Any mother who has paused a career to stay home with kids knows how fulfilling it can be to raise one's own children instead of handing them off to a sitter or nanny. Even so, life happens and babies grow up, marriages fall apart or a family's financial needs change, propelling many moms to get back in the game.
But reentering the workforce can be challenging on many levels. Give yourself some head starts by taking advice from job-and-career expert Cheryl Casone, author of "The Comeback: How Today's Mom's Reenter the Workplace Successfully." Here are a few of her tips on how you can take control of the trajectory of your life.
1. Rebrand yourself.
Start thinking of yourself as a professional, a perception which will come across as you interact with people. And the more people who know you're going back to work, the better.
2. Engage with your network.
Ideally, you will have stayed in touch with former coworkers who can help play a part in your comeback. If not, find a way to reengage with them.
3. Pay attention to the news.
If you're going to show off your intelligence and professionalism you need to have something to talk about with your network that doesn't involve your children.
4. Expand your network.
This doesn't have to mean attending lunch and cocktail hour events. Simply strike up conversations with people who cross your path as you go about your day. You never know which of these new acquaintances may be able to put you in contact with the right person who can open a door to your new career.
5. Practice telling your story.
While it may be true that you're returning to work because your family needs the money, or because your kids are now in school, those aren't the stories that will sell yourself to an employer. Practice saying out loud what you love about working and what excites you about going back. "The more you practice talking about your background and your interest in returning to work, the better you'll sound," she writes, "and the better you sound, the more confident you'll feel."
6. Create a LinkedIn profile.
This one is a must. Recruiters use this professional network to find talent and employers use it as yet another lens from which to judge a prospective hire's value to their organization. Spend a few hours uploading a professional-looking head shot of and writing a summary which captures your skills and goals. In addition to completing a resume-like profile, you can use LinkedIn to easily ask former employers for a public recommendation.
7. Outsource your domestic duties.
Once you're on a solid path to working outside the home, make things easier on yourself. Find someone to watch your kids after school. Hire a house cleaner a couple time a month. Pay a neighborhood teenager to mow the lawn and shovel the snow.
"It can get expensive, but some forms of help don't have to be unaffordable," she writes. "And sometimes what seems expensive on the surface isn't so much when you factor in the value of the other things it allow you to accomplish or even enjoy."