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If you got hired after staying home with your kids for years, please talk to me!


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I have had a few temp jobs this summer until now but now I'm needing to go for a permanent position. I don't have a sought after degree that will leverage me right back in to the workforce. 

So if you have successfully obtained a job in spite of a giant employment gap, how did you do it? 

What would be good to include in my cover letter?

My resume currently has my last 2 permanent jobs from ages ago. I've spoken to my old supervisors (we are still friends) and they will give me solid references but that doesn't change the old dates!

The temp work was babysitting and filing. Should I really put those on my resume? They seem so random and lame. (On a resume. I actually really enjoyed both jobs!)

Uggh! I feel totally at sea with this! Please help!

Edited by MrsRobinson
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I went back to (paid, out of the house) work after 15 years at home. I did have recent volunteer work to put on my resume, however, as well as a couple of recent board positions, so my resume didn't look too awful. In the end, however, I got lucky with a recommendation from a friend. 

Do you have time before applying for positions to do some volunteer work so you have some more recent experience and contacts? 

Eta: definitely include your temp positions!

Edited by MEmama
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30 minutes ago, MEmama said:

Do you have time before applying for positions to do some volunteer work so you have some more recent experience and contacts? 

Eta: definitely include your temp positions!

I have listed as a personal reference, my superior on a volunteer project that I'm still actively involved in. ( Today, in fact! Lol!) I didn't list the actual volunteer position the way that I did with previous jobs. 

So you think that's something that would be weighted more heavily in my favor than what I was imagining?

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I was out of the work force 11-ish years.  I did have a degree and prior experience that were beneficial, but on my resume I did include some volunteer work that related to what I wanted to do.

Just so you know, I took a job that was a 2nd choice.  I knew that might be a possibility to get back to work, and I was ok with it.  I applied for about 15 jobs, got 5 interviews, and got 2 offers.  But that was about 6 months' worth of looking and trying.  It was hard and took up the bulk of my time for the entire 6 months.

This is my 3rd school year back to work.  

Edited by DawnM
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I hadn't worked in over 20 years, though I did a huge amount of volunteering in a similar field to what I have ended up working in (nonprofit event planning/development.) I mainly got the job, though, through the recommendation of a friend.  I used volunteer references on my resume, as if they were "real" jobs.  I don't have a degree, and the job description suggested that a degree was preferred, but they hired me without it.  

When we move this coming summer, I don't imagine that I will be able to easily find a similar job (and I don't really want to, I'd actually really like to go to school)

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5 hours ago, MrsRobinson said:

So if you have successfully obtained a job in spite of a giant employment gap, how did you do it? 

What would be good to include in my cover letter?

My resume currently has my last 2 permanent jobs from ages ago. I've spoken to my old supervisors (we are still friends) and they will give me solid references but that doesn't change the old dates!

The temp work was babysitting and filing. Should I really put those on my resume? They seem so random and lame. (On a resume. I actually really enjoyed both jobs!)

Uggh! I feel totally at sea with this! Please help!

 

It took me between two and three years, depending on how you count it, to climb from no job to a "real" full-time job. However, I also had a specific combination of circumstances that made things more complicated than they might have been.

I had left my last full-time, professional-type job when I had my daughter in 1994. Between that point and when my son transitioned to a combination of online classes and dual enrollment in 2013,  which effectively made me obsolete as a homeschooling parent, my only work experience was a couple of years of part-time retail at a theme park. The plan had always been for me to go back to work in some capacity after I had graduated both kids, so when we reached that stage, I started trying to prepare for re-entry.

I should mention that my B.A. is in English, so not exactly a hot property, especially given that it was almost 30 years old when I started applying. The company I had worked for in that last full-time position had been purchased and eventually absorbed into a very large corporate entity. I had lost track of all of my former co-workers and was not able to track down anyone from that era who might have served as a reference. Much of my work before joining that company had been through consulting agencies, both of which had also closed or dissolved or changed names and ownership decisively enough that I was unable to dig up any potential contacts.

