Archives for category: Career Advice

I submitted my final time sheet today. I’m a little melancholy about it. Ok, I’m actually a lot melancholy about it. The past year I have been working part time, 15 hours a month, for the town I just moved from, as a Program Administrator. It was a very fulfilling position for me as for those few hours a month I could work in a professional setting and put some of my other skills to use. Side note: town government is a great field for transitioning back into work since they often have part time positions available. I was extremely lucky because I was mostly working from home, submitting reports and emails after the kids were in bed.

I’m still kind of shocked that I got the position in the first place. My interview was pitiful. It was probably tied with my very first interview out of college, as the worst one I’ve ever had. I could not form a complete thought. I could not think quickly enough to come up with examples of prior experience. (I am not making excuses, but I had a six month old at home and barely slept that night.) I felt so disconnected from the person who was represented on my resume. I had to keep reminding myself, they were asking questions about me the professional, not someone’s mom. For the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about what I could have done differently to be better prepared. I’d like to think it will be smoother next time, but in reality, having a great interview comes down to practice. I’m anticipating a few more rocky interviews in my future (and I kind of don’t care). I can’t emphasize this enough, if you have someone who is willing to give you a mock interview, take them up on it. I had prepared my thoughts on paper but I found it was very different when I said them out loud. I also think it would have helped if I thought about what I had gained the most out of each position and talked more broadly (since the finer details were escaping me anyway). Also, I will say that it would have helped if I gave myself an hour buffer before the interview to get out of mommy mode and into the right mind frame. And lastly, don’t be so hard on yourself. It may not go smoothly, but at least you’ve learned from the wee ones how to pick yourself up and keep on going.

Do you have any interview prep tips?

In a previous post, I recommended that every stay-at-home parent reentering the workplace should consider volunteering. I also suggested that you include that volunteer experience on your resume, particularly if it is relevant to your skill set. There are several types of volunteer positions and here’s what I would recommend: first and foremost, find an organization that you feel passionate about; next, consider a position on their board or a committee, especially if your skill set aligns with their need; last, take on an individual project or something substantial that will maximize your time and challenge you. Full disclaimer: I worked for several non-profits and relied heavily on volunteers, which means that I know firsthand the importance of your commitment to that organization.

Now, here is why I think it’s important to YOU.

1) Networking. We all know the obvious reasons why networking is important, but a not so obvious reason is that the coordinator or director could act as a reference for you when you start applying.

2) Confidence/Self Worth. Those beautiful, precious kids that you are raising are physically and emotionally draining. Giving something back to the community might just be the confidence boost you need to remind you that you possess a myriad of skills, and at one time someone paid you for your expertise.

3) Keeps you sharp. If the only help the non-profit needs is stuffing envelopes, go ahead and do it, but try to aim for more skilled activities.

4) Makes you accountable. The important learning here is that you might be out of practice following deadlines and working under someone else’s direction (I should say, under another adult’s direction – ha!).

5) Interview. Last and absolutely most important is that volunteering gives you something to talk about at the interview.

You will no doubt be asked questions about projects you worked on, yours strengths and weaknesses, difficult personalities you had to deal with, a time when you missed a deadline, and on and on and on. Answering those questions with anything having to do with a toddler is completely unacceptable (although very tempting!).

Now go out and volunteer!

If you’ve been home for a while and you plan to return to work at some point, do yourself a solid and open your resume. Seriously. I know it’s the furthest thing from your mind right now. But, there are a few good reasons for this: 1) you likely didn’t update it with your last work experience as you were preoccupied with expecting a new addition, 2) you NEED to see what story your resume tells about you, and 3) you need to make a plan to transition back in and that may require more schooling or certifications.

We recently relocated to a new state and my husband’s employer graciously provided me (! wow, something for me) with a career coach in the event I was going to be job searching. I am not going back just yet, but I did take them up on the offer of resume help and it was fabulous. One thing I had not included on my previous resumes (and I will going forward) is a summary of my work experience at the very top. In just a few bullet points, the coach showed me how to pull out the experience I want to highlight, and in my case since I would like to work in a completely new field, how to connect the experience I have with the type of candidate they are looking for. Very broad brush summary. Think along the lines of what are your defining, strongest skills. Do the work for the hiring manager! Connect the dots. Makes a ton of sense to me.

The other piece of advice they gave me is that volunteer experience can be included on your resume, especially if it is long-term in nature. It shows you are engaged and motivated. Use your judgement with the type of position you are seeking, but by all means, take credit for the hard work you are doing for the school or MOMs group or wherever. –Don’t have volunteer experience? Go get some. It’s super important. Stay tuned, that will be an upcoming post. —

And once you put all that time into your resume, you should update your LinkedIn profile and keep your connections up to date.

If anyone is interested in reviewing each others’ resumes, please comment.