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Back to School, Back to Work

by Jessica McQuistin

The fall chill signals back to school and for some stay-at-home parents, thoughts turn to a return to the workforce. If only it was as easy as stepping onto a big yellow bus and being whisked away to your new job! Parents getting back into the workforce face multiple challenges including juggling roles, marketing their skills and coordinating childcare. Before jumping into the job search, it’s important to spend some time planning.

First, determine what type of work arrangement (full-time or part-time, employment or self-employment) best suits your family’s needs. Also, reassess what factors (e.g. salary, benefits, location, flexible hours) are most important now that children are added to the equation.

Parents who have been away from work for a period of time may feel out-of-touch with today’s workplace. For example, increasingly jobs require computer skills and many companies expect you to apply online so a first step in the back-to-work transition might include a computer course. Any training that can boost confidence and refresh workplace skills can be helpful.

Another challenge is to complete a resume when the past few months or years have consisted mainly of parenting responsibilities. The functional or combination resume formats can highlight your skills while drawing attention away from the gap in your work history. Consider your skills and activities such has any volunteer work you did in the community, helping out at your child’s school, coaching a team or helping with fundraisers. Those are all great experiences to highlight.

A unique advantage that parents have is their community connections; many of which were formed from their children’s social activities. Networking is a key component in looking for work and parents should certainly turn to their friends, other parents and acquaintances for job leads, referrals and moral support.

A common concern for parents returning to work is finding a safe, nurturing care provider for their children. While it can take time, finding the right option for your needs will help ease the transition and give you the peace of mind you need to focus on your job search.
Going back to work is a significant change for both children and their parents and it will take time for everyone to adjust. However, it can be a rewarding experience in which both parents and children discover their independence and savour their time together even more.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with the back-to-work transition, contact a local Employment Ontario agency such as Lutherwood for the free support you need.