You could say they traded their power suits for Power Wheels.  A whopping 30% of American women chose leave the workforce to raise their kids, according to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor.  But what happens when this tsunami of talent wants to opt back in?

For many moms reentering the workforce, the thought of reentering the workforce ranges from daunting to downright scary. They wonder, am I still relevant? Are my skills up-to-date? Does anyone even know me anymore? 

Tania Fiero, VP of Human Resources at San Diego’s Innovative Employee Solutions (IES), says stay-at-home-moms can successfully jump back in the work saddle again.  She offers five smart strategies to help you banish the jitters – and boost your back-to-work confidence.

  1. Get your feet wet before diving in.Short-term or consulting opportunities are a terrific way to get you get comfortable with going back into the workforce – and your kids ready for a change in their routine. A great way to land those gigs?  Register with a local staffing firm.  They offer a wide variety of positions, giving you a great way to not only get your mojo back, but to build up that all-important track record of recent experience.
  2. Look for flexible opportunities.  The great news for returning moms? There’s more and more flexibility out there, as the new “gig economy” grows.  Because finding a job that allows you to escape the traditional Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 grind helps you ease the stress of becoming a working mother.  For example, an earlier start can let you be there when the kids get out of school.  Working later in the evening or on weekends, when your spouse is around, can cut back on child-care expenses.  And let’s not forget about part-time jobs – they can be a great way to help you transition back into the workforce.
  3. Is it the “right fit?” Let’s face it, the people you work with (and of course, your immediate supervisor) often make or break a job. That’s why it’s critical to consider the culture and the work environment right from the start. Try to find someone who has inside insight into the company – or knows someone who does.  During the interview process, look past the handshakes and smiles – and look for clues about what it might be like to actually work there.  Is it “Friday casual” all the time?  Or are they more buttoned-up?  Is the company willing to give you the flexibility you’ll sometimes need as a working parent? These are all essential things to know before you accept an offer.  Bonus tip:  The San Diego Business Journal’s annual “Best Places to Work” list is a great resource to find a fabulous workplace with an awesome culture.
  4. Build your resume. Dream job? Everyone wants one – but it takes time and perseverance to get it.  It may take a while to get the position or pay you really want, but it’s important to play the long game.  That means looking for (and jumping on!) opportunities that’ll position you for that ultimate dream job.  Maybe that’s volunteering on a non-profit committee or joining a professional organization.  These are all great resume boosters!  And last, but certainly not least – leverage your own network!  Let everyone know you’re looking to get back in the workforce, from your family to your neighbors to your friends on social media.  You never know when someone might have a promising lead. 
  5. Polish those rusty office skills.  We don’t have to tell you technology moves fast! So, if you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, it’s important to brush up your office and basic technical skills like Word, Outlook, Excel and Power Point.  It’s not expensive.  There’s a vast array of free online tutorials – or sign up for a low-cost class at your local community college. 

Remember being told to climb that “career ladder?”  That’s becoming a thing of the past due to the tremendous changes in the 21st century workforce.

So perhaps the best metaphor for today’s careers comes from Sheryl Sandberg, best-selling author of Lean In:  “You need to think of your career as a jungle gym,” she says.  “Ladders are limiting.  Jungle gyms offer more creative exploration. There are many ways to get to the top of a jungle gym. The ability to forge a unique path with occasional dips, detours and even dead ends presents a better chance for fulfillment.”

And that’s great news for all working women.

Since 1974, Innovative Employee Solutions (IES) has grown to be one of San Diego’s largest women-owned businesses.  IES is a leading national provider of outsourced payroll and HR administration services, serving as the Employer of Record for thousands of employers and recruiters in the U.S. and Canada

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IES celebrates 50 years of innovative workforce solutions!