Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Advice for Returning to Work Mums

You have devoted yourself to raising your family and have been out of the paid workforce for some time now; but the kids are getting older and it has been getting harder and harder to live on one pay (or on social security payments), so you think the time has come for you return to the paid workforce but you've heard that other women that have been in your position found it difficult in finding an employer willing to give them a go.

Does this sound like you?

Yes, it can be hard to find an employer willing to give you a go - and that is true for all unemployed persons not just for mums returning to the paid workforce. Today, I'm going to briefly discuss some of the things you can do when you've been out of the paid workforce for some time.

Firstly, let me point out one thing - my use of the term 'paid workforce'.  I do this because I value that you have developed employable skills from your personal activities just as much as you have gained them from your former employment. As a Mum Returning to the Paid Workforce, you have worked hard, in an unpaid capacity, and you need to recognise and value that you have used and developed some excellent skills that make you employable; and only need to match them to the type of work you will be seeking.

The first thing you need to work out before jumping in to looking for work is: what type of work do you want to look for?

You will be happier in your future job if you apply for work (when you are up to that stage) that you are interested in doing, rather than trying to find work based on what you think you might be able to do or what you think you might be able to get, and if you are not desperate to gain work, you have some time to plan your return.

A lot of jobseekers tell me when I first meet them that they don't know what type of work they want to do; but, when pressed I find, without fail, that the person does have some idea of what they would like to do and that it's just that they haven't given themselves permission to voice it or follow that because Mum's are used to putting their family's needs and wants ahead of their own.

But today's post is all about you, Mum. So, answer this question right now: what type of work do you want to look for?

Don't just go for 'traditional' jobs that returning to the paid workforce mums apply for. What are you good at, what are you interested in?

Know it?  Great!

Now you need to move on to the next stage by asking yourself lots of questions, doing some research and then planning to learn more about that type of work.  You have a family that will still need you, so I am guessing that you won't want to travel too far from home. Are there lots of businesses close by offering that type of work, or are they all too far away for you to get to?

Ask yourself lots of questions
For the type of work you want to do, is it just one industry or is the type of work found in multiple industries?  For example, let's say you chose Reception. Receptionists are needed across multiple industries - medical, real estate, legal, recruitment, manufacturing, the list goes on!  But if say you chose hairdressing, then you've narrowed your choice down to one industry, haven't you.


With a single industry position, you mainly need to learn about the employers and local opportunities, and, the crucial part most jobseekers don't do, learn what these employers look for in an ideal candidate. For instance, if you chose Hairdressing, and you've found that there are plenty of employers in the local area, and they frequently seek staff, you need to assess whether you would be a good fit to that type of work right now. By asking yourself lots of questions and undertaking research to find the answers to those questions, you might learn that you would need to do a Hairdressing apprenticeship in order to gain entry into this industry (if you don't already have the skills and aren't already qualified). But that is only just the beginning - what do you know about that industries requirements, like the hours you will need to work, the pay and conditions.  Do you align well with the industry and employer expectations?

If you do, then great, you could probably start applying for jobs straightaway.  Although, I would recommend you research if the industry is in a state of growth, steadiness or possible decline as all this will impact upon how competitive the application process might be, how long it might take you to gain this type of work.

But if you don't have the skills, if you can't work the normal hours, then you have some more thinking, researching and planning to do.

Maybe there is a different line of work that you would enjoy that would be more suitable? That offers the restricted hours you can work.

Once you have done all your research, it is then time to plan the steps and actions you will take. You should do this before you actually start taking actions. If you can afford it, I recommend you get professional assistance to create a resume - things change all the time, resume templates are overused and make applicants all look the same right when they need to stand out in a good, professional way, and those templates often encourage you to include details that are no longer required because they can cause an employer to make a 'no' decision without their meeting you, or some of the details having to be included are not required in your country, for your industry, for your ability level - which weakens your application.

You need to use modern and professional jobsearch techniques and resources so that you gain a competitive edge, but most of all, you also need to identify and value that you do possess skills, you are employable and showcase those abilities of yours so that it generates employer interest. If you are out of touch with modern and professional techniques and resources, don't stumble along blindly; you need to either get the help or do a lot more research to bring you up to speed - and there is nothing more downing than sending off hundreds of applications that get you nowhere and still be looking six months, a year down the track.

So, while you are waiting for success to come, perhaps also find ways to build your skill currency, like doing a relevant course, doing some related voluntary work for a short while.

I hope you can see, there is a lot more to jobsearching than just applying to job vacancies if you want quick results. Jobsearching isn't always easy and it isn't much fun, but putting in the right time, effort and commitment will ultimately pay off by giving you the outcome you desire - the job you want.

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