Getting a job in financial services is a challenge for just about everyone these days, but for women who took time off to raise a family, the prospect of re-entering the financial markets workforce can be downright daunting.
Holly O’Driscoll stayed at home for nearly 20 years at home raising her three children. To prepare herself for re-entry into the workforce, she spent nine months strategizing. She blogged, networked with local sources, took classes at a university and volunteered with a local entrepreneur’s group to position herself and build her confidence to start searching for work.
Last May, she was hired as a marketing specialist for a sales performance company, a position she apparently loves very much.
For millions of you moms who’ve taken a couple of years – or decades – off from work to raise your kids, O’Driscoll’s story could be your story.
But like most journeys in life, you need a plan or at least a GPS on how to re-enter a workforce that may have changed considerably since you were last there.
“Getting back into the workforce after timeout for raising a family takes some advanced planning to be most successful,” Lynne Sarikas, director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University, tells eFinancialCareers.
Here are some suggestions for getting back in the workforce:
Network 21st Century Style
“The definition of networking has changed substantially,” Allison O’Kelly, founder and CEO of Mom Corps, tells eFinancialCareers. “You don’t have
to put on a power suit and attend a sometimes awkward luncheon or cocktail
reception in order to collect business cards and contacts. Some of today’s
best networking takes place at the soccer field with parents of your
children’s friends, over LinkedIn and Facebook with other working parents
groups and while volunteering in your community.”
Be Strategic in Building Your Social Network
Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, vice president and managing director of Apollo Research Institute, which is affiliated with the parent company of some for-profit universities, advises mothers to be creative in broadening their social networks. She suggests joining local work out groups where people are employed at firms they are interested in, networking with parents of their children’s friends and hosting neighborhood or apartment parties to get to know their neighbors.
“Recruiters still say your network is everything and a key factor to
securing jobs 85 percent of the time,” she says. “Host a job hunting party and invite a recruiter to come and critique
In addition, she suggests taking practical first steps toward employment, such as volunteering at places you are targeting for work, taking classes at local universities that might enhance your marketability, reaching out to key recruiters at large staffing firms that match
your career goals, creating a list of firms where you want to work and
reviewing their job boards and openings.
Consider easing yourself into full-time employment. “If you have the
professional skills, experience and drive, getting your foot in the door
with a company where you can ‘test each other out’ exponentially increases
the chances of your finding a permanent placement,” says O’Kelly. “This gives you the
opportunity to re-acclimate and build your resume, and often provides the
flexibility you may need.”
“The biggest challenge we see for moms re-entering the workforce is
projecting confidence in interviews in what they have accomplished
professionally,” says O’Kelly. She also suggests paying attention to appearance.
“Don't pull out a
suit from 10 years prior that is out of style,” she says. “Find out what the dress code
is at a potential employer and buy a new outfit. That alone can really
boost your confidence.”
Prepare Yourself Mentally
“You’ll need to make a mental shift to work being
another top priority,” says O'Kelly. “You may need to miss school events, non-critical
doctor’s appointments and child firsts. Prepare yourself and make sure
you are comfortable with this transition. Of course, there will be times
that familial needs trump work, but commitment to your job needs is a