Stay-at-home mothers who have never worked or who have not worked for a long time will find that the climate of the working world has changed significantly over the past 10 years. Women have made great strides from middle management on through to corporate boardrooms. It is important for all women to be cognizant of these changes, to better use them advantageously, before embarking on reentry into today’s workforce.
Employers are more open-minded than ever before toward hiring women in general. Labor shortages in some industries have contributed to this attitudinal change. Also, employers cannot ignore that more women than men obtained college degrees last year. The Women’s Research & Education Institute in Washington, D.C., reports that a majority of associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees are earned by women.
In general, women are joining the workforce in record numbers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the labor-participation rate of women over the age of 25 has doubled within the past 25 years. As more and more companies adopt more childcare options, flexible work schedules, and telecommuting programs, that percentage will increase.Given these changes, women entering the workforce for the first time, or reentering after years of child rearing, need to adjust with the changing economic times and adopt the same attitude as a person searching for a position who had been with the same company for the past 20 or 30 years.
Women searching for a position who lack work-for-pay experience and/or a college degree should take heart. Employers today look at all practical experience. An applicant with two years as a PTA president, for example, is going to have managerial and organizational skills that apply to today’s business environment. Any volunteer work in civic agencies or private charities is looked at as practical experience by hiring executives. It takes time to sort out the practical experience you have before embarking on the journey to secure a position.
One way is to take a personal inventory of experiences gathered away from the working world. Take an ample amount of time to write, in detail, a history of yourself during the time spent out of the workforce. Do not be surprised if this “history” or self-appraisal encompasses 100 pages — the important thing is that you will have something to draw upon when the time comes to write a resume or participate in an interview. Because you may not have thought about the positives you possess for so long, thinking about and writing a personal history is an ideal way to become better acquainted with the transferable skills you have to offer prospective employers.
When you complete your written self-appraisal, you will have a snapshot of your gifts, talents, and accomplishments which will help develop a clear picture of the type of job you want (but remain as open as possible without prejudgment). Identify your functions so you can generate new ways to travel your functions to a variety of industries. Then it is time to write a resume that highlights your accomplishments and will serve as a guide for interviews.
Interviews may be less than 30 minutes and resumes are looked at briefly, if at all. You need to know exactly who you are and what you can do to persuade an employer that you are the person to hire. You only have a few minutes to make a favorable impression. When you know this information inside and out, you will be much more composed; this applies to any job seeker.
Your resume and self-appraisal history should be used as a supplement to what you want to say, not as a script. Although companies want to hire people with the same basic good qualities, each firm has its own agenda, problems, goals, and direction. By using the self-appraisal to prepare a list of accomplishments that you commit to memory, you can more easily relate your talents to an available position and obtain an interview. During the interview, you will be able to make a favorable impression very quickly and be invited back for a second interview.
Another important component to adopt for today’s workplace is flexibility. The pace of today’s working world has increased dramatically due to a global, 24-hour economy. Most competitive companies have abandoned the standard nine-to-five working day in favor of an open-ended day (including Saturdays and Sundays) brought on by overseas economies that function around the clock. Offer to interview on a weekend day or before or after traditional
business hours if you feel this would be more convenient for a prospective employer. By the same token, resign yourself to work non-traditional hours should a position be obtained.
Although there is rarely such a thing as an ideal job, there are more options in the 21st Century workplace for returning mothers and women in general. By investing time and care in the self-appraisal process and educating yourself about a working-world atmosphere that is in constant fluctuation, the chances of finding a job that suits you will lessen the risk of accepting an inappropriate job that quickly turns from good to bad.