Did you know that there are various types of resumes depending on the candidate’s circumstances? Understand what information should go in your resume and how to position your skill sets and other information. The core objective of a Resume is to convey Your Mission Statement and Your Brand. Keep notes every day or every week on your recent accomplishments, whether as a volunteer or new skill learnt. These would all go into your resume. Don’t disregard that school fundraiser you coordinated or the language class you volunteered as tutor/ teacher. Learn how to fill those gaps positively in your resume including those volunteering work you did. Attend a resume writing class. Then see a professional to critique and give your resume that professional look.
Learn Interview Skills & Update your Communication Skills: In a job friendly market boom conditions, if you had the requisite skills, interview could be easier to ace. However, when the market is tight, to compete, you have to invest time to get coached on interviewing skills. Get acquainted with the trends in interview questions and how to answer those questions. How to answer the behavioural questions, even though you have no situational answer from your recent workplace. Leverage examples from your life, and the various activities you were involved in. This is the time to practice and attend interview coaching classes. Whatever the economic conditions are, the ultimate goal is to get that job. So when you are waiting for that call, you can get yourself ready to ace that interview when that call comes! For those whose English is not their first language, and especially if you have not been part of the work force for some time, communication skills training is very important. Communicating in the Canadian context is very important to learn so that you are able to perform better at interviews. It is not enough that we know the subject or know how to do the job. It is how you communicate, come across and answer the questions at the interview which is the deal- breaker. Communication is very important not only at the interview stage but also post -employment. Interview coaching develops not only communication skills but also teaches you to answer questions effectively depending on the type of question. Behavioural questions may be tricky to answer when you have been out of workforce for a long time. It’s well worth to invest in interview coaching.
Job Search Strategy: Update your job search skills: Job searching in this evolving technology era is different from the days when you could find all jobs in the classifieds section of a newspaper. Learn the new job search platforms, the new techniques of job search and also ways that you could upload your resume or create profiles at these various sites. Learn, how you can spread the word of your decision through these platforms. Job Search strategy involves:
Know the tools out there;
Know the networking opportunities out there;
Search for volunteer opportunities in your interest area;
Invest in learning and Professional Development
Understand your value proposition
Demonstrate Leadership and the ability to take on challenges.
Invest in attending employment workshops and training sessions on Pre-employment solutions like resume writing, interview coaching etc. These workshops will give you an opportunity to network and meet. Also, opportunity to learn new ways to job search- and give you ideas to explore places and areas you had not thought of.
Hire a Professional: And, if all seems daunting hire a professional who will coach you through the steps and build you that perfect resume to get you through the door, and once you are in, with the hours of coaching on interviews, you will be able to rock the interview and get the job.