How Parents Can Return to the Workforce

woman between two childrens sitting on brown wooden bench during daytime
by Advice Chaser
by Advice Chaser
woman between two childrens sitting on brown wooden bench during daytime

Are you a parent who left the workforce during the pandemic? Or did you leave it a while ago and now find yourself trying to return in the middle of a global crisis? Returning to the workforce can seem especially intimidating for parents under current circumstances, but there are still plenty of options out there. 

Juggling Work and Childcare

One of the biggest obstacles to parents returning to the workforce is childcare. Even if your children are old enough to be in school, that leaves awkward gaps in the early mornings and late afternoons. You also have to take into account school breaks, teacher in-service days, or times when your kids are home sick.

Daycare might be necessary. Ask around in your local community to find a reliable sitter or low-cost daycare. Even a family member might consider helping you out temporarily. 

On the other hand, daycare might not be very appealing when children under the age of 12 still can’t get vaccinated against Covid-19. Plus, you might find yourself in a financial pinch if you have to pay for daycare up-front but don’t get your first paycheck from a new job until 2 weeks after you start!

Fortunately, the gig economy has been flourishing in recent times. Consider if you have skills that can be leveraged into a remote job, such as writing, software development, tutoring, etc. If the job has flexible hours you can fit it into the times when you do have childcare available. 

There are also jobs that offer flexible hours and require little or no prior experience. You could grocery shop or do meal delivery, particularly if people in your area are still staying home more than they used to. 

Depending on your goals, these options could be a long-term solution or could just help bridge the gaps until a better childcare solution becomes available. 

Minding the Resume Gap

Getting Fresh Experience

Maybe you already have childcare, but dread trying to explain the gaps in your resume. But you aren’t the first parent to return to the workforce after a gap. Doing gig and freelance work, as mentioned above, is one way to freshen things up so your most recent experience isn’t from a different decade. 

If you can swing a full-time job outside the home, you could consider taking an entry-level position in whatever field is hiring. Even if it doesn’t directly relate to your career field, it can help to have recent references. Plus you can often make experience relevant with a little creative thinking. Perhaps that job waiting tables gave you important multitasking and conflict resolution skills!

Volunteering is another great way to freshen up your resume. Some volunteer opportunities, such as animal shelters, will even encourage you to bring your kids, so you won’t end up paying for a babysitter in order to work for free. 

If you aren’t too pressed for cash, consider taking a class or getting a certification in a skill relevant to your field. In addition to giving you new skills, this is a great way to show that you’re committed to keeping abreast with the latest developments even if your professional experience is a bit dated. 

Present Yourself Positively

When it comes time to actually open up that old resume document, consider abandoning the classic chronological format. An alternate style called a “functional resume” allows you to present your experience grouped by type instead of chronologically. This draws attention away from any awkward gaps and puts it where it should be, on your qualifications.

Most importantly, don’t sell yourself short before you even have a foot in the door. While you obviously shouldn’t lie about your work history, you also shouldn’t apologize. Your life experience is valuable and believing that yourself is the first step to convincing a prospective employer of the same. 

Networking

Networking is one of the most powerful tools in your job search arsenal, but it’s also one of the most intimidating for many people. When you return to the workforce after a while, you may not have many contacts besides fellow parents.

If you’re one of those people, you don’t have to jump right into cocktail mixers. Try creating a profile on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn if you haven’t already. For in-person interaction, look into your alma mater’s alumni services or a site such as Meetup. 

Also remember that contacts outside the industry can be valuable resources. You can make connections without schmoozing even once! Maybe you mention your job search to another parent at the playground and get a lead. Maybe someone in your book club or plant swap knows someone looking for an employee with your skill set. You never know when one of these serendipitous connections might happen, so don’t worry if you aren’t out there chatting up potential employers every evening. 

Get Advice on Returning to the Workforce as a Parent

Many challenges come with reentering the workforce during a pandemic. That doesn’t mean you can’t succeed. Employers in many industries want to lure you back to work. Contact us to connect with an experienced financial advisor for more help planning your career future. 

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