4 Essential Tips for Moms Re-Entering the Workforce

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GOBankingRates wants to empower women to take control of their finances. According to the latest stats, women hold $72 billion in private wealth — but fewer women than men consider themselves to be in “good” or “excellent” financial shape. Women are less likely to be investing and are more likely to have debt, and women are still being paid less than men overall. Our “Financially Savvy Female” column will explore the reasons behind these inequities and provide solutions to change them. We believe financial equality begins with financial literacy, so we’re providing tools and tips for women, by women to take control of their money and help them live a richer life.

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In today’s column, we chat with Michelle Keefe, founder of MomUp — which connects working women with contract, temporary and fractional executive positions — to get her best advice for moms re-entering the workforce.

Between March and April of last year, around 3.5 million mothers living with school-age children left active work, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. And as of January, around 10 million American mothers living with their own school-age children were not actively working — 1.4 million more than during the same month last year. But now with kids returning to school, many mothers will want to return to work. In addition, many women who were not working pre-pandemic are considering returning to the workforce as remote and flexible arrangements become the norm.

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These mothers will have to contend with a competitive job market, which can be extra daunting after an extended time out of work. But, fortunately, there are actions moms can take to stand out and get the jobs they want. Here is Keefe’s best advice for moms re-entering the workforce.

Read More: How Every Woman Can (and Should) Become a Confident Investor
More Help: 3 Alarming Ways Women Are Lagging Behind Men When It Comes to Their Finances

Start Your Search Early

Even if you don’t plan to return to work until the late summer or fall, you may want to start applying to jobs now.

“The candidate vetting process can be slow,” Keefe said. “I recommend starting the job search process three to four months in advance, and six to eight months [in advance] for senior and executive roles. It can take months for employers to read through resumes and perform initial screening calls before moving onto interview rounds. Get the process rolling sooner rather than later.”

See: Industries Where Women Lost the Most Jobs Last Year

Be Aware of Hiring Seasons Ebbs and Flows

You’re more likely to be hired during certain times of the year, Keefe said.

“At the start of the new year, organizations have an updated budget so they often are ready for new hires,” she said. “Fall is another great time when many companies want new employees before the year closes out. January and September also tend to be a competitive time of year, so get your feelers out early and begin networking.”

On the other hand, the “December holiday season and summer are the slowest times for hiring. This is the best time to start preparing yourself for a job search. Get your resume ready, enhance your LinkedIn profile with recommendations and refresh your interview skills.”

Bad News: Gender Pay Equity Is More at Risk Than Ever During the Pandemic

Market Yourself as an Expert

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No matter what field you are applying in, you want to come across as an expert in your industry.

“We live at a time when experts prevail,” Keefe said. “It’s harder to sell yourself on a role if you’re a generalist. Find the area that interests you the most and level up your skills and experience — whether it’s brand development or talent acquisition, find a niche and build a story around it. Craft your resume and LinkedIn to reflect the story. The key is, you are worth investing in and so is your career. Take the time and resources to engineer the career you want.”

Read: Best Expert Money Advice for Women

Don’t Shy Away From Discussing a Gap in Your Employment

If you’ve been out of work for a while because you’ve been focusing on child care duties, that’s totally acceptable and should not be something you try to hide from recruiters.

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“Own it. Don’t apologize for it,” Keefe said. “Include it in your professional summary and/or cover letter with one sentence to address that you paused your career for family responsibilities. In the body of your resume, include the experiences you had during the employment gap with volunteering, civic involvement, and any other relevant or interesting professional or educational opportunities. Show that you intentionally developed skills during this time period.”

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Last updated: May 3, 2021

About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 

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