Balancing the commitments of both work and family can be a struggle for many women. As a result, you may have to take a break from your career to stay home and raise a family or care for an elderly parent or relative.
Whether you are taking a break for just a few months or many years, there are things you can do now to help make it a bit easier to jump back on the career track later.
When taking a career break, it’s important to stay connected. Having relationships with former co-workers and colleagues allows you to maintain your networking connections and stay on top of developments in your former workplace or industry. The following are some simple ways to stay connected while on a career break:
1. Make sure that you have a presence on professional social media sites such as LinkedIn
2. Enroll or become a member of relevant professional associations
3. Attend industry events and trade shows that are open to the general public
4. Consider part-time/consultant work within your particular industry or field of expertise
Keep up-to-date on your job skills
If you plan on re-entering the workforce at some point in the future, you’ll need to keep up-to-date on skills that are necessary for your particular field or industry. You can avoid letting your skills fall by the wayside by:
1. Reading industry trade journals and publications
2. Taking continuing education classes or enrolling in relevant courses at your local college or university
3. Keeping abreast of the latest technology developments relevant to your field or industry
Look for alternative resume builders
While you’re out of the workforce and staying at home, it’s important to find alternative ways to build your resume. Nontraditional work environments that demonstrate your skills and draw upon your previous work experiences can be used to fill in any significant gaps in your resume. They can also provide you with a source of contacts when you want to re-enter the workforce.
Some examples of alternative resume builders include teaching a class at a local community college on a subject in your field of expertise; joining a nonprofit board (e.g., library or charitable foundation); and staying active in local volunteer organizations (e.g., parent/teacher groups and sport associations).
Consider easing back into the workforce with an internship
Today, employers recognize the value of hiring women who want to work after taking a career break. These women often have family obligations behind them, along with prior professional experience.
As a result, some companies are offering internship or “returnship” opportunities that provide women with an opportunity to ease back into the workforce. These internships allow employers to test the waters before determining whether someone would be a good fit for a permanent position.
If you are interested in an internship opportunity, many options are available, from informal arrangements with an employer to high-structured returning professional programs that are part of a company’s larger recruiting efforts.
Seek out others in your situation
If you are on a career break, it’s important to remember that you are not alone in choosing to stay at home to focus on family obligations. Consider seeking out support and guidance from other women who have chosen to veer off the traditional career path for family reasons.
Whether you have just made the decision to take a career break or are looking to reenter the workforce, there are numerous resources available to assist you, ranging from local stay-at-home mom networks to nationwide career relaunching services.