The Ultimate Guide for Stay-At-Home Moms Returning to Work

Inside: Stay-at-home moms going back to work outside the home – this guide covering what you need to ask yourself, how to research, and how to plan your job search is what you’ve been looking for. A collaboration between Career Coach, Beccca Carnahan, and Resume-Now.

Stepping out of the workforce to be a full-time stay-at-home mom is a big decision. You did the math, figured out your family’s needs, and made a choice that was right for you and your family. For some, it was an easy choice. For others, it was not easy at all. Kudos to you for doing it though, mama! That’s amazing!

If you have paused your career to take up the important work of raising kids you are not alone at all; it’s estimated that 43% of women will leave the workforce after having children.

For many that doesn’t mean leaving the workforce forever though. 70% will seek to return to work outside the home when their kids have more independence or are in school full-time. When the time for re-entry does come there’s a lot to think about.

3 Questions Stay-at-Home Moms Going Back to Work Need to Ask

woman's hands writing in notebook

If this is the boat you’re sailing in right now and you’re planning to re-enter the workforce, it’s important to think ahead and do some research, internally and externally.

Here are three big questions to ask:

1. What are your primary needs right now, both as an individual and for your family?

Your needs may look very different now than when you started your career in your twenties. For example, is a position that allows significant flexibility or time with your family the biggest priority, or are financial needs paramount?

Before diving into a job search, it’s important to figure out what you need from this next role. That list could include stability, flexibility, friendly co-workers, working remotely, a specific salary, and a company that has proven its dedication to diversity and inclusion, to name just a few. Then write those needs down! Creating a list of your priorities is a powerful way to stay on track.

2. What do you want to do?

Put simply, what kind of work do you want to do, what do you love, and what are you good at?

It’s important to take the time for this type of self-assessment before applying for a job. This way you have a good understanding of what you want to achieve and can prioritize your time accordingly in your job search.

If in your self-assessment you find that there is a position you want to work your way towards, reverse engineering that job and the steps to get there can help you plan your next move. For example, maybe you don’t have the experience to manage a marketing department yet, but what roles could help you gain that experience?

Take your first steps to figure out what you want to do with this free training.

3. What has changed in the world of work?

Whether you took a “break” from the workforce for 2 years or 10 years, there have likely been some changes in the world of work to keep in mind.

For example, for someone re-entering the workforce in 2023, remote work is more of an option than 5 years ago and workers are less limited by geography when seeking out opportunities. There are also industry changes like new technologies, trends, and customer preferences to consider.

Dive back into trade publications, or simply browse articles on LinkedIn, and get a sense of what the needs are in the market so you’re well informed.

Tips for Moms Going Back to Work and Tackling the Job Search

Women's hands writing in notebook with pencil and computer in background

Now that you’ve thought about what you need, what you want, and what has changed, it’s time to get started.

This part can be stressful for stay-at-home moms going back to work because it’s a huge adjustment, takes time, and can rock your self-esteem. In any job search there is an element of rejection and for those who have stepped back from their career and are re-entering there’s a common fear of “Will anyone want me?”

There are ways to overcome these challenges though and Resume-Now can help make the job search and return to work process easier and smoother with these tips.

Stay at home moms' guide to going back to work

Tip 1: Dedicate Time to Network

Networking is a great way to get your foot in the door when you haven’t been in the workforce for some time. Believe it or not, 85 percent of jobs today fill themselves due to networking so spending time on building relationships, even if you are introverted, pays off.

A great place to start with networking is reaching out to old co-workers. This may make you more comfortable than if you were to reach out to those who you don’t know. Plus your old co-workers know your work style and will be able to vouch for you as they introduce you to others in the field.

You’ll also need to network with strangers as part of your job search. One way into this is to consider networking with women who were stay-at-home moms and have returned to the workforce. They will better understand where you’re coming from and can help guide you in the right direction.

Check out the Complete Networking Toolkit to get you up and running quickly!

Tip 2: Expand Your Knowledge and Skill Set 

When entering a new industry, you may need to expand your skill set to stay relevant in the competition. You can do so by taking training into your own hands with online courses and certifications.

You’ll find both free and fee-based online courses in a variety of different subjects. These courses are also very practical as they are designed for users to complete them at their own pace. Beyond the knowledge building, courses and certificates also can help fill gaps on your resume.

Some places to find courses and certificates are LinkedIn Learning, Udacity, and Career One Stop. Check out more career training programs here.

Tip 3: Own Your Story

Speaking of resume gaps, that’s a huge stressor for stay-at-home moms going back to work so let’s talk about how to tackle that!

First off, own the gap and be honest about it in interviews. The straightforward and confident answer you can give is that you chose to leave the workforce to focus on childcare full-time for X number of years and now you are eager to bring your skills and experience back to work outside the home. You’ll then talk about your previous work history and highlight skills you’ve developed as a stay-at-home parent – there are a lot!

How to Land a Fulfilling Job You Love Without Giving Up the Flexibility You Need
Hosted by  Becca Carnahan

Before you get to the interview stage though, remember that work does not need to be full-time or even paid to be included on your resume. Include relevant volunteer experiences, part-time jobs, entrepreneurial ventures, and project-based work. These experiences matter and can be included under Experience or Volunteer on your resume.

More Return to Work Tips for Moms

Going back to work after being a stay-at-home mom can be challenging, but it’s also very doable and can lead you down a new exciting path. The effort and hard work you put in now will pay off once you nail that interview, land the position, and prove to yourself that you’ve totally got this!

For more information, check out Resume-Now’s infographic on the path moms are taking to return to work. 

Thank you to Resume-Now for sharing this comprehensive infographic!

One more thing I would add is that it’s important to think about the “objective statement” noted here under the resume section as a professional profile and not as a “I want this job statement.”

This profile statement is way more powerful to tell your narrative and help employers see why they would want you. More on that here!

Read More Advice for Moms Going Back to Work

Stay-at-Home Mom Skills that Make You Indispensable at Work

Complete Networking Toolkit

What Does “Having It All” Mean To You

How to Take Your Resume from “Meh” to “We Need to Meet Her!”

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One Comment

  1. There is so much that goes into returning to work. I recently re-entered the workforce with a full time job, and it definitely takes some adjustment. It also means needing a support network for really busy days such as picking up the kids from school. I feel like it does take a lot of juggling and also accepting you will miss some school activities, but I am ok with it since we can live more comfortably on two salaries.

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