Increasing search may help mom find job

May 19, 2008


Q: I've heard that many women have stayed home to raise children and later have returned to the work force with no problems. But after six years of staying home, I've applied to several companies in my field and have gotten only one interview.

I'm not sure what the problem is or why I'm not being considered. Can you help me? - Teresa

J.T.: Unfortunately, I haven't heard that it's been easy for moms to find work after staying home with their children. One study says that a woman loses 10 percent of her earning potential for every year she stays out of the work force. As a result, that puts you in competition with a pool of younger talent, many without family responsibilities.

Dale: First, as a former market researcher, that 10 percent figure has to be inflated. It certainly doesn't need to apply to you, Teresa, and I hope you won't dramatically lower your salary expectations.

Instead, dramatically increase your search. It's true that anyone who's been out of the work force for six years is going to meet resistance because of the increasing pace of technological change. At the same time, downsized work forces have made hiring managers eager to hire "hit the ground running" employees. That makes anyone who's been out of the work force a long-shot for any given job ... which just means that you need more "shots" to find a great job.

To have contacted "several companies" means that you haven't really started.

J.T.: You can get restarted by taking a class and/or going to professional association meetings in your field so that when you get to interviews, you're able to share how you have readied yourself to re-enter the workplace.

Meanwhile, get networking! Both in person and online. For more information on how to use social networking tools to find work, listen to my podcast on the subject at

And finally, one bit of mom-to-mom advice: Returning to work is a serious decision. And so, returning moms tend to come across in interviews as serious. Unfortunately, this can have a negative impact in the interview.

So, try to remember to not take the process too seriously - you'll make it easier for employers to welcome you into their ranks.


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