Although I had done quite a bit of volunteering, mostly in support of my kids' activities and through our church, there were circumstances that made it unworkable to count on references or recommendations from those sources, either.

And, just to make things more fun, I had student loans in default status, meaning my university was withholding my official transcripts. So, although I could prove I had a degree, I couldn't provide actual educational records to anyone who wanted to verify things like what courses I had taken or what grades I had earned (which came up surprisingly frequently with the kinds of employers and jobs I was targeting).  

I looked around and spent a lot of time with Google and took the first part-time, work-from-home job I qualified for, doing basic transcription. It paid an effective rate well under minimum wage, but it gave me something recent to list on my resume. From there, I signed on with Tutor.com. At first, I worked a grand total of about three tutoring hours per week, but, again, it was recent experience that was related to the general area I wanted to transition into, a job that was in some way related to education.

After about a year, by the time my son was graduating, I rewrote my resume to feature the current experience in a traditional, chronological format at the top of the page, with all of my previous, professional experience grouped (without dates) in a functional format. I sent that out to every strip-mall-type tutoring center in a 15-mile radius and was hired at a Huntington Learning Center within a couple of weeks. Again, it was part-time and didn't pay great, but it meant more hours of work each week. I dropped the transcription but kept the online tutoring, where I worked my way up a couple of levels, earning slightly higher hourly rates and higher priority in selecting the hours I wanted to work.

I continued to juggle both of those jobs, along with occasional other short-term or side gigs (tutoring a neighbor's child, scoring standardized test essays, teaching online literature and writing classes for homeschoolers, etc.) for a couple of years.

At some point, I set my sights on getting hired as a technology trainer in our county library system. I watched their jobs page and applied every time there was an opening for that job or the one just below it. It took me four tries, but I was eventually called in for an interview and was hired part-time, with a guaranteed 24 hours per week, a consistent schedule and an hourly rate nearly 50% higher than either of the other jobs. I kept all three gigs for about six months, reducing the hours for the tutoring jobs to make them work around the library schedule. At that point, I got the opportunity to bump my library hours to 32 per week, and I ditched the tutoring center. A few months after that, I let go of the online job (because some changes in policy had begun to make it very unpleasant). 

Several months after that, I was promoted to full-time at the library. 

Edited by Jenny in Florida
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8 hours ago, MrsRobinson said:

I have listed as a personal reference, my superior on a volunteer project that I'm still actively involved in. ( Today, in fact! Lol!) I didn't list the actual volunteer position the way that I did with previous jobs. 

So you think that's something that would be weighted more heavily in my favor than what I was imagining?

Yes. I would list volunteer work the same as a paid job--making certain not to misrepresent, of course. The skills and experiences learned while volunteering are equal to those learned while being paid. 

Good luck!

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I was home with the kids for just over a decade. I had left teaching and am now back at it. This is  my second year back.

I’m a preschool special ed teacher and in my area we’re in high demand these days. (That has changed over the years- used to be a glut of special Ed teachers here)

I did list on my resume the volunteer things I’d been doing over the years since they were relevant to the position I was applying for- running coops, teaching classes, foster parenting (& the related trainings for it).

I had personal connections to several staff members where I work now that probably helped too- I used them as references.

We have a social group for those of us going back to work- stop over there & join 🙂

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It can be tough. I worked from home while homeschooling, and currently have three part-time jobs and am still looking for full-time work.

I've always found that networking is the best way to get a job, but for whatever reason it hasn't gotten me full-time work yet.

You have to be prepared to "leap frog" lower jobs into something more. You may have to start part-time.

I was told to not put dates on my degrees and to limit the number of jobs I list on my resume.

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I got a job last summer after 20 years out of work.  For me, having a personal reference was key.  I applied for quite a few jobs but never got a call back. I felt like if someone would just interview me they would see that I'm better than my resume indicates.  Finally, I got the interview, thanks to an acquaintance who also works for the company, and the job.  FWIW, I don't like the job, but it fit my skills and background, so I took it as a stepping stone. 

