If you are a mom returning to the workforce, you’re probably worried about how the business world has changed.
Carly Hazen, Director of Recruitment for Prince, Perelson & Associates, shares ten things to know before breaking back onto the scene.
If you are a mom returning to the workforce, you’re probably worried about how the business world has changed since you’ve been gone, and you may be wondering how to sell yourself to prospective employers. Here are a few tips to hopefully ease your transition:
1) It’s important to know that you can turn that fact that you have been “home raising a family” into an asset, not a liability. You will have a “fresh perspective” and “bring new ideas to the workplace.” Tell employers that you will approach each situation “with a less cynical, more optimistic attitude” as a result of taking a break from the office for a while. Never appear to be apologetic for having taken time out, but also, don’t assume that the person interviewing you will want to hear all about your life as a stay-at-home mom, even if she is a mother herself.
2) You don’t want to reenter the job market wondering why everything has changed, so make sure you are up-to-date both in technology skills and industry information. You can get current industry information by conducting online and offline research, networking and taking classes.
3) Understand that business today is faster. Today, the world of business moves a lot faster than ever before. Contracts can be signed electronically (instead of having to wait for them to arrive, be signed by hand, and then mailed back), deals can be made online, and transactions can take place electronically. There’s almost no need to travel to remote offices, or sit on hold on the telephone for ages. Everything can be done via email or in your web browser, so prepare for a faster pace that is increasingly getting faster.
4) … but response times can still vary, so be patient. With that being said, don’t be disappointed if you don’t receive a response to your email or phone call immediately. A standard response time can vary from 24 hours to a few days, so don’t be discouraged even though it may feel like an eternity to you. Once you approach a week, try again with a gentle reminder.
5) Keeping in step with the business world today means understanding social media and how it can drive value. In today’s marketplace, it isn’t just top-tier executives that have access to each other – it’s also the knowledge workers and their assistants, the employees working in the trenches. So in many ways, your value is not just in what you know, but what you share and what network(s) you participate in. LinkedIn is an important place to start, so if you don’t have a profile yet, get on board.
6) In more ways than one, information has become more accessible. A few years ago, companies didn’t care about bad publicity too much, the saying “today’s headline is tomorrow’s trash” was often thrown around. That saying is no longer true because anything that’s really noteworthy gets reported online. So, if you’re thinking of applying to a company, a quick Google search will return several years’ worth of news coverage – good and bad, and will help you develop confidence by understanding and expressing industry and company knowledge during an interview.
7) While the easy access to information is a good thing for investors and consumers, it also has its downsides. Privacy no longer exists. Unless you’re willing to live like a hermit, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to control what appears about you online. Anything you post online, and anything your friends post about you, is out there to be archived, indexed, reposted, and shared with complete strangers, and any embarrassing photos that other people take of you are likely to get passed around online too. One episode of bad judgment (or one out-of-context photo) could limit your career options – or ruin them altogether. Companies are doing their research!
8) To fully prepare to reenter the work force, networking still remains a vital key – not only learn what opportunities may be out there and how to secure them, but also to learn what may have changed since you left the office. You might consider taking a few friends or former colleagues out to lunch and asking them directly: “What’s new in our industry?” and “What do you think I need to know?”
9) Many longtime stay-at-home moms are surprised by fashion changes (“business casual”), office culture (emailing the person in the next cubicle instead of getting up and walking 5 feet to talk to them) and general industry jargon. It’s important to remember there are divergent norms for appropriate attire in different industries; for example, if you’re applying for banking or finance jobs, then you will need to dress more conservatively than if you are interviewing for a job in marketing or advertising. That said, if you find that the company you are interviewing with has an overall casual dress policy and culture, you will still want to project your respect for the organization by taking the time to dress up in professional attire for the interview. Wear dark business slacks and take a blazer with you; just leave it on your chair if you feel its overkill.
10) Until a few years ago, companies tended to hire people that lived close to their offices. Remote working or doing some of your job from home wasn’t an option (unless you were a high level executive), and outsourcing to foreign countries was unheard of. The world has now become even smaller and more and more companies are allowing people to work from home a few days every week. Mobile workers are able to collaborate with people based out of an office, and a lot of work can be done from anywhere as long as you have access to a power port to charge your laptop, and a decent mobile signal. Investigate options for telecommuting to see if it makes sense for your particular arrangement. It’s becoming more common every day.
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“Top Ten Things to Know Before Breaking Back Into the Business World.”
Carly Hazen is a Director of Recruitment for Prince, Perelson & Associates and works with top privately-held and public companies in financial services, global manufacturing, technology, legal and administration. Carly is a regular guest on KSL News Radio and a contributor on KSL Studio 5.