Tips for Women Returning to Work

For women returning to work after divorce, rebuilding a career can seem daunting, especially if they've spent years being a homemaker. How do you get started looking for a job when you may not even know what you want to do? How can you make up for all those years you weren't earning a wage? If you've been wondering what your options are for reentering the workforce, the following article can give you a jumpstart.

From Homemaker to HOT Candidate

Strategies to re-ignite your career after a leave of absence

Mom looking at job ads while laying on floor with daughter

Many women voice the fears they have over reentering the workforce after a divorce. Returning to work after a divorce presents an emotional move after years of raising children, and emerging with confidence is a beneficial aspect of good divorce support. Here are my tips for stepping up and stepping out in the workplace with excitement, enthusiasm and confidence!

1) Engage your imagination: 
Your kids are great and creating new worlds, machines, and magical creatures from the moment they wake up each day. Take a cue from their inherent skill and write out in detail what kind of a job you would like right now. Be creative and playful. 

Write out your job description as if you were writing a classified ad. What would be the ideal job title? What department? What industry? Hours? Location? Compensation? Dress code? What are the characteristics of your ideal boss? What is the overall vibe at the company? What size company do you aspire to work in? Are there organic growth opportunities? If there is, what would be the next position you'd like to transition to? Go ahead and dream! 

2) Assess your strengths and weaknesses:
Looking at your new ideal job description, assess what strengths you have that would be a match to that job and provide an attractive fit to your ideal company. If you've been a homemaker consider the roles you've had. Have you handled the household budget and bills? Have you volunteered time in schools or other organizations? Have you run a small home based business? What are the attributes that other people rave about in you? Write it all down. 

On the other side of the coin, and again, looking at your ideal job description, what skills and assets are absolutely essential that you don't have yet? These are the weaker points of your resume. It's helpful to become aware of them so that a) you can work towards filling them in (if you need some experience under your belt) and b) you are better prepared if they come up in an interview and you can effectively address it.

3) Look for leverage
Often times, if there is a gap in work experience a small investment of time or money and can yield a high return in your next job. I had a client that was a homemaker for seven years and her most recent job was as a project manager. When she wanted to return to work, she was surprised to find that project management was most often a certified position. For a small investment of time and money in going back to school to gain her certification, she would gain a great deal of leverage upon re-entering the field. 

What small actions can you take that will provide a great return on investment? You may look at some educational options to brush up on skills, or you may simply take some temporary, seasonal or part-time jobs just to gain some extra exposure, skills and credibility on your revised resume.

4) Your network = your net worth
In my experience, the most highly leveraged action you can take in attaining your ideal job is to tap into your network. A personal recommendation will get your resume looked at faster and with more weight (even if you are lacking some experience). Start talking to people you know and put the word out that you are in the market to do a great job for a great company. 

Your network is your sales force that will go out there and advocate for you. Provide them a copy of your resume and ASK for introductions. (Yes, you must ASK!) Join LinkedIn (they also have job postings) and build up your connections, it may be more valuable that you realize. Join business groups, meet-up groups for networking, or industry groups. If you are serious about using this tip to your highest benefit, print up business cards for yourself with your contact information that specifies your ideal position.

Use these tips to get you started on your job search. Every goal starts with a specific target in mind. After years of providing divorce support, I've heard several women frame their job search in a negative context. However, you can also look at it as a time to start anew. Perhaps earlier in your career you never did what really interested you. You have a new opportunity here to build a fresh new career upon your interests and desires. It's your life. You can build it in any direction you choose. Good luck!

Article by Jennifer Horton and written exclusively for WomansDivorce.

The articles below provide more information to help women returning to work after divorce: