If you’re looking to return to work for the first time in a while, we’ve got you covered. Find out everything you need to know about how to get a job after being a stay-at-home parent.
As any parent will tell you, days spent at home looking after a child can be just as full-on as any other full-time job. It can be busy, rewarding, stressful, fun, and everything in between. Yet the time may come when you want to get a job after being a stay-at-home parent.
Returning to the workplace after even a short time away can seem a little daunting. But don’t worry, with a bit of prep, you’ll be back at it in no time! In this post, we’ve outlined some of the things you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Why return to work?
Being a parent is often immensely fulfilling. Watching your child grow, learn, and flourish under your care is like nothing else. Many parents choose to stay at home to raise their child or children, at least for a while. However, there are many reasons people choose to return to work.
For some stay-at-home parents, you might decide a job is the right thing to do once your child enters education. For others, it could be a financial need that drives the decision. In some instances, you might simply miss many of the aspects that come with working life.
Whatever the reasons, you’re allowed to have confidence in your decision.
Once you have decided to get a job after being a stay-at-home parent, you need to prepare for the process ahead. In many ways, it’s a similar one to changing from one career to another. However, from a standing start, it can take a while to get up to speed.
Before you begin your search
No matter how long it’s been since you last worked, re-entering the job market can seem like a bit of a daunting prospect. But with the right preparation, you’ll soon be firing on all cylinders again.
Before you get started with applying for jobs, there are a few things you should do to make the process smoother. Not only can these help you get back into the swing of things, but they can increase your chances of success.
Work on your CV
Your CV is one of the most important parts of the application process, so it’s worth spending time making it as strong as possible. As well as making sure to include all of your relevant skills and experience, you’ll want to check it for spelling and grammar errors.
Try and think about what potential employers want to see from your CV. You can always look at examples online that are relevant to your profession.
It’s also worthwhile looking at job adverts for your desired position so your CV will reflect some of the language used there. You can use this time to spot areas where you may want to improve your skills to add more content to your CV, as well as changing the format of it.
It’s far easier to find a job if you already have some industry connections. With your name out there, you’re more likely to hear about relevant positions. Similarly, it means you can connect with people who can help you find the right role.
Effective networking is also beneficial when you start your new job. It helps you build professional relationships and opens up new opportunities.
Before you start your search, however, you should look to sites such as LinkedIn to build your online presence.
Of course, you don’t have to limit your efforts to online activities. Put the word out on your existing network that you’re looking for a job and contact previous co-workers to see whether there are any relevant positions available.
Craft a cover letter
Like your CV, your cover letter is one of the most essential documents during your application. A strong cover letter can grab the attention of potential employers, giving you the chance to stand out from the crowd.
Spend some time thinking about what you want your letter to say. Explore some of your reasons for returning to work, as well as some of your skills that are most relevant to your job search.
Build a website
If you’re feeling particularly tech-savvy, a personal website can be a great way to showcase your talents.
As well as outlining your experience and portfolio, building your website can be a great way to demonstrate some of your digital skills. It’s particularly useful if you’re planning to resume work as a freelancer.
Set your goals
When you’re trying to get a job after being a stay-at-home parent, it’s important to outline what you’re hoping to achieve with your efforts.
Finding a new role is just the start – do you want to work full-time? Are you looking for contract work? Would you consider a freelance position? Where do you want to be in a few years’ time?
As well as helping you focus your job search on the right areas, answering these questions also helps when you’re talking with fellow professionals. Thinking about your aims in advance means you can have clear and concise answers if you’re asked about it.
Bridging the gap
Depending on how long it’s been since you last worked in a professional capacity, you might feel a bit rusty. This can sometimes make it harder to find something suitable when you’re trying to get a job after being a stay-at-home parent. However, there are ways you can get back up to speed.
It’s natural to feel like there are gaps in your knowledge at this time. After all, many industries move at a fairly rapid pace.
One of the most common questions about how to get a job after being a stay-at-home parent is what to put on your CV. Some people feel the need to fiddle the dates, make up reasons for the gap, or try and ‘sell’ their parenting skills.
It’s best to keep things simple here. Outline the dates you’ve been a stay-at-home parent and write something along the lines of ‘I took a career break to look after my children.’
If you want to start building your practical skills while you’re searching for a job, volunteering is a great place to start. You can get involved with all sorts of organisations and causes, gathering valuable experience while you do so.
Your voluntary efforts don’t necessarily have to be relevant to your career, although it can help if they are.
Ultimately, you’re showing potential employees that you’re a self-starter who’s not afraid of getting stuck in. Additionally, it helps you get used to a structured way of working again, and can boost your self-confidence.
If you’re interested in working with refugees, our course on volunteering with refugees can help you understand how you can support the linguistic and social needs of others.
Courses and qualifications
There’s never a bad time to upskill and develop your knowledge. When you’re on the hunt for a new job, taking a course or qualification can give you momentum, as well as boosting your CV.
Of course, at FutureLearn, we’re specialists when it comes to online courses. So, whether you’re looking for future proof skills or want to get started with how to learn online, we’ve got you covered. You can find courses that last a matter of weeks, as well as those that present a longer-term learning opportunity.
Try and think about the industry you’re joining and what skills and qualifications are relevant. From here, you can find courses that match your needs.
If you’re still getting up to speed with the latest industry trends, conferences and expos can be a great way of getting first-hand information. They’re also excellent ways of networking and meeting fellow professionals.
At the moment, the COVID-19 pandemic is preventing the majority of industry events from occurring in-person. However, many have switched to an online platform, offering live streams and seminars.
