Ask Sophaya: Help! I’m Returning to Work After Raising Children

Dear Sophaya,

I have been a stay at home mom for the past seven years, but I would like to start a new chapter and get a job. However, I want to work from home at least several days a week. I used to be in marketing and sales and I know a lot has changed with social media and online ads. What should my next steps be and how do I find a job with the flexible schedule I need for my family?

Thank you,

Get Me Ready for Remote Work

Hello, Get Me Ready, and welcome to the next chapter of your life!

Remote work is a great option for a parent reentering the workforce, and with the recent surge in the gig economy and popularity of remote working, this moment in time is an ideal time for you to jump back into your sales and marketing career.

The first thing to do is to determine precisely what you are looking for in your next job. It sounds like you’ve already been thinking about how you’d like to schedule your time, but to narrow down your search results — there are a lot of jobs out there —it’s important to get crystal clear on what you want in the next stage of your professional life.

Here are some questions to consider before starting your search:

  • Do I want a full or part time position?
  • How many days do I want to work from home?
  • What days of the week am I willing to work?
  • What hours am I willing to work during the day?
  • Are there any specific scheduling issues that would interrupt my workday, and how will I plan around those?
  • When working remotely, will my children be home? If so, do I have childcare or plans on how to manage both?
  • Do I want to be traditionally employed or be my own boss?

When you have answers to these questions, you can begin actively looking for jobs in your field. Search job boards, contact peers in your network, and look into local organizations big enough to have their own marketing departments. However, I’d suggest that you take a moment to refresh your skills first, especially if you have flexibility with your time.

Yes, social media and digital advertising has changed quite a bit in the past decade, but so has the opportunity to improve yourself with an online education. Where five to ten years ago you’d be taking a comprehensive class at a local college to refresh your skills, now you can get the precise training you need by finding a mentor to work one-on-one with or taking an infopreneur’s course on the niche topic, such as Facebook ads. Just be sure to do your research on the person you’d be working with or buying from so you know that you’re getting the best bang for your buck.

This approach often comes at a cheaper price tag than you’d pay for a college class, and with the bonus of an accelerated schedule since you’re only learning the topics you need most. My suggestion would be to start with one class. Then, you can use this to market yourself during the interviews (and your future job might offer a financial contribution to additional professional development opportunities!)

Quite often, stay-at-home parents feel as if they need to explain away the gap in their professional history that raising their children created on their resume.

Repeat after me: this is a strength and not a weakness.

Being the “primary” parent allowed you to develop skills in scheduling, accounting, crisis management, while also being an emotional support to individuals of different maturities and educational backgrounds. Plus, if you had the flexibility in your schedule to take a class before seeking out jobs, you can use this as another talking point in your interviews. It shows so much initiative and drive that you committed to catching up with your field before jumping back into it.

Bottom line: You are a powerhouse. Now go get that remote job and show ‘em what you’re made of.

Photo by Dakota Corbin on Unsplash