Few things in life are as life altering as having baby. Not only does it mess with the perfect (or imperfect) order in life, it also causes a seismic shift in priorities almost overnight. You may find that the plans you made regarding work and career are now completely irrelevant in light of your new reality.
While taking a three month, or even three-week parental leave from work is not an option for many people, some opt to take an even longer or indefinite parental break from work.
Finding a job after an extended leave can be particularly challenging. Not only do you need to account for the gap in your work history, you also need to regain your confidence and brush off skills you haven’t used in a while. The longer you’ve been out of work, the harder it is. But it’s not impossible. With a little hard work, diligence and self-confidence, you’re sure to find something that suits you eventually. Here’s how to get back into the game.
ReassessAs mentioned before, having a kid changes things. You need to decide if your goals have changed since becoming a parent. For instance, is a job that requires 12-hour days and frequent business trips still going to work for you? Or do you need something more flexible that will enable you to come in late sometimes or leave early when your child is sick or has a special event you need to attend.
Keep in mind that at this point in the game, you don’t necessarily hold many cards in your favor. There are many working parents who have paid their dues in order to have earned that flexibility. So you might need to make some concessions at first, such as working part-time or accepting a wage that’s less than what you’re used to.
Of course, the other variable is childcare. At first you may be paying almost as much in childcare as you’re making. The key is to know if your new job will eventually lead to a better opportunity, either career-wise or financially.
The other thing to ask yourself is if you really want to be doing the same thing. Dig deep to get an honest idea of what you really want. Maybe you should be going back to school rather than work. Or maybe you should be exploring other avenues that could lead you to a more fulfilling vocation.
Regain Your ConfidenceSometimes the hardest part of finding a job after you’ve been out for a while is your own lack of confidence. Work gives you constant validation, so you’re rarely having to question whether you can do the job or not. The work speaks for itself. But without it, the questions and self-doubts start to creep in.
One of the best ways to combat this is to stay in the game. Keep in touch with business colleagues and try to maintain a strong network, both online and off. Stay abreast of current trends in your industry and attend networking events. Enlist friends and family for moral support.
Finding a JobTime to dust off your network and start putting it to good use (although, hopefully you’ve been active with your network during your break). Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for a job and try to get introductions at companies you’re interested in.
Update your resume and LinkedIn page so that it highlights current relevant experience. If you haven’t worked in a while, your cover letter is especially useful for selling yourself in a way that your resume can’t. Focus mostly on promoting recent skills and briefly touch on any concerns an employer might have about your employment gap.
You could also try to beef up your resume by volunteering or doing pro bono work. There are several agencies that can help you find many non-profits in need. Temp and freelance staffing agencies are also an excellent way to get your foot back in the door.
Whatever you decide to do, try not to let your absence from work define you. Focus on the present and the accomplishments, enthusiasm and experience you have to offer now rather than dwelling on your gap in employment.
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