Susan B., a former IT professional chose to stay home with her young children for around 5 years before re-entering the workforce. Even though she did her best to keep her skills current and even got a technical certification that is very much in demand, during her time being a stay-at-home mom, she found her experience of getting back in the workforce somewhat frustrating.
She went through many interviews and soon it became apparent to her that it was extremely hard to find the job that she exactly wanted. In her words “I felt it was impossible to find a job in the IT sector that offers flexible timing or part-time work schedule”.
It was after a few interview calls and futile applying for jobs online that she realized her skills were not up-to-date and though she was landing a few interviews she was not going anywhere from there.
Here let’s review how her journey was when re-entering the workforce.
RECRUITERS – experience with the recruiters or recruiting agencies
Susan did go through a few recruiting agencies but did not have a good experience. They matched her resume to almost any job requirement that mentioned “Java”. Perhaps the recruiting agencies just went by the major keywords on her resume and did not consider the whole picture where she needed special attention for being someone who has been out of the workforce and had special request on less travel and less commute time.
“I was practically sent out to any interview that remotely motioned “Java”. It was frustrating.”
RESUME – Resume updates when re-entering the workforce
Susan used a resume template (functional resume style) to tailor her resume for a person re-entering the workforce. She made sure that her cover letter also mentioned that she was a person who has some work experience gap. She preferred to have this clear up front than being confronted in an interview and having hers and the company’s time wasted if they were not interested in hiring her.
She mentioned in her resume and also mentioned during her screening interviews that she chose to take time off to take care of her kids and she also kept herself updated on the new skills in her field by taking up courses and certifying in a Java development module.
INTERVIEW OFFERS – Did networking work for her?
The majority of the job offers she got were through the internet job search and the company job postings online to which she applied.
Susan mentions that she had no luck with networking either, she tried pushing her resume around through the family or friends but nothing useful resulted. However, she regrets not being able to network effectively mainly because the network contacts she had over the years when she was working in a full-time job were lost. They had moved on from their jobs or city and she lost touch of them while being more focused with the family.
INTERVIEWS AND REJECTIONS – What did Susan find most frustrating?
After a few months of applying and interviewing, Susan felt the disappointment, “As it turns out, returning to work has been much harder than I anticipated. I interviewed at a company that says that they support a family/work balance and allows for flex-time & job sharing. During the interview I openly stated my desire to find an opportunity that would allow some flexibility and the manager (a woman with children) made it very clear that she would not support a flexible arrangement.
It’s very disappointing to think that I may not be able to resume my career that I had worked long and hard to build, just because I also want to be a good mother.”
Companies were not flexible and not understanding when flexible time was requested even though when they did say they support flexible working hours!
With not much response from the interviews, even though they promised getting back soon and seemed quite positive, she realized that it was time to take a step back and analyze her skill sets – were they outdated for the present job scene? Were the companies looking for more? Would taking more classes help her in getting back in the IT work force?
Or, did she have to change her choice in getting a job with different job description and not necessarily the one that she had before?
JOB SEARCH TIME MANAGEMENT- Where all did Susan waste her time
Susan says, “In the stressful 6 months looking for jobs, I wasted a lot of time giving interviews. It is not only the preparation for an interview, commuting large distance to appear personally and the excruciating wait in hearing back from them, but also the childcare expenses and arrangements and the limited time you have during the day that is so bothersome for a mother.”
Once during an interview for a job description that mentioned no travel requirements, the question popped more than half-way through that travel would be required, was she willing to take up on that?
Could this have been a strategy to get her to say no to the job instead of the company saying so? Whatever may be the case but it was a complete waste of her time and energy.
SETTING PRIORITIES – What did she REALLY want?
After a few pitfalls in the job search and not so fruitful driving and interviewing around the city, she figured out that it was time to reevaluate her priorities and stick to them. The more flexible she was being on accommodating commute time or on the type of company she wanted to be with, though she was getting interviews it finally struck to her that eventually it was increasing her stress levels and wasting her time. On a second analysis of the companies she was applying for, she realized she would not be happy with her compromise.
She figured out that she had to focus on what would not work for. A precise list helped her narrow down on her choices in her job search.
“I finally made my list:
- A long commute on a daily basis would not work for me.
- I am ready to give up on a high profile or high status job description, but I want a balanced life-style when I can return home at early hours to be with my family.
- I need work-life balance and am not ready to compromise on it. ”
Even though she focused on what would not work for her, she finally got down to the list on what she did want.
Once done with her priority list she decided to stick to her guns and even though it would be frustrating she had to learn to be more patient to get what she wants because that would be what would satisfy her in the long run.
Susan suggests, “Be open minded to the variety of potential things you could do and broaden your horizons to the different jobs or careers where you could fit in, these could be related to your previous work experience or something new.”
Susan’s Success Story
Susan now has a job that she always wanted, though she says ‘something has to give’, she is happy that she was able to get a part-time job that offers little commute time and the working hours that she wanted. Persistence and patience paid off for her but most importantly – sticking to her priorities. She could have accepted an offer that she got earlier which required a longer commute and some compromise on working hours, but she would not have been satisfied in the long term and another transition could have been very much apparent after a few years.
Summing it up, Susan says:
- Set your priorities and stick to them for a long time job satisfaction
- Network effectively and even if currently you are not in the job market but someday might be; build on your network
- You can get what you want; but it might take time, persistence and patience.
Thank you Susan B. for sharing your inspiring story!