My resume is mostly functional, which is a give-away that the person has been out of work for a long time. The only things listed in chronological order, under "recent experience," were a volunteer training thing I did, and homeschooling. I put as many work-related tasks under homeschooling as I could come up with:  researching, complying with laws, instructing, facilitating... 

The rest was based on skills: training, customer service, business process analysis. I did list the companies I'd worked for but had no dates because they were so old.

My cover letters always emphasized my experience related to the job offering. For an admin position, I highlighted administrative work I had done, and my recent classes in Microsoft Office. For my current position, which is customer service, I highlighted that portion of my experience.  I also moved some things around on my resume to highlight what the company was looking for. 

Include your temp work on your resume. Especially if you are applying in a related field.  Child care is great if you are going for a job involving children in any way. Filing is office work. (I actually would love a filing job but I didn't think they existed anymore. :-)  ) Think about your responsibilities beyond putting papers in folders - prioritizing work for multiple managers/departments?  Fast-paced environment?  Attention to detail?

I hope you are able to find what you are looking for!

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I thought the title said ‘If you got TIRED...’

When I went back to work after 20 years at home, I included volunteer jobs and that helped me land the first job, which I then used to land the second.  Perhaps you can use your part time gigs to land a full time job and then use that to land a better one.  Best of luck to you. 

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39 minutes ago, marbel said:

Filing is office work. (I actually would love a filing job but I didn't think they existed anymore. 🙂 )

I know, right?! This office is so behind on the times, its crazy. Someone told me they were hoping to move to a network computer system soon and they'd love to have me back for data entry. I'd love to do that but I can't wait around for it either. 

Thank you, everyone, for sharing your experiences and giving suggestions. I've changed a few things on my resume and it does look less like I've been living under a rock for the last 10 years, lol! 

I'm seeing a lot of you got your jobs, in part, from a connection to someone that could recommend you. So I contacted 2 friends in my field and they've both said they'd be happy to put my name forward. I'm so nervous! 😲

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10 minutes ago, Annie G said:

I thought the title said ‘If you got TIRED...’

When I went back to work after 20 years at home, I included volunteer jobs and that helped me land the first job, which I then used to land the second.  Perhaps you can use your part time gigs to land a full time job and then use that to land a better one.  Best of luck to you. 

It was a toss up between "tired" and "hired" but hired means $ so I went with that one for now, lol! 😂

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1 hour ago, MrsRobinson said:

<snip>

I'm seeing a lot of you got your jobs, in part, from a connection to someone that could recommend you. So I contacted 2 friends in my field and they've both said they'd be happy to put my name forward. I'm so nervous! 😲

Of course you are nervous. I was a nervous wreck for a long time.  

Just for some encouragement to you - it has worked out well.  OK, I hate the job. :-)  But, that aside, I found I was able to learn all the things quickly. I knew they were concerned that I wouldn't be "computer-savvy" enough (due to my age and how long I'd not been working) but I proved them wrong. 

It's also been interesting in other ways. I lived in a bubble of mostly Christian intact families. Not so with my coworkers!  I enjoy them all but I am getting an education in how other people live. This might sound snarky or elitist or something, but I don't mean it to be. I like them all and as far as I can tell they like me, but we have very different sorts of lives! it has given me a new appreciation for how narrow my world had become, kwim?

So all in all, it's been a positive. 

Edited by marbel
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16 hours ago, MEmama said:

I went back to (paid, out of the house) work after 15 years at home. I did have recent volunteer work to put on my resume, however, as well as a couple of recent board positions, so my resume didn't look too awful. In the end, however, I got lucky with a recommendation from a friend. 

Do you have time before applying for positions to do some volunteer work so you have some more recent experience and contacts? 

Eta: definitely include your temp positions!

❤️❤️❤️❤️

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3 hours ago, marbel said:

Of course you are nervous. I was a nervous wreck for a long time.  

