Article by Therese Droste
Have you been at home and out of the job market for several years, and now want to get a job? That gap in your resume -- whether it's from taking time off to raise your children, tending to a family illness or just getting some R&R -- can be viewed by a potential employer in a positive light. But it's up to you to shine those bright rays on your skills and abilities.
Yes, technology and business trends change. And yes, your skills may be dusty (not to mention your wardrobe). So what? You've acquired some valuable experience and can learn anything you set your mind to.
One key to maintaining your self-confidence during your job search is realizing that many of the skills you've used to run a home are transferable to the workplace. These skills include organization, time management, bookkeeping (family finances), and management and leadership (organizing kids, spouse, a.k.a your workers).
Get out a piece of paper and start writing out your activities over the past several years. Then look for "business terms" to apply to those activities. Your list may include some of the following activities:
Running a household involves making sure that tasks such as cleaning, cooking and grocery shopping get done by you, or are effectively delegated to other family members. Something as small as running out of milk or soap can throw some households into a panic. It's no wonder that homemaking is considered an art. But it's much more than that. You are managing your business -- your family and home.
Budgeting, Bookkeeping and Your Finances
Keeping track of the household finances is no easy feat. It requires balancing priorities and dealing with grumbles from family members (your employees) when they don't get what they want. Should you buy your son or daughter those Nikes, at $110 a pop, spend that money on something else, save it, or make your child earn that money? If it's the latter, think of your child as an employee you lead and manage.
Time Management and Prioritizing
As a stay-at-home parent, you may make doctor's appointments for your kids and participate in car pools for swimming meets, Girl Scouts or other activities. This requires juggling a daily, weekly and monthly schedule for your family. Prioritizing -- or just trying to stay sane with kids messing about in the background -- requires concentration. And when the pressure rises at the office, with several people placing their demands on you at one time, you'll be able to become "tone deaf" to the distractions and figure out what's the most important task to take on.
Make sure you include any volunteer work you've done. If you've volunteered for the PTA, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, coached a soccer team, worked on a political campaign, or taken part in similar activities, put it on your list. Then ask yourself what executive/business skills those activities involved.
Then ask yourself what skills you'll need for a particular job. Typing? Word processing? Whatever it is, find a class to get you started if you are rusty. If you interview for a job that requires such skills, you can say, "I am brushing up on my word processing/typing skills in a course I am taking." The response will reflect your dedication to doing a job well.
That gap in your resume can be filled in with many relevant skills and abilities. Knowing what you have to offer will help you maintain your self-confidence throughout the entire job-hunting process.