So, you can keep up-to-date with what’s going on from the comfort of your own home.
As well as boosting your knowledge of specific areas, conferences also give you something to talk about during interviews. You can show off what you’ve learned, and demonstrate that you’re actively staying involved with your chosen field.
One of the best ways of boosting your CV when trying to get a job after being a stay-at-home parent is to get experience.
Freelancing and contract roles can be an incredibly useful way of doing so. If you already have the skills needed to do the job, freelance projects are a great way of proving that.
There are many different freelancing sites you can use, such as Fiverr, Upwork, and PeoplePerHour. Create a profile, pitch for jobs, and start building your portfolio.
Applying and interviewing
So, now that you’ve bridged any gaps in your skills and done the groundwork for finding a job, it’s time to start your search in earnest.
This step can seem challenging at first, especially if you’ve not done it for a while. Applications may go unanswered, and interviews may come to nothing. But don’t be disheartened, this is all part of the process.
Here are some ways that you can make the application and interview stages as productive as possible:
Tailor your approach
No two job roles are exactly the same – different organisations require slightly different skills and experience.
As such, you need to tailor your applications to each job you’re applying for. By doing so, you’ll not only match their requirements as closely as possible, but you’ll also prove you’ve thought about your application.
You want to make sure that your CV and cover letter both highlight the relevant skills and experience the role requires.
Go through the job posting and make sure that you mention everything they ask for. If you want some more tips, our course on writing applications is the ideal place to start.
Job interviews can be nerve-wracking. And, if you’re trying to get a job after being a stay-at-home parent, it could have been a while since your last one. Preparation is always going to be important, and more so if you’re out of practice.
To start with, check out our course on how to succeed at interviews.
It helps you with many of the different elements that are needed for a strong interview. You can also spend time practising your answers. Remember, during the pandemic, phone and video interviews are popular, so make sure your tech knowledge is up to scratch.
Once you’ve had an interview, it’s worth reflecting on how the process went. Were there any questions that took you by surprise? Could you have given a better answer to something? Should you have asked some more relevant questions?
Interviews often take a bit of practice. Even if you get the first job you interview for, it’s useful to know what went right and wrong. In doing so, you’ll be better prepared for the next one that comes along.
Although the interview is the time where you want to make a good impression, there are other opportunities to show what a good candidate you are.
Make sure to follow up on your interview with a note of thanks for their time. Keep it friendly but professional, mention the position you applied for and the date, and let them know you’re eager to hear about the next steps.
You can also send a follow up to your applications if you think it’s appropriate. Hiring managers are often busy, so it can be a great idea to put yourself at the front of their minds.
Applying for new jobs is often a long process. If you’re trying to get a new job after being a stay-at-home parent, make sure not to be too hard on yourself. By being patient and methodical in your approach, you’ll soon find the role that’s the right fit for you.
As your job search continues, you can focus on improving the skills you already have, as well as developing some new in-demand skills.
What skills are in demand?
Whenever you’re looking to find a new job role, it can be highly beneficial to have some of the skills that employers most often look for.
Earlier this year, LinkedIn released its list of some of the most in-demand skills. These are split into soft and hard skills. If you’re trying to get a job after being a stay-at-home parent, we’ve picked out some that might help in your search:
Soft skills are those abilities that are hard to measure. They relate to cognitive abilities, as well as behaviours and thought patterns. Here are some of the most valuable ones, as well as some courses that can help you learn these skills:
The ability to think outside the box is one that’s useful in so many situations. Businesses of all kinds are looking for people who can bring innovation and enterprise.
There are many ways in which you can show your creative thinking. Our course on creative problem solving looks at some of the ways you can implement it. Similarly, this one on working with people to solve problems focuses on digital creativity.
In most professional capacities, you’ll have to work with other people. Those who can collaborate effectively are highly sought-after. They can help to drive successful projects and work towards achieving the goals of a company.
Our program, Collaboration, Communication and Remote Working, focuses on how to work and communicate in the modern workplace. It can be the ideal primer if you’re hoping to get a job after being a stay-at-home parent for a few years.
Emotional intelligence is a skill that allows us to understand how we feel and how others might feel. By identifying these feelings, we can then react in a positive way to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, and manage stress.
Our course on emotional intelligence at work focuses on how you can develop your emotional intelligence skills for use in the workplace.
Hard skills are the specialised abilities and knowledge that you need to do a particular job. They’re often easier to measure and can be enhanced with courses and qualifications. Here are some of the most in-demand hard skills at the moment:
Blockchain is the technology that powers cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
It’s a fascinating field that has applications in the way data and information are stored, transferred and coordinated. There are many different areas that the technology can be used, meaning all kinds of businesses are searching for people with knowledge.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is truly one of the most futuristic fields of expertise at the moment. So many industries can make use of AI technology, from MedTech and robotics to deep learning. It’s an industry that’s still emerging and growing at a rapid rate.
Data of all kinds play a significant role in our lives.
Science, marketing, healthcare, and many other industries are all making use of data to inform business decisions. Those who can analyse and interpret huge sets of data are, therefore, highly sought-after.
How to get a job after being a stay-at-home parent – final thoughts
It can seem like a challenging prospect to find a new job after years of being a stay-at-home parent. However, with the right skills and preparation, you can soon get your career moving again.
The important thing is not to rush into it. You can take your time to really find out what you hope to get out of the process.
It can be far easier to find work if you can prove you have the right skills.
Through a combination of experience and further learning, you can strengthen your CV and put yourself in the best position possible to get a job after being a stay-at-home parent.