It’s no surprise that with the economy in turmoil and layoffs or cutbacks affecting so many American families, many stay-at-home moms have decided it may be time to re-enter the workforce. Some have little to no outside work experience and some are finding themselves ready to re-enter the mainstream work environment after several years at home raising their children.
It can be overwhelming, if not frightening, to think about creating a resume, conducting a job search and interviewing for a job when you do not have any “traditional” work experience or the experience you obtained several years ago seems “irrelevant” now.
Whether you’re looking to round out your life and add to the family income by taking on part-time work, or you’re ready to return to – or begin – your full-time career, there are unique challenges inherent in returning to the workforce after an extended absence. With the help of the experts at Hire My Mom, and Momentum Resources, the Interview Angel team is launching a series of articles to support and guide stay-at-home moms in their job searches.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for job seeking, there are universally acknowledged practices that help candidates perform more effectively, including networking – reaching out to those in your professional and social circles to talk about what you have to offer an employer, and ask about opportunities, events, or people they may know of that can help you reach these goals.
It’s estimated that up to 80% of job openings are never advertised to the public, but rather are broadcast by word of mouth. For example: the hiring manager mentions the position to his neighbor, who in turn tells his secretary, whose good friend happens to be the perfect candidate. Hiring managers appreciate this type of hire because the candidate comes ‘recommended’ by a trusted source. You can see, then, why developing and utilizing your network is so important!
As a stay-at-home-mom, you may think that you have no network to reach out to, or that you have no natural opportunities to network in your daily routine. Luckily, nothing could be further from the truth!
Your network is defined as everyone you know, including friends, family, neighbors, community members, former classmates, members of your church or other organizations, your children’s friends’ parents, people you do business with – your hairdresser, postman, babysitter, vet, etc. And, although you don’t know them directly, your network also includes everyone these friends and acquaintances know – these people are your ‘extended’ network.
Although there are countless networking events and groups to be found in almost every city, and they certainly have tremendous value, the days are long past when networking was conducted only in professional circles, at work events, or cocktail parties. Today, informal networking can, and does, happen anywhere, with literally everyone you encounter.
As Jill Lemon of Momentum Resources, Inc. puts it, “There is no wrong time to network! Kids’ birthday parties, Starbucks, the park, the dentist’s office… all networking really is, is talking to people, telling them about what you are looking for and what you have to offer.”
One effective way to do this, she says, is with an elevator speech. This is basically a brief – 30 second or so – prepared synopsis of who you are, what you have to offer and what you’re looking for.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for an introduction or a contact at a company,” she stresses. “At the same time, it’s really important to offer your services to or help in return those you network with. Follow up is absolutely critical. Without follow up, you destroy your credibility.”
It’s important to keep copies of your current resume and contact cards (like business cards, but with your name, contact information, and possibly a short professional tagline such as “Excellence in medical transcription”) in your car or bag to hand out if the opportunity arises.
Networking is an invaluable way to spread the word about your job search, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Start with the people you are most comfortable with, and set a goal, for example, that you will email two people and make two phone calls a day to talk about your job search. Keep a log of contacts you’ve spoken with, what the outcome was, and your follow up efforts. And be sure to make appropriate “Thank You” gestures to those who offer their support.
Dawn Walker and Valorie Margalit, Interview Angel team members and moms.