Maybe you’ve just celebrated the birth or adoption of a child. Or, maybe you’re tired of fighting through rush hour traffic to get home in time to see your kids 10 minutes before they go to bed. Whatever your reasons, you know you need to start a job search.
However, job searching as a parent is different from job searching in your child-free days. You may have a gap in your resume from parenting, or you might be looking for a new career that can accommodate your schedule. And sadly, some employers still believe that being a parent makes you a less qualified candidate (but it doesn’t).
So, how can you make sure you have a successful job search and land a role with a company that supports working parents? Below are a few tips to follow to streamline your job hunt.
Starting Your Job Search
When starting a new job search as a parent, it can be tempting to immediately jump into updating your resume or creating a LinkedIn profile. But before you do any of that, there are several steps you need to take to make your job search a smooth one.
Get Clear on What Type of Job You Want
You wouldn’t get in the car and drive without a destination. It’s the same with careers. You need to know what types of job you want.
Do you want to work in customer service or sales? Do you want to teach English online? Maybe you’re looking to make a career change and pivot into a job that’s better for working parents.
Also, consider your schedule and working arrangement. Do you need part-time or full-time hours? Perhaps now that you’re a parent, you’re not looking to be in an office five days a week and would prefer a remote or hybrid job?
Most people make a common mistake when they start job hunting. They head to an online job board or the wanted ads and skim through thousands of job listings that aren’t remotely related to whatever role they typed in. It’s time-consuming and mentally exhausting.
A more efficient job search starts by researching employers. Make a list of different companies you would like to work for. This will help you find employers that are the best fit for you, such as employers with policies and schedules that support working parents. Perhaps you’d like to work for women-friendly companies or ones that offer alternative schedule jobs.
Doing your research will help you have a more streamlined and efficient job search. Plus, by researching companies, you can ensure you’re applying for jobs with legitimate employers and avoid job scams.
Consider a Returnship
Sadly, even in our modern age, some employers are still prejudiced against parents returning to work. Rather than spend your limited time and energy trying to convince those employers that you’re just as talented as any other employee (which you are), consider a returnship.
A returnship, also known as an adult internship, can demonstrate your willingness to learn new skills, and it might be the perfect solution for parents looking to change careers without returning to school. It also allows you to build your resume and professional network for future job hunts.
Writing Resumes and LinkedIn Profiles
Now that you know what types of jobs and employers you’re targeting, it’ll be easier to focus your resume and LinkedIn on the roles you want. Here are a few tips to help you update your resume and LinkedIn for a new job search.
Writing Your Resume
If you’re returning to work after any break, you must update your resume. You’ll need a resume header with your name, contact information, and a zip code or city (you don’t need to include your home address unless you’re mailing in an application).
You’ll also need to include a strong resume summary that highlights your qualifications and experience. Furthermore, you’ll want a section highlighting critical skills relevant to the position you’re applying for.
You no longer need to include references or the phrase “references available upon request” in your resume. If a hiring manager wants references, they’ll either include a spot to upload them in the application or ask you for them in the interview.
Explaining Career Gaps
Explaining a career gap to an employer can seem intimidating. After all, we were all taught that career gaps look bad. But that was before a pandemic created an economic downturn and massive layoffs, and parents left the workforce because they couldn’t find childcare.
The world has changed since then, and many employers understand career gaps happen for various reasons. To address a job gap or career break, add a career break section in your resume. Check out some example resumes to see what this looks like in practice.
In addition, LinkedIn has also added career break options for your LinkedIn profile. You can choose options like full-time parenting, caregiving, or career transition. You can also use this section to highlight skills you’ve acquired during your break (because we all develop new skills outside the office too).
Setting Up Your LinkedIn
Did you know that 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn to fill positions? Whether you love or hate social media, by ignoring this platform, you’re missing out on valuable career opportunities.
A LinkedIn presence is essential to a modern job search, and creating an account is free. Here are a few best practices to get the most out of LinkedIn:
- Fill out your profile completely to achieve All-Star status and appear in more searches.
- Write a strong headline. Don’t put “unemployed.” Recruiters search for nurses, web developers, tutors, and other job titles—not “unemployed.”
- Write an “About” section highlighting key skills and experiences relevant to your target jobs.
- Engage with others on the platform. Join groups, network, and comment on posts.
So, you’ve identified the role you want to work in and applied for positions. And you’ve clinched the interview. Now is the time to sell yourself as the best person for the job. Before you sit down for that Zoom call or walk into the office, here are a few things to help you put your best foot forward.
You want to give a good first impression during the interview, so make sure you come prepared. Research the company ahead of time and review the job description. Also, if this is a Zoom interview, find a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted. Make sure to charge your laptop and that you have a good internet connection.
Practice Common Interview Questions
While you can never be 100% sure of what question a hiring manager will ask, some questions come up more than others when interviewing for a new job. You’ll want to practice these beforehand—you don’t want to make your first attempt at answering them in front of the hiring manager.
Here are a few common interview questions:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why do you want to work for our company?
- Tell me about a time you failed/succeeded.
Don’t forget to bring a list of your own questions to the interview. After all, an interview isn’t a one-way street! You also want to ensure the job and the company are a good fit for you. Here are a few potential questions to ask:
- How would you describe the company culture?
- Why is this role open?
- Can you describe a typical day in this role?
Give Yourself Grace
Jumping back into the workforce after any break is a challenge, especially for working parents. If you accidentally flub an interview or you’re not hearing back right away, give yourself some grace and be patient. And if you need more help than a guide can provide, that’s okay! Plenty of career coaching and resume resources are available to help you land the right job. Always remember, you can do incredible things (and you already are).
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