Dual-income families became the new normal in recent decades. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 63 percent of married-couple families had both parents employed in 2018. The same trend emerged in Canada, where the Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada found that the number of Canadian families with two employed parents nearly doubled between 1976 and 2015.
Couples in dual income households have difficult decisions to make when starting families. Women who want to take time away from their careers to raise children no doubt recognize the long-term effects that such a decision may have on their careers. Researchers behind the “Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research” report released in October 2018 found that women who leave the workforce at age 31 and do no reenter it for five years can expect to earn 20 percent less over their lifetimes than male counterparts who never left the workforce. That’s a significant loss in earning potential, but one that millions of women accept each year.
Reentering the workforce after a long period of not working is a challenge, but it’s one that women can overcome with the help of a handful of strategies.
• Get a head start. Fair or not and intentionally or not, prospective employers may attach a stigma to applicants who have not worked in several years. There’s no guaranteed way to clear that hurdle, but volunteering or interning in your field and/or taking a course at a local college before you begin your job search can serve as something of a head start. This can be a great way to dust off old skills and learn about any changes within the industry that took place during your hiatus.
• Deemphasize chronology on your résumé. The online job bank Monster.com recommends using your résumé to highlight your skills and accomplishments instead of your dates of employment. This shifts the focus away from your time out of the field and toward your experience and previous successes.
• Get in touch with your network. Many professionals advance their careers with the help of a strong network of fellow professionals. So it makes sense to contact this network when you’re reentering the workforce. Former colleagues can be great sources regarding job openings and changes in the industry that might have taken place while you were out of the loop. Reach out to them and let them know you’re ready to reenter the workforce.
• Consider part-time work. If a full-time offer is not materializing, consider part-time work. Part-time work will bring some money into the household, let you ease back into working and give you a chance to add some recent experience to your résumé. And part-time jobs may ultimately lead to offers for full-time work.
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