How To Get Hired After a Career Break for Caregiving
Almost half of moms of school-aged children weren’t working during the height of the pandemic, according to Census data. A year later, 1.4 million moms who were previously employed were still out of work.
If you’re one of them–or if you’ve taken time off for caregiving for other reasons–you might be wondering how to frame your career pause in job interviews. Maybe you’ve struggled with explaining resume gaps to employers before, or you’ve heard that hiring managers are reluctant to give a chance to candidates with breaks in their employment.
But the challenges of the past few years have helped many to evolve their thinking. Getting hired after time away from work may be easier than you think. It’s just a matter of showing that you have what it takes to do the job.
Frame Your Career Break
LinkedIn recently introduced a new feature called Career Breaks. It allows users to account for resume gaps and highlight the skills they learned during, say, maternity leave or time out for caregiving.
Apart from updating your LinkedIn profile and resume, you’ll want to figure out how to talk about your break during job interviews. Consider how your skills have grown during your time away. Did you become a better multitasker, more empathetic, more adept at time management? Maybe you volunteered at your child’s school, edited the HOA newsletter, or helped neighbors organize a meal train. Don’t sell those experiences short.
Most of all, remember to keep your explanations brief and confident. Explain your break…then move on.
Brush Up on Your Skills
Many offices use Excel, Powerpoint, etc. in their everyday operations, and the programs are updated often. If you want to brush up on your office skills before heading back into the workforce, there are plenty of online classes and tutorials to get you up to speed on the newest versions of Office. You can find free training at the Microsoft 365 Training Center and on YouTube. Paid courses through Udemy and GoSkills issue a certificate of completion, which, although not accredited, could look snazzy on your resume.
The best thing you can do is to find out the steps you need to take to set yourself up for easier re-entry into the workforce before you leave it. That could mean keeping your license, certification, or skills current, even if you’re not planning to use them in the near future. But let’s face it, sometimes that isn’t possible. Becoming a parent is a huge life change, and you have to let some things slide in order to give your attention to this monumental task.
Here are three examples of certifications you can get back when you’re ready.
If your certification has expired, go to your state’s education department for specific requirements and to complete a reinstatement application. You may also have to complete a reinstatement form and the necessary continuing education credits. For example, in Maryland, a teacher wanting to reinstate an expired certificate must complete six hours of credit or have a valid professional certificate issued by a member state, as well as verification of three years of experience within the last seven years. Several community colleges, such as Community College of Baltimore County, have online options for recertification. Look into the community colleges in your state, as they will have state-specific classes.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
LCSWs are required to renew their licenses every two years after obtaining 40 hours of continuing education credits. My friend Jill stayed home with her son for the first few years of his life. In Maryland, where she holds her license, she could apply to place her license on inactive status for up to five years. Once back at work, she had to complete the 40 hours of continuing education requirements within two years of reinstating, plus pay the fee.
Kristina is licensed in three states. She moved around quite a bit due to her husband’s job, and she let a couple of her licenses lapse while she wasn’t practicing, due to the fees associated with keeping current on all of them. Once she decided to get reinstated, it took five to six months of calling to finally get through to someone. Kristina was persistent and gave herself time to get in touch with the right people to help her get reinstated.
Suppose your certification has lapsed and you’re within two years from the date it expired. In that case, you can reactivate your certification by completing an application for reactivation, doing the certification renewal requirements, and paying all required fees. If it’s been more than two years since your certification expired and the same test is available, you must do all of the above and retest and pass the certification examination in the same specialty of your lapsed certification.
Parenting is a full-time job in itself. This period away from your career has likely been one of the most challenging times in your life. Make sure your prospective employers know how you’ve risen to the task, and play up the skills you’ve honed during your work hiatus. Once you get those certifications in line, you’ll be an even more valuable worker than you were before you had children.