It’s that time of the year when we start thinking about what we want to change or improve. The most common New Year’s resolutions usually involve eating better or exercising more, but mine has nothing to do with health or appearance.
After more than 11 years at home with my children, I am considering reentering the workforce. These past 11 years have been a gift I will always treasure, but now as my children head toward school age, this seems to be a good time for me — and for them — to explore new adventures.
I was a news producer at Fox Channel 2 for many years but left shortly after my oldest was born. I loved the job, especially the adrenaline rush of breaking news, but didn’t like the overnight shifts or working holidays. I won’t return to this career because I am 41 and trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Scary, right? It has been, but it has also been exciting and eye-opening to hear from many other women in the same situation. So how do we do it? Where do we start? If you are one of those women, here are some suggestions to help you take that first step.
I always tell my children when they are faced with something new and a bit scary to “be brave — you can do it.” When I began this process, I had to start taking my own advice, so I wrote it on a Post-it note and put it in my bathroom drawer. Every morning I see it, and it is a nice reminder.
It can be scary to reenter the workforce, and even taking those first few steps toward figuring it out requires courage. As with anything, when you haven’t done something in a while, your skills can get a little rusty, so you need to rebuild your confidence and just put yourself out there.
MAKE A PLAN
Sometimes determining where or how to start is the hardest. As with any big obstacle, it always helps me to write out a plan. The first two items were to update my resume and my LinkedIn account. These may sound like easy tasks, but when you have been out of the workforce, trying to put daily life into “actionable” skills can require some thought. Never underestimate this can be done: packing lunches, driving carpools, and setting up playdates can be translated into skills like organized, follows through, and ability to multitask — necessary skills for any job.
The next step is to decide what kind of work you would like to do — what jobs are interesting and would be conducive to a work-life balance? It may be something with flexibility or a job that allows you to work from home. The final step is to start networking. Let people know you are looking for a job and what type. Talk to people in that field or those who know someone who is. Sometimes the best jobs come from connections or our network, not from an Internet job listing.
HAVE A SUPPORT SYSTEM
Having a support system during this process is key — people (friends or former co-workers) you can bounce ideas off, cheer you on, and even point out things about your personality you didn’t realize. For me, this has been a small group of women in similar situations who are considering returning to work. We have met once a month for the last year. This group has been instrumental in many ways, including it has forced me to think and plan, and it has been great for sharing ideas. It also has been a fun process to go through with these talented women, whom I am sure will soon be taking the workforce by storm.
Support at home is also important because this will be a big change for your family. I am fortunate to have a husband who fully supports me returning to work and what that would mean for our family. Having two parents who work requires a lot of communication and compromise, and that everyone, including the kids, step up a little more and help with household chores.
There is a real need for more women in the workforce. Per a recent study, nearly a third of women in the workforce take a pause in their career to take care of family, but fewer than half of those women return to full-time jobs. The road to returning to work is not easy — overcoming the fear, anxiety, and self-doubt have been difficult, but now I am focused on the excitement of doing something new.