I'm a Mom and a Career Coach: Here Are 5 Tips for Getting Back into the Workforce

As if distance learning and social isolation weren't enough, the pandemic has forced many parents—especially moms—to reassess their careers. Whether you've lost a job or need a change, here's my advice on navigating your next move.

An illustration of a mom in front of a black board.
Photo: Illustration: Kailey Whitman.

The pandemic has changed the workforce dramatically, leaving many parents out of a job. And it's no secret moms have been disproportionately affected. This job loss has certainly added urgency to an already stressful time—on top of dealing with finding the right child care and virtual learning.

The best approaches to landing a new job have changed during the pandemic and looking ahead into a post-COVID world. But with a few adjustments, you can find your next job (and even a better one!) if that's your goal. Whether you're re-entering the workforce or seeking a job change, here are five tips to get you back in the game.

Assess Your Career Goals

The last year has brought a renewed focus on the things that are most important to us. This perspective shift may have you asking yourself what you really want from your career. This can be a great time to re-evaluate the most critical elements you expect in your next job. Consider the type of work that is most meaningful for you. Think about things like team dynamics and work schedule. Make a list of the items you are willing to negotiate and those you will not. This can give you a blueprint to guide your job search.

Embrace a New Way to Network

Networking has changed. No longer can you attend a local networking event or casually meet someone for coffee. We are not meeting people organically, so we need to be more deliberate. Get comfortable connecting online. The skills you need to network in person are the same skills you'll use virtually, just on a different platform. Go for it!

Reach out to your existing network virtually. Ask for introductions to others that you'd like to add to your network. And don't be afraid to reach out to someone you are interested to meet even if you don't have a personal connection. Approach the introduction with the desire for genuine connection. Send them an email or a message via LinkedIn. Keep it short and simple. Introduce yourself and ask for a short virtual meeting to connect to expand both of your networks. You'll find most people are open to mutual networking and may even appreciate that you reached out first.

Polish Your Online Presence

There's no avoiding it: you'll need to have an online presence to be competitive in today's market. You can have a great resume, but if no one can see it, it will be hard to compete. Ensure that your social media profiles present the information and the image you want to portray. Your LinkedIn profile should be accurate and complete. (Keep in mind, LinkedIn recently added "Stay-at-Home Mom," "Stay-at-Home Dad," and "Stay-at-Home Parent" job titles.)

Refresh Your Skills or Get New Ones

Consider making the most of a pause in your career by taking a class, earning a certification, or completing a degree. Many training providers and educational institutions offer free or reduced cost courses right now. The opportunities are bountiful for refreshing your skills or learning new ones.

After you've identified what you are searching for in your next job, ask yourself what additional training may make you more competitive. Target training to enhance those qualifications. Even if you have experience in a specific area, training can show initiative and validate that you know what you're doing.

Online training providers like Skillshare and Udemy offer thousands of virtual courses in a variety of subjects and skill categories. It's also a good idea to check with professional associations, which can offer training or direct you to specific training providers that specialize in your field.

Stay Confident

Getting back in the game and finding fulfilling work doesn't have to be a mystery, but it can feel overwhelming to start over. Your most important tool is your confidence. When you want others to be confident in your abilities, you must believe in yourself and your abilities first.

Start to feed your confidence by assessing your key strengths and the things you want in this next stage. Get clear on your vision for your career and lean into your talents. Focus on the things you can control and remind yourself often what you bring to the roles you are applying for.

When you already have points jotted down for all these areas, the interview process tends to be easier. You'll feel more comfortable answering an interviewer's questions, proving your qualifications, and inspiring their confidence in you.

You can get back in the game and even re-energize your career post-pandemic. Good luck!

Nicky Espinosa is a former health care executive turned career coach, motivational speaker, and writer. She specializes in building confidence through unapologetic authenticity.

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