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Returning to Work

A Career Crossroads


USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Mother with baby boy (2-5 months) working from home
Jamie Grill / Getty Images
This article is the third and final installment of a series that focused on women and men who are facing a career crossroads — starting a family. This installment focuses on parents who have decided to stay at home to raise their families and are now, or will soon be, returning to work. The first installment of this series addressed the issues faced by those who decided to put their careers on hold while raising a family. The second part of this series dealt with issues faced by parents who have chosen to work while raising young children.

This article will provide you with information that will help you make the transition from being a stay-at-home parent to being a working parent. It will not cover practical issues, such as child care and balancing work and family. Those topics were covered in the second part of this series.

After years of being a stay-at-home mom (or dad) you've decided to return to work. Your decision may be motivated by a number of factors, but most likely your children are all in school and you've decided it's time to resume your career. Now you have a number of issues to deal with:

  • Should you continue in your previous career?
  • How do you make up for your time away from your field?
  • How do you explain the gap in your employment history?
Let's explore each issue.

Should You Change Your Career?

Now that you've had some time away from your career, you may decide that a change is in order. Perhaps the career you worked in before you had children is too demanding now that you have a family. Maybe you've discovered that you really didn't like what you were doing all that much, or you've developed new interests while away from work.

Hopefully you're reading this with some time to spare before you have to return to work. If so, you can use your time to figure out what you want to do. If you already know what career you'd like to pursue, you can start training for it. If you must begin working immediately, you might consider temporary employment. Temping gives you a chance to start earning money, while you figure out what to do.

How Do You Make Up For Your Time Away From Your Field?

Even if you're going back to the same career, you'll be quite surprised by some of the changes that have taken place during your absence. If you've used your time at home wisely, you've kept up with the changes in your field. If not, it may be time for some cramming. To bone up on what's been going on read up on industry news and start talking to people in your network.

How Do You Explain the Gap in Your Employment History?

When you put together your resume, you'll be faced with a dilemma. How do you explain the years that you have been out of the labor force? Many career development professionals suggest using a functional resume, which is one that highlights your skills, rather than a chronological resume, which focuses on each job you held. A functional resume includes a work history section. You could explain the gap in your employment on your cover letter. In The Resume Guide: 200 Damn Good Examples, author Yana Parker gives this guideline: "Make a POSITIVE, unapologetic statement about what you WERE doing." You should take a similar approach if you are asked about this gap on an interview. Explain that you took time off to raise your family.

Taking Time Off to Raise Your Family
Working While Raising Your Family

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