Returning to work after raising children can be intimidating, but it’s very doable if you follow the right steps!
In this article, you’re going to learn how to find a job after taking time off to raise kids, and mistakes to AVOID during your job search.
I’m going to show you how to minimize time spent job searching and find a better job than you had before taking time off to raise a family.
Returning to the Workforce after Raising Kids: 7 Steps
1. Be Clear When Explaining Why You Took Time Off
When you communicate with employers, it’s best to be clear and upfront about your past, and your current situation.
This is true in general – whether you were raising kids, or had another reason for employment gaps.
So don’t be apologetic about your decision to leave your last job or your time off, and don’t be vague when explaining your reasons.
If you’re trying to return to work after having a baby and/or taking time to raise kids, just say so.
Be clear that it was the right decision for you, and stand by it. Then you’ll need to show how your situation has changed to allow you to return to work, and what you can contribute in a new role.
2. Explain How the Situation Has Changed Now
Employers will definitely want to know what has changed to allow you to return to the workforce now.
So after you explain the reason for your time away from work, be ready to convince them that you’re 100% ready to come back to work after raising your family.
This can be a partner/spouse taking over the responsibilities during the day. This could be finding daycare. This could be your children reaching the age where they’ll be in school during the day, etc.
There’s no “right” thing to say here, but employers are going to want to know that you’re going to be available to work a full-time schedule now (assuming you’re applying for full-time jobs).
So you have to leave them with absolutely no doubt that you’re ready to return to work and put in the same hours everyone else on their team is currently putting in.
If you do this, you’ll give yourself a very good chance at landing a job after taking time off to raise kids.
“But… this is none of their business!”
Some people will tell you this is none of the employer’s business. Or maybe you’re thinking that yourself.
As someone who’s worked with 40+ different employers in their hiring process, here’s what I can tell you:
I don’t know if it’s their business or not, but they’re going to care – it directly impacts what they can expect if they hire you in terms of focus, energy, and availability… and how likely you’ll be to stick around.
This is very important to them. Hiring you takes resources and energy and they want to make sure that “investment” is a smart one.
So I’d recommend being ready to address this if they ask about your family situation or situation at home.
You don’t need to share small details of your personal life, but say something to put their mind at ease if they ask.
Even something as simple as, “we found a great daycare for Monday – Friday,” is enough.
3. Show What You’ve Done to Keep Your Skills Current
If you’ve done anything to keep your knowledge up-to-date during your time raising children, you’ll want to mention this on your cover letter, resume, and in interviews.
This can include maintaining any licenses/certifications.
It can also include taking an online course on a topic for your industry.
In fact, if you haven’t done anything like this, I’d recommend doing it now as you prepare to apply for jobs.
I’d personally recommend using LinkedIn Learning to take a course. They offer a full month trial period that’s completely free.
4. In Interviews, Focus on How Your Skills and Experience Will Help Them
You’re going face questions early in the interview process about why you’re returning to work after raising children, what your family/kids are currently doing that’s allowed you to return to work now, etc.
But after the first phone interview, the employer should have gotten most of their questions about your reasons for returning to work out of the way.
After that, you really want to re-focus the conversation on their job, and how your skills will allow you to produce great results for them in this role!
That’s what will determine if you get hired or not.
Be ready to show you understand their role and explain why you’re the right fit to do the specific tasks that are needed in this job.
If this is new to you, or you want more help preparing for interviews, here’s a step-by-step interview preparation checklist.
5. How to Set Yourself Apart From Other Job Seekers
If you’re returning to the workforce after a couple of years (or more) of raising kids, you really need to do everything possible to stand out and impress employers in the interview.
Make sure you’re 100% ready to answer common questions like, “tell me about yourself” and “why did you apply to this position?” without hesitation. If you make a great first impression in the interview, the rest of it will be much easier. And employers love to ask questions like these very early in the process.
Also, make sure you have a fantastic resume. Here are a couple of articles I’d recommend reading through:
- How to explain gaps in employment
- How to write a great resume work history section
- How to write a great resume “summary” section
6. Network Network Network
I’d recommend reading this article on the 3 best ways to find jobs.
Networking is #1 on that list for a reason.
Companies are far more likely to interview you if someone they know and trust recommends you.
You can apply online for 100 positions and only hear back from a few. Whereas if you get five people in your network to recommend you to their employer, you’ll likely get two, three, or four interviews from it!
So make sure to tell people in your network that you’re returning to work now, and ask if they know of any opportunities that could be relevant.
Connect with past coworkers, friends and family members. People can’t help you if they don’t know you’re searching!
7. Be Patient and Persistent
Job searching is TOUGH for anyone and can be especially frustrating if you’re looking to return to work after taking time to raise kids.
Expect it to take a few months or more to find the right fit.
Not every company is going to think you’re the right fit, and that’s okay.
You only need one job to end your job search.
The key is to stay level-headed and don’t quit when you face a few setbacks or disappointments.
Don’t get too excited when you land one interview and don’t get too discouraged when you face one rejection.
Facing a few setbacks in your job hunt happens to everyone – whether they’re returning to work after raising a family, or whether they’ve been working without any gaps for years. It’s just part of job searching.
So focus on the pieces you can control (your resume, your cover letters, your interview preparation, your mindset, and attitude), and keep repeating the process. You WILL find a job.
Also be persistent with employers. Don’t be afraid to follow up to get feedback after an interview, etc.
So, be persistent and don’t give up. Take a break if you’re frustrated and need to decompress, but then come back and keep going.
BUT – don’t keep repeating your process if it isn’t working.
If you’ve already been struggling for months and months, don’t just keep repeating the same things. You need to try something new.
If you’re not getting interviews, it’s your resume. Or you’re applying for jobs that aren’t a good fit or you’re not qualified for.
If you’re getting interviews but no job offers, you need to work on your interview skills.
I’d recommend checking out this article on the top reasons you aren’t finding a job. It’ll help you figure out where the main problem is, broken down into 16 possible reasons.
Returning to Work After Raising Children – Quick Instructions
- Be prepared to explain your decision to take time off to raise children, and how your situation has changed to allow you to return to work now
- Demonstrate that you’ve kept your skills and industry knowledge up-to-date while raising children
- Make sure to emphasize how your skills and past experience will help the company if they hire you for this new role (every job seeker should be doing this – in your interviews, cover letter, resume, etc.)
- Make sure you over-prepare for your interviews by researching the company, studying common questions, etc. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
- Utilize your network to secure more interviews. Networking is one of the best, fastest and most efficient ways to find a job.
- Be patient and persistent. Expect it to take AT LEAST a couple of months to get a job offer when returning to work after raising children.
- Focus on the things you can control such as your resume, cover letter, interview preparation, and mindset/attitude. You will face challenges, but keep focusing on your own process, and don’t give up. Not every employer will want you, but you only need to find one! So don’t give up.