Now that the kids are in school and more independent, do you find yourself thinking more about a purpose beyond your family role? Or perhaps the rising cost of living has you thinking about the need to pursue your career aspirations, and maybe advance in your career? You are not alone. But with the time that you have spent away from the workforce, you may be wondering whether employers will want to hire you after a long time off.
A study in the Harvard Business Review suggests your fears may be justified. Employers are half as likely to interview stay-at-home parents compared to laid-off parents and a third as likely to interview stay-at-home-parents over employed ones. Why so?
Some employers fear that, after years away from work, your skills may be rusty or outdated.
Does this mean that if you’ve been outside the workforce for years, there is no chance of returning and you shouldn’t even try?
The answer is no, and no again!
The key to a successful return to work is thorough, well-thought-out preparation.
If you have an established professional career as a nurse or a legal assistant, resuming your career post-children may need less preparation. For other professions, you may first require skilling or upskilling to compete in today’s job market. Additionally, moms may need to seek out positions that offer flexible work arrangements and other supports to help them balance work and family.
Dads, this applies to you, too. The number of stay-at-home dads has increased in recent decades, according to Statistics Canada.
In this article, you'll learn how post-secondary education at a career college can equip stay-at-home moms and dads with the skills they need to succeed in today’s job market. You’ll learn or update required industry trends and technology and develop the necessary skills to meet current employment requirements. These skills will help you land your first job after a long break!
The Benefits of Post-Secondary Education for Moms
Let’s outline how post-secondary education can help you ease your path back to a successful career:
- Developing existing skills and acquiring new ones. By earning a diploma in a specific field, you can brush up on what you already know and gain new skills and knowledge that are highly sought after by employers. This increases your value in the job market and offers opportunities for career advancement and higher earning potential.
- Getting support from a community of like-minded people. Post-secondary education offers support from advisors, instructors, students, and more. This community can provide you with a wealth of resources, including advice on time management, study tips, and emotional support. You can also benefit from networking opportunities, connecting with other professionals in the field, and learning from experienced mentors.
- Diving into the working atmosphere. Most career college diplomas offer a practicum placement at the end of your course, helping you develop real-world career skills. Additionally, a practicum will allow you to test-run your new schedule before returning to a permanent 9-5.
Fast-Track Diploma Programs for Moms
One of the key benefits that a career college education can give you is a fast-track learning process that caters to the needs of a busy mom while allowing you to master new skills efficiently.
For example, Sundance College offers fast-track diploma programs in a variety of in-demand career-focused fields, including business, health, legal, and technology, which in most cases can be completed in about a year:
- Accounting, Tax, and Payroll Program
- Medical Office Administration-Health Unit Coordinator Program
- Digital Marketing and Social Media Management Program
- Pharmacy Assistant Program
- Addictions & Community Health Program
- Professional Legal Assistant Program
- Supply Chain Management Professional Program
We enhance our programs with hands-on training and practicum placements in a work environment. As a result, stay-at-home parents who wish to re-enter the workforce are immersed in the practical aspects of their chosen field, acquiring valuable experience that makes them stand out on the job market.
Whether you’re looking to start a new career or resume your existing one, fast-track diploma programs offer a convenient and effective path to achieving your goals.
What Else Can a Career College Help You With
Choosing the right career college can make a significant difference in your job search. Apart from helping you refresh your experience and develop new skills, Career Services specialists employed by your college can help you write a strong resume, apply job search strategies, and prepare for interviews.
Crafting an Effective Resume and Cover Letter
Your resume and cover letter are your first opportunity to make a good impression on potential employers. That's why it's essential to make these documents clear and concise. Your Career Services team can teach you how to:
- Create a strong CV and cover letter that highlights your strengths and accomplishments. You’ll also learn to use keywords and action verbs to make your resume stand out.
- Identify and highlight relevant experiences and achievements, showcasing your transferable skills and accomplishments to potential employers.
- Explain the employment gap on your resume in a way that emphasizes the valuable skills and experience you gained while taking care of your family.
- Customize your resume and cover letter for each job application. You'll learn how to research the company and the job posting to tailor your documents to the employer's specific needs.
By using your college’s Career Services, you’ll become better equipped to land the job you want and advance in your career.
Networking and Job Search Strategies
In today's competitive job market, having a robust professional network and effective job search strategies can be immensely helpful for moms and dads resuming their careers after a break. Career Services experts will assist students with networking and job searching, including:
- Expanding your professional contacts to keep your finger on the pulse of job opportunities. Career Services specialists can teach you how to present yourself at industry events, join professional organizations, and connect with people in your field through social media.
