by Amy Misenhimer
Amy is enthusiastically married to her best friend and they share 2 crazy, amazing kids! She considers herself blessed beyond measure! Amy is a mom that gets loud on the sidelines and cries during Hallmark commercials. Her non-negotiables include her dogs, peanut butter and chocolate, lazy days on the lake, a book you get lost in, HGTV & Bravo, live music, Vol football, nail polish and sushi.
I love being a mom. In fact, before kids I was just a watered-down version of myself. So many priorities shift with the responsibilities of parenthood, like career. Prior to having children, my husband and I decided that I would step away from my career to be the primary care giver to our children and I would re-enter the workforce once they were school-aged. Makes sense, right? In the several years that I was afforded the opportunity to stay at home with my kids, what I failed to realize was: that I yearned to be engaged professionally, I wanted to keep my skills sharp and I enjoyed the flexibility of volunteering. In addition to that, the financial implications during my time off were considerable. A recent study shows that a two-year career break equates to a 39% loss of lifetime earnings. Could I prioritize my family, continue to be engaged professionally, increase my marketability and ultimately earn my 39% back? Heavy questions to consider, but simple to address. For those women that experience a career hiatus to raise children, care for elderly parents, health issues or other situations, there are several things you can accomplish during your break to ensure a successful re-entry:
- Stay connected. Don’t let your professional network fizzle. Just as you take time to schedule play dates, schedule time to have coffee or lunch with former colleagues. Polish your LinkedIn profile and virtually connect/contribute to relevant industry groups. Here’s a webinar MomSource Network hosted that shows you how to build your LinkedIn network.
- Sharpen your skills & stay up-to-date. At this point you are hands-down, a time management pro and multi-tasking queen. Ensure you keep up your hard skills (or even learn new ones) by participating in online courses you can take at your leisure. Read industry magazines, articles and podcasts to stay current and on market trends.
- Be engaged. Think about the time your children spend doing homework, practicing sports or other lessons. Do we dedicate the equivalent time to develop ourselves? You might not have the capacity to work a part time job, but don’t neglect the opportunity to volunteer, consult on a project or freelance. These positions can (and should) be listed on your resume and “fill in the gap.”
Revisit your future career goals. If you are planning to re-enter, change jobs or industries completely, these simple steps can equate to huge success. Find time each week to dedicate to your own professional development. Not only have you earned it, you deserve it.