Patience Key for Parents Returning to Work

More than 80 percent of stay-at-home moms find themselves at some point mulling over the idea of returning to the workplace. Their reasons vary. For some, the thought is driven by financial necessity -- ranging from divorce or a spouse's layoff to increased costs of raising children and managing a household. Others miss the stimulation offered by a career outside the home.

No matter what your reason for wanting to get back into the swing of things, here's some advice on how you can make the transition from home to office a breeze. Well, in fairness, that's an exaggeration. The truth is nothing is ever as easy as it sounds. And that's the first tip:

Be Patient

Prepare for ups, downs and disappointments. There are some steps you can take to make the move easier, but keep in mind that these things take time and it's unlikely that success will come overnight.

Mind the Gap

If you've been at home with kids for a few years, you probably have a sizable time gap between work and motherhood, which presents a challenge when trying to make a convincing case for your candidacy to potential employers.

Fair or not, there is plenty of snootiness toward moms who want to get back to work. That said, it's not a brick wall. Many women before you have convinced employers of their great worth and have gone on to balance work and family with aplomb.

You can and will do the same. The key is believing in yourself and your strengths, and telling any skeptical friends, pain-in-the-butt partners, or other doubters to get out of your way. Make no room for naysayers.

Instead of focusing on what you don't have, focus on what you do have. What skills and experience did you gain as a stay-at-home mom? You've probably taught, cooked, shopped, cleaned, scheduled, volunteered and a whole lot more. Create a brief section on your resume that neatly addresses how you've spent this time out of the office, as opposed to leaving the years unaccounted for. Consider a functional, rather than chronological, resume.

Don't Apologize for Time at Home

Never, ever, apologize for taking a break to focus on family. So often, I meet women at my Women For Hire career expos, and they say sheepishly, "I guess I'm really out of the career loop. I've been home with my kids for all these years."

What I'd rather hear them say, with a confident smile, is, "I feel fortunate that I was able to spend the last eight years at home raising my children. Now I'm ready and determined to redirect my focus to my career. I have so much to offer your company and I'm eager to talk about employment opportunities."

Keep in mind that unless you're working on an automated assembly line, no workplace can function effectively with just one type of person. Just as employers must embrace people of varying education, gender, ethnicity, experience, skills and ideas, so too should you be proud of the diverse perspective that you bring to an employer as a stay-at-home mom.

Identify Your Target

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