- Utilizing online job boards and social media platforms. Online job boards and social media platforms are powerful tools for job seekers, including stay-at-home parents. Websites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed can help you find job openings, research potential employers, and apply online. Your college’s Career Services team will help you update your online profile and teach you how to use keywords to increase your chances of being found.
- Reaching out to former colleagues and contacts. Let your former colleagues, classmates, friends who are working parents, etc., know you're looking for new opportunities. They can refer you to job openings or provide valuable insights into your industry.
- Attending job fairs. Career Services consultants can help you come to these events well-prepared and aware of how to talk about your skills and experience. Even if you don't land a job right away, attending job fairs and networking events can lead you to make valuable connections that could pay off in the future.
Preparing for Interviews
Once you get your first callbacks from recruiters, it’s time to start preparing for interviews. Career Services will lead you by hand through the following steps:
- Researching the company and position. Your Career Services team will tell you what to pay attention to while exploring the company's website, and how to evaluate the position's requirements and understand whether your skills and experience align with them. Then, together with Career Services, you can prepare intelligent questions to ask during the interview, which will demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm for the role.
- Practicing responses to common interview questions. Practice makes perfect. With Career Services, you can prepare responses to common interview questions using, for instance, the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result). This will help you structure your answers and keep your responses concise and focused on the question asked.
- Addressing gaps in employment history. Career Services will train you to frame the gaps in your employment history to your advantage. You can work on a clear explanation of how you have used that time to improve your skills and knowledge. Volunteer work, freelancing, or continuing education courses you have taken during your time off are all strong examples to mention.
- Highlighting transferable skills you’ve gained while raising kids. With the help of Career Services, you can identify the skills you’ve developed while staying at home, such as time management, multitasking, problem-solving, and communication – and learn how to pitch them to your potential employers!
Additional Tips for Re-Entering the Workforce After Being a Stay-at-Home Mom
Before receiving the coveted job offer, it makes sense to carry out some extra research and preparation in terms of:
Negotiating Salary and Benefits
As a stay-at-home parent going back to work after many years off, you may feel the urge to undervalue yourself, especially when it comes to your salary. Here are some tips for negotiating with confidence:
- Research salary ranges for similar roles in your industry to understand how much your time is worth.
- Practice your negotiation skills, with help from the Career Services team. Plan out how you’ll explain what you want, why you deserve it, and the value you’ll bring to the company.
- Discuss flexible work arrangements, if needed, to balance your work and family life. For example, consider requesting a flexible schedule or the ability to work from home part-time if that suits your lifestyle.
- Be open to alternative compensation and benefits packages, including health insurance, retirement plans, vacation time, and training opportunities. These benefits can add up to a significant value and help you achieve a better work-life balance.
Managing the Transition Back to Work
Additionally, it’s worthwhile to take the time to think about how you can make your transition back to work after a long absence smoother, more manageable, and less stressful for your family. Here’s our shortlist of recommendations to consider:
- Set realistic expectations about your abilities and the demands of your job. Start by setting achievable goals and timelines for yourself and your family members and be patient as you adjust to your new routine.
- Test the childcare arrangements once you get a job offer to ensure they are practical and workable. This will help you avoid surprises or difficulties when starting your new job.
- Balance work and family responsibilities by prioritizing your primary tasks and delegating secondary tasks to others when possible.
- Seek support from family, friends, and coworkers. Join support groups or network with other parents who have gone through the same transition.
- Prioritize self-care and stress management, making time for exercise, relaxation, and other activities that help you de-stress. Remember to take breaks and protect your mental and physical health.
Sundance College as Your Trusted Partner in Career Education
With the proper preparation and support, you can smoothly transition back into the workforce and make your family proud. Enrolling in a career college is the best way to upgrade your skills, prepare for the job search process, and land your dream job. With fast-track programs provided by industry-experienced instructors, on-campus and online learning options, flexible schedules, and practicum opportunities, Sundance College can help you re-enter the workforce with the skills employers are demanding.
Why not start right now?
If you are one of the tens of thousands of people who dream about entering or re-entering the workforce after a career break, know that we have many success stories of stay-at-home moms and dads who landed their dream jobs after earning their career diplomas. Contact our advisors today and learn more about how to turn your career dreams into reality!