What is a good way to get back to working after a long absence of being a stay home mom? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Sara Shepherd, Digital brand & design geek, mom, on Quora:

It sort of depends on what kind of work you are looking for, but here is what I recommend:

  • Begin volunteering for events or companies in the field you wish to work for now while looking for a job - this counts as experience which you can put on your resume, and is a great way to hear about job openings.
  • Attend networking events and Meetup groups to build a professional network.
  • If applicable, refresh your skill with an online certification course. There are hundreds out there, some are free. You can do this from home while the kids are asleep. Put this on your resume to show your education is current / continuing.
  • Refine your personal brand (see The Complete Guide to Building Your Personal Brand). A majority of companies now check your social media profile(s) as part of the hiring process. I say start by ensuring your Facebook is private - employers don't need to see that stuff. If you have a Twitter account that is identifiable as you, make sure the tweets are appropriate (even better would be to begin tweeting about your industry or the industry you want to be in). Spruce up your Linkedin. If it makes sense, make your own website where you can blog about the industry and your experience. Heck, you could even blog about the transition from full time mother to working mother!
  • Don't be discouraged. I opperated under a 1/10 rule: apply for ten jobs and hope that one company would get back to me. I found that the more thought I put into the cover letter, the better the outcome was. I highly recommend reading this Medium post on applying for jobs online: "Why I didn't look at your resume"

My story:

I was out of work for nearly two years, beginning when I was pregnant (my husband was deployed so I moved home) through my daughter's first 11 months. Going back to work was difficult emotionally (I felt a lot of "bad mom" guilt for wanting to work) but I severely missed the intellectual stimulation, social bonds, and sense of self that a career provides.

I began my path back into the professional world by starting my own blog in which I wrote about the tech sector. Eventually I got brave enough to reach out to tech professionals in my city I admired and asked to interview them for my blog. Nearly everyone said yes! They were excited to be interviewed - it made them feel special. This allowed me to learn a lot, work my way into the tech sector, and begin building a network of professionals.

I picked up freelance work and "gigs" on craigslist whenever I could (writing, web design stuff). These gigs tended to pay poorly but I added those experiences on my resume and it began to look quite impressive.

At the same time, I joined Meetup and began attending events related to tech, networking, and working moms. I learned about openings and companies, and continued to expand my network.

I also volunteered for tech events and organizations, found through our local tech "switchboard" site, Reddit forum, and craigslist (they have a huge volunteer section).

Basically, going back into the professional world WAS my full time job. After three months, I had established a "professional identity," met great people and individuals, and was able to find a job at a local tech company. As a nice bonus, running my own website taught me skills which eventually lead me to a different career a year later.

Good luck - you can do this! It's easier than cleaning up spilled milk and crackers from the carseat.

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Published on: Mar 3, 2017