By Holly Reisem Hanna
Dear Work at Home Woman,
I have been a stay at home mom for over 12 years. I have been trying to find a job for over a year and a half with no luck. I have an extensive (over 20 years) background in health insurance. I cannot figure out why I am no longer hire-able. Is it the lapse in my employment? My age 52? I really want to find something part time as I have an 11 year old son. Do you have any suggestions for a low moral stay at home mom who is beaming with tenacity to find her second act and help contribute financially?
Your opinion is greatly appreciated and I love your website.
Warmest Regards, Kim
I know the feeling. After being stay at home for nine months with a dwindling bank account — I felt the same type of pressure. I looked high and low for legit work at home jobs, only to be lead to scams and Internet marketing schemes. Luckily, my persistence and networking efforts paid off with a part-time marketing gig which eventually gave me the platform to launch this site.
Here are some steps I suggest taking to make your career reentry a smooth one.
Revamp Your Resume:
For any job search you need to update and polish your resume. A work at home gig is a highly coveted position and employers are looking for the cream of the crop. Update and freshen your resume, references, and cover letter – make sure you stand out from the crowd. Remember to tailor your resume to each specific job that you are applying for. Now-a-days resumes are first scanned by a computer searching for keywords and phrases that were used in the classified ad or job description, make sure to incorporate these into your resume. If you’ve been out of the work force for awhile, remember to add note worthy accomplishments that may boost your creditability; volunteer experience, helping out with a family business, personal blogging, bookkeeping for your church, coaching your son’s little league team, or being treasurer of your son's Boy Scout troop. The key is not to highlight the absence of traditional work, but to address your strengths and skills. Remember you don’t have to format your resume in a chronological manner – instead use a skill based layout.
Freshen Your Skills:
If I were to reenter the workforce as a nurse, I would definitely need to take a refresher course. It’s only normal that after being out of the field for an extended period of time that your skills are going to get dull. Consider enrolling in a refresher course; many can be taken online and are relatively inexpensive. However, if you have the chance to enroll in a class where you need to be physically present – this gives you a great opportunity to network and connect with other like minded individuals. Other avenues to check out are volunteer opportunities in your niche, networking events, books in your area of expertise, and internships. Yes, many women who have been out of the workforce for an extended period of time are finding that internships are an excellent way to gain experience. While many companies may not offer formal internship positions, Carol Fishman of iRelaunch says, “If the company doesn't offer a formal program, as the trend is just starting to see an upswing, don't feel shy about proposing your own internship”.
If money is the only barrier from keeping you from getting additional training — try some of these methods for bringing in cash quickly.
Leverage Your Bonds:
While you may have lost touch with your prior professional connections, as a mom you have gained a whole new set of connections, which can be just as valuable. Talk to the other moms in your circle and let them know about the challenges you’re facing. Some maybe be able to offer advice, others may know of opportunities, while other maybe a source of support and motivation. Make sure that you check out iRelaunch.com as they offer workshops, events, articles, success stories, as well as a list of companies that offer return to work programs. Lastly, get involved on LinkedIn in a big way. Connect with former employers and employees, as well as target and follow companies you’re interested in working for. LinkedIn not only allows you to update your virtual resume, but you can showcase your work, and highlight recommendations, as well as search their huge bank of available jobs.
Where to Search:
One of the biggest challenges for women when searching for a work at home job is actually finding legitimate job postings. To help you with that I've complied a list of 19 reputable resources which can be seen here.
Applying for the Job:
After you’ve applied for a job, give it a day or so and then send a follow-up message. By doing this you can ensure that your resume made it to its correct destination, and it also shows that you are a person that takes initiative. While it is fine to periodically check in if the process is taking a while — don’t be pesky. Most importantly, keep searching for new jobs and submitting applications. According to this article on eHow, it takes the average job seeker 21 weeks to find a job. A couple of other considerations to take into account, is those who are older (55+) and those who are looking for higher paying jobs ($100,000+) tend to take even longer. The key is to be patient and persistent.
Be Ready for the Call:
Even before you get an interview you need to take time to practice your interviewing skills. One of the best ways to do this is to gather a list of common interviewing questions and practice answering them out loud. Do this over and over again until you’re comfortable answering them on the spot. Along with this you need to thoroughly research the company and know some background information on them. Many companies will ask you, “Why do you want to work for us?” and you will need to come up with a good answer. Having this background knowledge will not only help you to answer the question, but it shows the interviewer that you’re well prepared. Upon completion of the interview make sure to ask the hiring manager when they will make their final decision. This gives you a time frame on when it’s appropriate to follow up. Remember to promptly send a thank you note after the interview. Handwritten notes tend to score the most points with managers, but if they are making a decision quickly or you don’t have a physical mailing address an email will work just fine.
Since you’re applying for a telecommuting position, it’s very likely that you’ll be interviewed by telephone or Skype, if that’s the case make sure to check out these tips for a great Skype interview.
Exploring New Avenues:
Briefly above, I mentioned checking out some quick ways to make money, so that you can acquire some new training. I think exploring other career paths such as freelancing, temporary work, completing short tasks or odd jobs is a great way to get some money coming in, while gaining new skills and connections. You never know when one opportunity will lead to another. Make sure that you’re thinking outside the box and looking at all of your options. Try searching for opportunities by your skill set, not just your occupation. Your insurance and healthcare background, paired with a love of writing, social media, sales, teaching, etc. could make you the perfect candidate for another type of position within the healthcare industry.
What tips do you have for reentering the workforce? What advice or inspiration can you offer Kim?