Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Former SAHMs: You Got the Job, Now What?

Much noise has been made in the media, and on our own blog, about mothers returning to the workforce during the Great Recession. While mothers return to the world of working for a paycheck during all economic cycles, the process is even more daunting when the market is as flooded with applicants as it is today. The good news? Many women, even those out of the job force for ten or more years, are getting the jobs they want and need.

This can largely be explained by two factors: industry and networking. Many fields dominated by women (education, healthcare, even accounting) are hiring. For niche skill requirements, employers understand the resume gap and hiring mothers back into the workforce. Secondly, women- especially mothers- are natural networkers. Whether it's running school fundraisers or church development boards, women are in their communities making connections and impressing all around them with their organizational, leadership and networking skills. In an era where you simply won't get a job by blindly applying online, this attribute is invaluable.

In today's Wall Street Journal, Sue Schellenbarger's article When Getting the Job is the Easy Part describes the challenges -both personal and professional- for women returning to the workforce after a prolonged absence.

New technology, changing office culture and a substantial decline in both pay and title are all challenges these women face. You can combat these challenges by staying in tune with your industry while out of the job force in professional association local chapters, strategic volunteering and freelance work.

Perhaps the hardest professional challenge is the dramatic decrease in compensation (on average, 37% decline if out of the job force 3 years or more) and title. The flip side to this challenge is that everyone is in the same boat. We're seeing salaries down 20-30% off 2006-2007 figures so a returning-to-work-mom is in the same boat as current professionals.

But the challenges don't end at the office, they spill over into your home. And how could they not? Mothers returning to work in this article find that there's tension in their marriage, that children have to become more independent and that somehow, the housework still has to get done. Stay tuned to read more about how you can divide the labor, prepare your kids and let go of "perfection" expectations when you are returning to work.

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