Archives for posts with tag: resume

The Five Things I Want to Tell Employers About Women Returning to Work

http://www.theguardian.com/women-in-leadership/2015/mar/23/the-five-things-i-want-to-tell-employers-about-women-returning-to-work

I’m surprised they didn’t mention stay-at-home dads, too. Gentlemen, do you feel this represents your obstacles returning to work as well?

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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?

Who cares? What does it even mean to be relevant in today’s workplace? I’m still trying to figure this out myself, but I suspect my yearning to stay relevant has to do with human psychology. This is not my area of my expertise, but I am going to take a stab at it anyway.

I should back up a little bit. I wasn’t planning to be a stay-at-home parent. Here is how it went down for me. I worked my ass off in college and did what I could to stand out, particularly in my departmental studies. I did the whole, work for free for a summer because it looks good on your resume, internship. I took on leadership roles in different clubs to show I was well-rounded. I graduated top of my department and was ready to take on the world. (Mind you, I selected to major in Geography, a liberal arts degree, which I am wholeheartedly passionate about, but I admit has not lead to a stable career path). I found a rewarding career in non-profits and gave it my absolute all for the next eight years. In that short time, I relocated, was promoted, was laid off, was hired, managed a team, and was finally settling in for the long haul. My husband and I were ready to start a family and the plan was that I was going to continue working. At the time, I didn’t think much would change career wise. Amateur move! I went from managing a department to being a full-time parent in mere seconds (or so it felt that way).

So here is where the psychology comes in. At first, the rollercoaster of emotions after welcoming a child into your life overshadows any thoughts you have about your career (or pretty much anything else). But once the dust settles, and the little one is toddling around, you start to realize the more entrenched you are in baby world, the further away you are drifting from the professional world. It’s a very unsettling feeling, especially if you weren’t planning to be home full time in the first place. What makes it worse is that you are battling a corporate culture that looks down on the dreaded ‘gap in your resume.’ This is why I am so focused on staying relevant. I’m staring down the barrel at eight years of work experience and an eight year gap, which in reality might land me back in entry-level positions. (I have absolutely no regrets. I love being home. I loved working outside the home, too). Hopefully, when you are applying for positions, you get a hiring manager that sees past the gap, but if not, you will have to be diligent in crafting your experience.

Am I still boring you? I’ll admit this isn’t the most riveting topic, but it means a lot to me. I’ve spent a lot of time and money building my career and to watch it fizzle away (if only temporarily) is a hard pill to swallow. I am pretty sure I am not alone.

Do you have any suggestions on staying relevant? Am I the only one who thinks about this sort of stuff?

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.