If you've taken any length of time off from work (a paying job) to be a mom, or if you altered your career-path to make family time more manageable, you might have a few fears about returning to the workforce, particularly when it comes to how marketable you still are. Here are some top fears you may have:
· your experience is outdated
· you have too large of a gap in your resume
· you are no longer corporate material
· your skills are limited
Is this really true or simply how we perceive ourselves?
Unfortunately, it's often a little bit of both. If you are or were a stay-at-home mom, or a mom who took a part-time or generic job out of convenience, you probably are outdated compared to those who continued on a full-time career path.
That doesn't have to mean you are unmarketable. Nor does it mean you’re stuck with a useless resume. How can you improve your professional portfolio?
· Take a class or two. Great options to start with: MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are online courses attended by thousands of people via the Internet. MOOCs are almost always free.
· Ask for a brief internship at a company you'd like to work for. If you want an internship, don't be shy. Do your homework on local companies. (Small companies often offer the best opportunities.) Ask and negotiate for an internship. They'll get a free worker, you'll get a free education, be able to add to your resume and possibly have a job offer at the end of the internship. If that doesn't happen, intern at another company.
· Volunteer. Volunteering is not only good for the community, it's good for you, emotionally and in the business realm--if you pick the right opportunity. To spruce up your resume, choose a position that compliments your future career plans. For example, if you want to work in public relations you could volunteer as a fundraising coordinator. An accountant? Volunteer as the treasurer for your child's PTA or a local church.
· Consider your home skills. I don't mean turn your resume into a domestic thesaurus. (Helping your children pick out nice clothes does not translate to fashion designer. Stopping sibling rivalry does not make you a relationship therapist. You get the point.) However, many moms underestimate the skills they use every day. In this case, it's a matter of listing your skills set rather than creating a job label. For example, many moms become great at organizing, problem-solving, handling finances, budgeting, etc.) If your best skills match the job you're seeking include them. (I'm currently working on a post that displays various types of resume styles including one that focuses on skills and accomplishments rather than specific employment.)
· Join organizations. Nothing works better than social networking (the old-fashioned kind). Find an organization, a club, an association--anything that relates to your chosen field. Join AND attend. Yes, meet real people, in person. Get to know them, their businesses, let them know about your strengths. Volunteer for a position within the organization that demonstrates or improves your skills. Offer to intern or freelance for a potential employer.
· The new social networking. You can't deny the power of the internet. Consider career sites such as Linkedin. If you're using the web to gain employment, remember your reputation matters. Do your best to save the web for professional activity and posts.
· Freelance. Thanks to the web, freelancing opportunities are available for many fields. Again, you might start out working for peanuts, but eventually if your work is good, you should be able to build up a following or at least be able to update your employment status on your resume.
· Return to School. Many colleges offer classes on-line making it easier to earn or upgrade your degree. If you have the time and resources and want to start anew, talk to a school advisor about options. Free scholarships.