7 Career Tips For Mums Returning to Work

February 22, 2023

Let’s face it. Working mums who take maternity leaves or sabbatical for a couple of months or years find it quite challenging to return to work.

I’ve met a lot of mothers in the workforce, and they all have the same question that they ask themselves after taking a maternity leave: Should I be a working mum or a stay-at-home mum?

Whether you are a stay-at-home mother itching to return to the workforce now that your children are grown up or a former employee stuck and uncertain of how to stage your comeback after a long break, don’t fret just yet!

This guide for mums returning to work is for you! Follow these 7 simple career tips and you’ll find yourself back in the corporate world in no time.

1. Be Flexible

Keep an open mind and don’t feel restricted by what you did before you became a stay-at-home parent.

Most basic job skills are transferrable—project management, team management, administration, and so on—so do explore your options to see what else is available to you.

You can even consider a career switch if you want to try your hand at something new. Either way, your new job may require some additional skills, so be prepared to adapt to flexible work arrangements.

2. Be Honest

Be honest about your time as a stay-at-home mum! Don’t try to hide it, because recruiters will notice. But at the same time, don’t try to sneak it into your résumé as “domestic engineer” or something equally silly.

Do mention what else you’ve been up to: volunteer work, online classes; anything else that shows you’ve kept yourself challenged and continued to hone your skills.

You can use your cover letter to briefly mention you stayed at home to raise your family, but avoid going into too much detail over it—you want them to know you’re qualified for the job, so focus on emphasising how that is the case, instead. Talk about your previous work experiences, and the skills you bring to the table.

Check out this great cover letter example written by a former stay home mum.

3. Showcase Yourself

Were you an active parent volunteer at your child’s school? Did you start your own side-business in baking cakes for birthday parties?

Or maybe you helped your local church manage their Twitter and Facebook feeds. All of these tasks involve useful, transferable skills that you can easily include in your CV or talk about during job interviews.

Social media management is a hot, desirable skill in the new employment landscape, for example. Organising a school event shows you can manage projects under time and budget constraints. Engaging in your own small business demonstrates your entrepreneurship and money skills.

It’s all about packaging yourself as excitingly as possible—make sure those recruiters know just how capable you are!

4. Be Reassuring

You left the workforce once before. Are you going to do it again? Like it or not, recruiters and hiring managers will wonder about this, so it’s up to you to reassure them that you are back for good.

A note in your cover letter can go a long way—e.g. “I have been on sabbatical since October 2010 to attend to my family; specifically my children who were in their formative years. Now that they are older, I feel energized and am keen to re-join the workforce permanently.

5. Update Yourself

While you’ve been stuck elbow-deep in changing diapers and arranging playdates, the working world has moved on without you.

Much will have changed while you were gone, not only in the technical sense of your field, but also in terms of working culture and employee expectations. Be mentally prepared to update your knowledge and skills. Read as much as you can to get up to speed with all the changes.

Trade websites, for example, are a great place to acquire news relevant to your field. Perhaps put your SkillsFuture credits to good use and take on a part-time course to upskill yourself.

6. Make Connections

Like it or not, succeeding in the working world is all about making good connections. Indeed, many job positions are actually filled because recruiters or hiring managers have tapped into their own network of contacts to find suitable candidates.

But you don’t need to be gainfully employed to be making useful connections—your child has school mates and/or friends from extra-curricular activities or the playground, and all of those children have parents.

A parents’ network won’t just be an emotional support; you might find it a useful place to ask around for new employment opportunities.

If you’re not on LinkedIn yet, we recommend you build up your LinkedIn profile too. LinkedIn’s a fantastic way to grow your network, and with an up-to-date profile, you might even have job opportunities coming to you.

7. Be Realistic & Persistent

The field is not as against you as you might think. Indeed, studies have shown mothers are actually more productive in the workplace, perhaps because the all-encompassing experience of raising a child into a functioning member of society makes a person more mature and better at both time and people management.

Nonetheless, it is never easy to return to work after a long break. Be realistic in setting your expectations, but don’t be quick to give up. You might have to face a few non-replies or rejections before you hit on that perfect job.

Want More Advice?

Feel free to drop us a note if you have any questions or comments. We welcome mums returning to work and we are more than happy to help you get your career back on track!

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Harry Suresh
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