Some parents choose to stay home for many years to raise kids. Others do so because the cost of childcare would pretty much wipe out any income they’d earn from their jobs. If you’re a stay-at-home parent, chances are that you’d like to get back into the workforce someday, whether it’s in a couple of months or several years. But going from stay-at-home parent to employee is easier said than done, especially if you maintain the former schedule for many years in a row.
In fact, you’ll often hear that the longer you stay out of the workforce, the harder it’ll be to break back in. And in a recent survey from FlexJobs, more than 50% of stay-at-home parents took a longer break from the workforce than expected.
If you’re worried that a temporary or extended stint as a stay-at-home parent might wreck your chances of ever being employed again, here are a few things you can do to make yourself a more viable job candidate when you are ready to start working again.
1. Stay in touch
It’s hard to push yourself to stay connected with former colleagues and professional associates when their days are all about meetings and deadlines, and your routine revolves around watching kids and tending to the many peripheral needs that come with them (think food prep and constant laundry). Still, it’s important to stay in touch with those people because they’re the ones you’ll likely want to reach out to when the time comes to get back into the workforce.
Therefore, set some reminders on your calendar to send sporadic emails or make an effort to meet up with your old coworkers or managers for lunch or dinner every five or six months. It’ll go a long way when you’re ready to ask for their assistance in getting yourself hired.
2. Keep boosting your skills
Keeping your skills current is one of the best things you can do to more easily to find a job after taking an extended break from the workforce to raise kids. If you’re able to show prospective employers that you made an effort to stay on top of industry changes and rules, or that you took steps to avoid letting your skills lapse, it’ll send the message that you’re serious about your career and are capable of multitasking. (After all, it can’t be easy to do all of that while also caring for children.)
Continue reading up on industry trends and be sure to do what it takes to maintain your professional certifications. Doing so will most certainly be a nod in your favor down the line.
3. Aim to do a little work on the side
There’s nothing like a glaring resume gap to lower your chances of getting hired after spending time as a stay-at-home parent. To avoid one, aim to do a little work on the side while you primarily focus on your kids, whether it’s freelancing in your former field or trying something new that you’ve always been interested in. Doing so will not only help your career, but bring in some helpful income at the same time.
There’s nothing wrong with taking time away from your career to focus on your family. But if you want to avoid issues breaking back into the workforce, be sure to make an effort to stay connected to your former colleagues, keep your skills updated, and, if possible, do a small amount of work so you don’t have an absolute resume gap on your hands.