7 Must-Know Tips for Newly Divorced Women Re-Entering the Workforce
In most marriages, both individuals enter the relationship with their own careers and income streams. When vows are exchanged, and children get involved, the lower earner is faced with a major decision when it comes to the workforce: to stay or not to stay?
Several factors can play into whether a parent decides to run the household and support the children full-time. For one thing, child care is expensive. If the cost of day care exceeds the take home salary of the lower earner, it may make more financial sense to stay home.
These days, that could be either parent. But historically, most professionals who voluntarily leave the workforce are women. This leaves stay-at-home wives and mothers in a uniquely vulnerable position if the marriage ends in divorce.
Recently divorced women with a financial need to re-enter the workforce after a significant employment gap face many challenges ahead. However, it’s not all bad news. Getting back in the game can be an incredibly empowering experience.
Follow these seven must-know tips to successfully begin the next chapter of your professional career.
1) Embrace the Opportunity to Re-Invent Yourself
Choosing a second career path can be scary, especially in the aftermath of an expensive and exhausting divorce. But this can also be an exciting opportunity to build toward an independent lifestyle, full of new experiences and chances to grow. Think hard and explore your options. Do you want to return to your original field, or try something new? It’s always easier to use the skills you have. But for women looking to shake things up and reinvent yourself, now is your chance.
2) Re-Educate Yourself on the Job Application Process
Thanks to technology, the job application process has significantly changed since you exited the game. Read as much as possible on best practices for writing resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles. You may also want to research commonly used job interview questions and practice your answers with a friend.
3) Don’t Hold Out for the “Perfect Job”
It’s always easier to get a job, when you have a job. You may not be able to re-enter the workforce at the same level you made your exit. Applying for jobs after years of a “planned sabbatical” can be a very humbling experience.
Even if you find a decent opportunity that falls short of your “dream job,” take it. It could be a critical stepping-stone toward your ideal position. Embrace the experience, take the day job, and in the meantime, keep looking for the next best thing.
4) Consider a “Returnship”
Resume gaps can be a red flag for potential employers, regardless of the reason. To get a foot in the door, some women have turned to “returnships,” internship opportunities designed for employees re-entering the workforce. These advanced internships give returning professionals a chance to update their technical skills, develop networking contacts, and eventually convert to full-time employment.
Having trouble finding opportunities? Consider working with a job coach/talent recruiter or a business that specializes in helping women re-enter the workforce.
5) Take Re-Education Classes
You don’t need to enroll in a full graduate program to update your skill set. Many women take single re-education classes, or short courses, to develop marketable skills that have become employment-musts since leaving the workforce. These can include courses on Facebook marketing, Microsoft Office, InDesign, Photoshop, WordPress, etc.
6) Share Your Personal History (Within Reason)
Potential employers don’t need to know the details of your divorce settlement. However, studies have shown that women who reveal personal information explaining the gaps in their resume may have a better chance of getting hired than women who don’t.
Gaps without explanation are a red flag. Letting employers know why you left the workforce provides much-needed context that may put their concerns at ease. This could be as simple as saying, “I took a planned sabbatical to raise my children.”
If you participated in any activities during the gap years that translate well into the desired position, include them on your resume. If you are applying for a development job at a nonprofit, let them know you were the leading PTA fundraiser for the past five years. If you are applying to become an event planner, let them know about the charity fundraisers you coordinated from start to finish. Just because you didn’t collect a paycheck, doesn’t mean you weren’t working.
7) Network, Network, Network
Join professional groups, connect with old co-workers and classmates on LinkedIn, and request informational interviews at desired companies. The more people you interact with, the more opportunities you will be exposed to. You may end up including new contacts as character references for future job applications.
8) Don’t Give Up
There are many benefits to hiring a woman re-entering the workforce over a recent college graduate. Across the board, younger employees are less mature, less focused, and less experienced.
Returning employees bring more confidence, real-world experience, and multitasking abilities to a professional environment. They also tend to bring more stability to the position (for example, they don’t require as much time off) and don’t skip around as much from job-to-job.
Finding a job is a numbers game. The more people you can meet and the more applications you can send out, the better. Eventually you will catch a break. Just don’t give up!
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