Mom Goes Back to Work: Making Your Stay-at-Home Experience Relevant

By Paula Santonocito

smw - mom goes back to workYou’ve been a stay-at-home mom for many years and you’re now returning to the workforce. You don’t have a lot of “on-the-job” experience, but you’ve done volunteer work and you’ve got excellent computer skills. Still, you’re uncertain about your marketability. Do employers consider this kind of experience when looking at potential hires?

A lot of women tend to discount work they’ve done that doesn’t fall under the heading of a traditional, paying job. Recognizing that your experience and skills have value is a big first step in marketing yourself.

Many employers will consider what might be called non-traditional work–provided you tell them about it and present it in the proper light.

It’s all about how you articulate your experience and describe your skills, on a resume or job application, in a cover letter–and in person.

In order to communicate effectively, you must step back and assess what you’ve accomplished and what you know. It’s easier to do this than you might think.

Start with your volunteer work. Begin by listing the organizations to which you’ve contributed, leaving space under each one for notes.

Then, just as you would with employers, list the dates of your work. If you held any titles, include them as well.

Once you have this outline, describe your work in short phrases, using verbs to denote action.

For example:

–    Organized annual fundraising drive; or,
–    Implemented new community outreach program.

Now that you have an overview of what you’ve done, it’s time to provide specifics.

For example:

–    Organized annual fundraising drive that generated $400,000 in donations; or,
–    Implemented new community outreach program that currently provides in-home meals service for 6,000 local citizens.

You get the idea.

Keep in mind that numbers are impressive, particular as they relate to money and people. As such, make sure you include information about any budgets you controlled, and any activities you coordinated or managed that involved groups of people.

For example:

– Controlled a $250,000 budget, meeting all financial requirements of the
organization with a $5,000 budget surplus, which was rolled over to the next fiscal year; or,
– Managed a staff of 15 volunteers who, as a group, raised $400,000.

Now hone in on your computer skills. What are these skills?

For example:

–    Proficient at Internet-based research; or,
–    Extensive bookkeeping experience using QuickBooks and Microsoft Money; or,
–    Working knowledge of Microsoft Office.

Here again the goal is to provide specifics about what you’ve done and what you know, in employment-speak.

After you’ve taken the time to recast your experience and skills in this new language, you will then be ready to present information in writing and in person to potential employers.

Chances are, upon completing this exercise you’ll have an added side benefit. You’ll realize how truly capable and accomplished you are. And guess what? Now that you know how to present your experience and skills in the proper light, potential employers will be inclined to see you the same way.

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