Ask The Work Buzz! Full-time mom returning to work

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QuestionsJudi writes:
“I am 54, recently divorced and desperately looking for work. I have a lot of job experience, however, I spent more of my adult years raising my children. I have been diligently applying for work for about 12 weeks and have not been offered one position. I’ve adjusted my resume so I don’t apply for jobs I’m not qualified for. At the same time, jobs I am qualified for don’t pay enough to pay my rent. I have to say this is the most frustrating experience I’ve ever endured, as my credit score dips lower and lower because I’m unable to pay even minimum payments on my credit cards.”


What you are going through is not uncommon. Countless people have been faced with this same dilemma.  People returning to the workforce after an absence have multiple worries: “Will I have to prove myself all over again?” “How do I explain the gap in employment?” “What if I lack the required skills or education?”

It sounds like you are driven and motivated, but right now job seekers need all the help they can get. You want make sure you are looking at all your possibilities … including some you might not have thought of. Here are several things you can do to get your foot in the door or start earning a paycheck while developing skills to add to your resume:

1. Maximize your cover letter and resume. Your cover letter highlights your key accomplishments and gives you an opportunity to answer any questions about an employment gap. Put your resume into a functional format (click for an example) that highlights your skills instead of a chronological one that lists your jobs starting with the most recent.

2. Network. Join professional networking sites like Brightfuse and LinkedIn. Look for groups to join that reflect your background or job interest. (For example, search the term “mom”.) The more you network, the more likely you are to meet people who are in a similar situation … or who have been in your situation and are now hiring.

3. Stay informed. Stay abreast of new trends, technology and developments in your industry by attending seminars and courses to prove your time off doesn’t put you at a disadvantage. Research the company, job or industry BEFORE you apply to a job and incorporate that information into each cover letter.

4. Remain open to all possibilities, even if the job title, salary and benefits may not be exactly what you were seeking. Holiday hiring season is in full swing. Try searching using the terms “seasonal” or “holiday.” Even though there are fewer openings this year and these jobs are typically temporary, there are employers who extend permanent offers to seasonal staff. Or consider direct sales like Avon, Stella and Dot or Wine Shop at Home.

5. Work with a professional. Recruiters at staffing firms like Robert Half and Kelly Services have their fingers on the pulse of the job market and work with employers to fill all types of jobs. They can also provide useful feedback on your resume and interview skills.

Click on these links for some additional articles that might be helpful to you:

It’s been 10 years since my last job search

Worried about gaps on your resume?ésumé/?siteid=cbworkbuzz

Dealing with gaps in your resume and cover letter

Can you relate to Judith’s story? What advice would you give her?

  1. I can relate to Judi’s story although I have not been able to get my divorce yet. The estranged did leave, stop paying rent and now we are getting evicted. I’ve even tried selling things but with no luck and we will be forced to put things in storage. I have no idea where we will live since many places want so much to move in and they do credit checks I won’t pass due to a low score from unpaid bills and no job. I have two college age daughters who are out of work as well. One is only offered seasonal work at her college bookstore. We are living off of food stamps and her excess college funds which doesn’t amount to much.

  2. It’s a hard time out there, with unemployment at record highs. With excellent experience, I’m still finding it tough to even get an interview. The alternative seems to be to take my talents and try to start a business, but of course that’s a slow build as you try to get the right clients. Good luck with your job search!

  3. I can sure appreciate Judi’s position. Finding work can be very difficult for anyone. For those re-entering the work force it can be even more difficult. Great advise in the column and I hope that she takes it. I’ve worked with many women re-entering the work force and have found that if they focus on their strengths and an environment they’d like to be in, it helps them be more confident and driven. I’ll be happy to chat with her at 630-301-4517 if she’d like more help.

  4. The U.S. Census Bureau will be hiring for the 2010 census–go to the website to find out more. You will have to take a test–not difficult for college grads or some college experience. There is a practice test on the site. Good luck–I know it is tough out there.

  5. Judi is not alone. There are so many moms who are contemplating a return-to-work and dealing with fear, guilt and many of the concerns addressed here. That’s why we built a global social network – – for moms who need free advice, support and solutions to empower then with tools to help them feel fulfilled personally and professionally.

  6. I hope you do well, Judi. I am in a similar situation after staying home with my children (now 11 & 9). I have found it difficult for others to understand why I do not have “work experience” for those years. I do have years of volunteer experience,prior paid work experience,and a degree, but that does not seem to counter lapse in time. Any advice for presenting that? I do not want to take a job that will not pay for my childcare.

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