Career change after kids is entirely possible. In fact, it can be down right exhilarating and even fun. You just need the right information and a simple framework.
I’ve never actually sat down and thought specifically about how my mom skills connect to my career as a coach and educator. But looking back on the last seven years, everything about being a mom has affected my career. In fact, I consider being a mom an integral part of my career.
Read on to learn how to reinvent or change your career after having kids.
See related: Need a Career Make-Over? These FREE tools can help!
Keep a record
One thing I regret regarding my career change after kids is not asking for more recommendations over the years. I cannot count the number of times I have helped friends or colleagues with their resumes or interview skills. Although I typically don’t charge a family member or close friend, I have learned to ask for something in return for my valuable time.
Are you taking a career pause after having kids? If you provide contract, freelance, or even free services during this time, record it! Ask for LinkedIn recommendations after each project. Update your resume with new accomplishments and skills.
Make a special folder in your email for any positive feedback or compliments you receive from clients, co-workers, managers, or friends. Moms often do not realize that volunteer work counts as work experience. Let’s say you volunteer for the PTA or in your child’s classroom. You can list transferable skills on your resume like organization, time management, public speaking, and project management, to name just a few.
See related: Top Ten LinkedIn Mistakes for Moms Returning to Work
Translate mom skills to job skills
One of the keys to a successful career change after kids is tracking your skills. As moms we learn so many skills it’s hard to keep track! Patience, listening, attentiveness, calm under pressure, problem solving, and stress management are just a few I can think off the top of my head.
You might be thinking, “Sure, I’ve got lots of skills, but how do they translate to my paid career?” I love taking pen to paper. Or you can also make a list on your computer. Either way, carve out some time and make several lists:
Before mom skills: Which skills or strengths did you have before you became a parent or caregiver?
Mom skills: Brainstorm all the skills you have acquired while being a parent or caregiver. The sky is the limit! Examples include: CPR / First Aid, flexibility, problem-solving, communication (listening & empathy), project management, time management.
Skills I love using: Narrow down your skills by including only those skills or strengths that you love using. You can also list skills you like but may not love. The idea here is to exclude skills you don’t want to use in your next job.
What the world needs: Now that you’ve narrowed down your skills (both mom-related and work-related), it’s time to connect them to the work world. I’ll use myself as an example:
I’ve always been skilled and passionate about writing. For a long time I didn’t know how to connect that with being a mom and also my career as a career coach.
One my biggest “mom skills” is understanding what it’s like being a mom and juggling life and career. A couple years ago I decided to start a blog. I wanted to use my knowledge and skills as both a mom and writer to help moms navigate their careers. You might not have a clear or obvious connection right away. It takes time to explore and soul-search when it comes to career change after kids.
Use sites like O’Net and The Occupational Outlook Handbook to get information about fastest growing careers and in-demand fields. Browse professionals’ profiles on LinkedIn using keywords. There are literally thousands of people on LinkedIn working in hundreds of capacities in every field!
See related: How to Keep Your Job Skills Sharp as a Stay at Home Mom
Get & stay connected!
It can be isolating to be a stay-at-home mom. Even if you take a short maternity leave, staying connected with friends, fellow moms, and colleagues is key.
In order start your path towards career change or reinvention after kids, you need to get connected! Facebook has mom-related groups by geographical region, as well as groups by interest. When my kids were very young I wish I had joined a mom group. I felt so lonely and disconnected and I didn’t realize how easy these groups are to join.
In my mom groups I see moms post questions every day like “I’m getting ready to head back to the workforce. Does anyone have any connections in the ____ field?”
LinkedIn has thousands of groups for alumni as well as professionals in just about every industry. Some groups allow members to join automatically, and some you have to make a request. Once you are a member, make sure to participate and fight the urge to just be passive. Share relevant insights and articles, and comment and like others’ posts.
See related: Top Networking Tips for Moms Returning to Work
Utilize mom-specific resources
Take advantage of the many online job search resources (including job search portals) specifically designed for moms and stay-at-home-moms reinventing their career after kids.
In case you haven’t heard the buzz about “returnships,” this is a relatively new phenomenon specifically designed to provide caregivers who have been out the paid workforce the opportunity to become up to date on industry skills and certifications. The non-profit organization Path Forward partners with numerous organizations to provide paid internship or “returnship” opportunities.
Another organization, The Mom Project, partners with companies who are committed to helping working parents achieve better work-life balance. The employers working with The Mom Project are passionate about matching job seekers with opportunities that match their personal and work preferences.
Make sure your next job offers the kind of flexibility you need by reading employee reviews on sites like Fairygodboss and Glassdoor.
See related: How to Pick the Best Resume Template 2020
Combat success blockers
Lastly and most importantly, kick negative thoughts to the curb:
I’m too old to change careers. I’m too busy. Everyone is smarter than me. I’m not skilled enough. I’m overqualified. What will people think? I don’t have enough money. I’ll never be happy! What if I fail?
It’s important to realize that what is holding you back from a fulfilling career change after kids is often you.
Shed the noise. Shed the guilt. You’ve spent years taking care of others. Now is the time to focus on yourself!
Career change after having kids does not happen overnight. It takes time and effort to decide your next step, make a plan, and then put your plan into action. Patience and hard work will eventually land you your dream job!