Defining Your Search When Returning To Work

You have decided that it is time to get back into the “outside” workforce…Note that I do not say “real” work force because the hardest and most real job there out there is being a stay-at-home parent. My husband was a stay-at-home dad for 7 years and there were many a day I was happy to go off to work because it was hectic inside my house—that 9am Executive Meeting had nothing on my toddlers! But I digress…

So, again, you have decided to get back to work outside the home. The most effective way to start is define the parameters of your search to give yourself direction. You will need that purpose to help guide you through the crossroads you will ultimately encounter. By asking yourself some questions (some simple, some not-so-simple) in the areas of purpose, scheduling and earning potential you will have parameters in which to measure your progress and, ultimately, your success in landing the next role.

What is your purpose in getting back to work? What are you looking to accomplish?
This is a pivotal question to ask yourself. Having this question answered, even having several answers, will help you have a barometer(s) in which to compare potential opportunities to help you determine does the position at hand meet your objective at what you are looking to accomplish.

– Do you simply need some extra income or need to resume a full salary?
– Whatever the answer is to the question above…well, then what do you need in the form of compensation and/or perks (benefits, schedule, etc) to make this pursuit worthwhile?
– Are you looking to resume your career? Hoping to start a new one?
– Are you looking to just get out of the house and diversify your day?
– Are you looking to do a specific project/function that you enjoy doing or develop a new skill?
– Are you looking to give back to the community?
– Are you looking to learn something new within your field or explore a new industry?

Having this defined for you in some way is crucial in the beginning. This answer will allow you to determine if the job you are considering or applying for meets your needs. You will find you will answer interview questions more confidently and concisely. Having this squared away will enable you to stay focused on the jobs and activities that will support your purpose. If you used to be a high powered marketing executive in your past life, been home with your children for 5 years, but now just want to work part-time to make extra income, then you may not need to apply to Marketing Director roles just because you can. Or if you apply, do not need to be slighted that you did not get a call back—that type of role does not fit your purpose anyway.

What parameters do you need to work within? What possibilities exist?
When I started my career in recruiting, I did not have children and I had a husband who worked 80+ hours a week as a restaurant chef. So as a result, I was able to work as many hours as I wanted at work and take my work home with me, if I chose—and often did. Well, now, I have 2 children under 10 years old, a husband who was a stay-at-home parent for seven years and now has started his own construction business. I find us splitting the domestic responsibilities he did solely in the past. It is important that I work within certain parameters based on the obligations in my life–aka I cannot be the work-a-holic I once was.

So I pose the same challenge to you. Some parameters and possibilities for each of you to consider jobs exist around your skill set are:
– Scheduling Restraints (child drop off and pick up at school and activities)
– Scheduling Assistance Options – options to help with child care: family, bartering with another family or a paid resource (childcare, nannies, after care programs)
– Family Time Consideration – when home and what quality is allowed for family
– Shift Work – can on parent work during the day and another at night allowing for alternative childcare responsibilities? How will this affect the family?
– Are you looking for and able to work full-time or part-time?

How much do you need to make?
Notice here I say need to make…not want. Now you can also have a secondary goal of what you want. In this challenging market, I caution you to be realistic based on your skill set, but not to sell yourself short. Ask yourself:
– Does what I need to make correspond with what the jobs utilizing my skill set are paying?
– Do I need to shore up any of my skills with additional training or an entry-level role to help me ultimately transition into the role I want?
– Does the extra income I am bringing into the household exceed the additional expenses incurred to get back to work?
– Am I keeping my network contacts current and am I up to speed with what is going on in my industry>

Getting back into the outside workforce is an awesome decision and congratulations on making that choice. Arm yourself with the answers to these above questions to start and you can stay focused to ensure the job you land will help you accomplish your goals.

Written by Lisa Rangel, Executive Resume Writer

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