Just for some encouragement to you - it has worked out well.  OK, I hate the job. :-)  But, that aside, I found I was able to learn all the things quickly. I knew they were concerned that I wouldn't be "computer-savvy" enough (due to my age and how long I'd not been working) but I proved them wrong. 

Yeah, I was actually amazed at how useful my "mom" skills were in learning a new job (and handling a new boss). I'm much less flappable than I used to be, I'm more confident in the skills I do have and in my ability to learn new ones, and less concerned about asking questions when I don't know (versus worrying about how not knowing will look). When you do land a job, you'll be going in a different person than when you left the workforce. It can definitely be an advantage. 

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As several posters have mentioned, 'who you know' can be very important. Tell everyone you know you're looking for a job, post it on Facebook. 

Yes, you should absolutely put all recent experience on your resume, both temping and volunteer. Definitely consider more temping jobs while you look; people often do temp-to-hire. The more assignments you complete, the more likely the agency is to keep you in mind for the good positions.

Check with alma mater and see if they have career services for alumni (you may need to be a member of the alumni society). Mine does, and they will go over your specific resume, let you take the career interest tests, go to the career fairs, all the things. 

Apply for jobs that you aren't likely to get. Tailoring your resume and writing the cover letters will help in a lot of ways: it helps you figure out the types of jobs that truly interest you, it gives you practice in selling yourself and finding the correct wording for things, it helps you over the first bits of anxiety and gets you started. Go on any offered interviews for the same reasons. 

Think about your goals. Do you need to make a specific amount of money as soon as possible, or can you take something that interests you and see where it leads in the long-term? Do you need benefits or does your spouse's job cover that? Do you have any idea of what you would like to do or are you very much still figuring it out? 

Take the civil service tests. If a potential position pops up, you already have your scores on hand. 

Would you have any interest in running a small daycare? I bring it up bc you enjoyed the babysitting gig, and it can be quite good money. A friend of mine started one after homeschooling and it filled up quickly, daycare is always in demand here. Over a few years, she was able to tailor it to what she is most interested in, and she now only takes preschool age children, no babies or toddlers. Alternately, you could teach homeschool kids part-time or full-time and tutor if that interests you. Possibly combine them both.

Along the same lines, being a para educator aka teacher's assistant pays decently in some areas and gets you into the school system. I'm currently a part-time assistant at a private school along with my own tutoring/consulting efforts. It pays less than public for sure, but it's giving me the chance to figure out if I want to stay along the lines of education or not, and if I want to do it on my own full-time or not, keep the mix, or go full-time working for someone else. 

Indeed.com is one of the most important job sites to be on. Get a good cover shot, upload your resume, set job alerts, and search jobs every day. Looking at detailed job descriptions and requirements every day has definitely helped me narrow down what I am and am not interested in. Some job titles sound promising, but then I realize I am going "ugh!" every time I read the job descriptions, lol. It will also teach you the current buzzwords and such and help you tweak your resume. 

One thing I have run into is that higher-level jobs frown on the employment gap (even though I freelanced during that time) and lower-level jobs frown on the college degree (over-qualified). It's frustrating for sure. 

So, do you have any requirements or interests? Anything you absolutely don't want to do? 

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I actually put homeschooling on my resume, granted I was looking at entry level jobs and finally ended up starting college. I couched it in terms of facilitating education instead of teaching and focused on the admin part - like selecting materials, writing lesson plans, etc. It added to my organizational skills, networking skills (thanks to this forum), and attention to detail. I viewed like being self-employed to a very select one client. I didn't have anyone question its inclusion. 
 

 

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3 hours ago, marbel said:

I knew they were concerned that I wouldn't be "computer-savvy" enough (due to my age and how long I'd not been working) but I proved them wrong. 

 

I'm a part-time assistant at a private school. In my current open classroom (3 full-time and me), I am both the oldest and the most computer-savvy! I do like paper for some things, but they make me absolutely twitchy by doing some very tedious things the long way instead of automating them. They use some books that follow a set lesson pattern throughout all the grades, but every single week they write out every. single. lesson. by hand! 

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