Across different industries worldwide, many professionals take a break in their career journey to start a family. At some point, eventually, when these stay-at-home parents wish to re-enter the workforce, it becomes rather tricky to explain their time away from the corporate world on their public/digital resumes or to an employer.
According to a 2018 study, stay-at-home parents are half as likely to get a job interview than parents who have been laid off. Employers said they viewed stay-at-home parents as less reliable, less deserving and less committed to work than unemployed parents.
In what could be termed “a bold step” towards normalising employment gaps and reframing hiring conversations, a professional networking site – LinkedIn – recently added a new feature that allows parents to use “stay-at-home mom” or “stay-at-home dad” as a job title.
This move by LinkedIn comes at a time when conversations around stay-at-home-parenting have become rife, with many opposing opinions as to whether it should be considered a full-time job or not. Consequently, professionals who intend to take a caregiving hiatus or are already doing so can proudly wear their sacrificial parenthood badge.
However, after years away from the workforce, stay-at-home parents may discover that the business world has undergone a shift, hence, rendering their experience and skills a bit stale. How can you keep up with the changes to remain relevant when you eventually decide to re-engage professionally?
Don’t stop networking
One of the ways to build personal connections with people is through networking. As a professional who would one day re-enter the workforce, this cannot be ruled out. Attending industry-relevant conferences, webinars/seminars, or online workshops could get you connected to like-minded people like yourself and help you stay abreast of industry trends. In the business world, who you know matters, establishing and maintaining warm relationships could be of immense help to you in your future job search.
Update your skillset
It would help if you didn’t wait until you are about to begin your job search before you start reading up on the latest trends in your industry. The process could become overwhelming for you, and catching up may seem unrealistic. Begin polishing your skillset now by taking online courses and familiarising yourself with new technologies and software relevant to your career. Udemy and Coursera have several courses that will help you achieve this.
Do volunteer work
Volunteer work may be unpaid, but it can be highly beneficial as it helps you align with future career goals and allows you to put your skills in addition to learning new techniques. Through volunteering, you build contact with others in your field and enhance your work portfolio.
Stay in touch
You’ve left your job behind, but it’s essential to stay connected with the people you used to work with because they may play a critical role in your next career move. For example, they might act as a reference for your next job, or you may even end up working together again. Once in a while, send personal emails or chats or a phone call to keep the connection alive. Also, attend professional association meetings or join a company alumni network.
Be more social and current
Engage fully with all of your social media platforms. Follow industry leaders and connect with former colleagues and industry members to better understand the current standards of experience, technology, and methodology. Optimising your LinkedIn profile is one of the many ways to stay current, involved and active career-wise.
It’s heartwarming to see a social media channel like LinkedIn use its platform to draw attention to a lingering issue of huge impact. This could be an eye-opener for many employers who may otherwise forget that behind the stay-at-home phase is a professional who has hitherto expertly led teams or successfully delivered on set objectives and goals. Seeing as LinkedIn has taken the first step, do you think companies should take this up immediately? We’d love to hear your thoughts.