As you begin to embark on your return to the paid workforce, the very first step should be imagining what the whole scenario might look like. Is it full-time work with full-time childcare, or part-time childcare after school? Or just working during “school bus hours?” What are you ready for? What is your family ready for?
- Imagine: See if you can conjure up the perfect balance of work content, hours and compensation. Smile, and then acknowledge it doesn’t exist. Instead, think about which of those three factors is most important and then where your parameters are on each of the other two legs of the “Momentum” triangle. Be really honest with yourself, your capabilities, and desires. If you tell me you’re ready to work 30 hours per week, don’t tell me you’d rather work 15-20 when I present a 30 hour workweek opportunity. That builds distrust and lack of enthusiasm around your job search team (recruiters, friends, colleagues) and they’re less likely to bring you opportunities going forward.
- Build Your Team: You’re not going to get this done alone, you need a team. Your job search team should include prior colleagues, friends, family and trusted recruiters (like Momentum Resources!) You’re going to need 3 people to peer-review your resurrected resume, folks to give you mock interview questions. Identify these people now, do something nice for them in advance because you’ll be calling for favors soon!
- The Big Talk: It’s time for the come-to-Jesus conversation with your significant other. If you’ve been running the home front for the last few years, those responsibilities have to be divided and conquered. Accept that things will not be up to par with what you’ve done in the past, and go with it. Take my advice, nearly a decade into the working mom adventure: play to your partners’ strengths. My husband is an expert laundry folder and in a household with 3 boys, I do loads every day and leave the folding to him after bedtime. And praise substantially! If this method doesn’t work make a list of everything that needs to be done on a daily basis and find a fair and equitable way to divide household responsibilities. And remember, something’s got to give. One look at my lawn and flower beds full of weeds shows what “gave” in our house this year.
- The Big Talk, Part 2: It’s for the kids to man up. If you’ve been staying home with them, they’re likely used to a built-in playmate, resident playdate manager, picker upper of all toys and last minute classroom cupcake manager. Don’t kill yourself, hand over age appropriate tasks where strengths and interests lie and let go of ideals of perfection. I cringe every time I see the bulging, cramped drawers of my 9 year olds’ dressers but they put their own clothes away, one less task on my to do list.
- Child Care: It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario, but you need your childcare set up in advance of having a job. If you apply for a job to our company, I expect you to be available to interview on one business day’s notice. That’s just the way it is. We’re all working at the employer’s convenience. And if we present you with an opportunity and you say that you need a month’s notice to start because you don’t have childcare lined up, we likely won’t bring you another opportunity. It’s time to call in favors from friends, family and neighbors. Put them on notice. Pay favors for back up babysitting forward so you can call them in when needed. One of the best strategies I’ve seen from our candidate on the child care front was a woman who booked a sitter for two mornings a week. She used these 6 hours to aggressively job hunt, set up informational interviews, and when I called her for interview availability she simply said, “Sure! Anytime between 9am-1pm Tuesday or Thursday.”