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Good to Go: Advice for moms and dads returning to the workforce

Wednesday - 5/15/2013, 10:33am  ET

WokingMom.jpg
While jumping back into job hunting may seem daunting, there are tips to help ease the transition. (Thinkstock)

Katie Howard, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - For many families, there comes a time when a parent who has acted as the main caregiver and childcare provider for his/her family makes the decision to return to part-time or full-time employment. I say "employment" rather than "work" because raising and caring for children is work.

Despite reports that the economy is improving, it is still expensive to live in the D.C. area on one income. That said, reasons for returning to employment aren't always financial. Many parents find themselves longing to return to a career field they found rewarding before taking a parental hiatus.

While jumping back into job hunting may seem daunting, there are tips to help ease the transition. Kara Kehoe, founder of Kareers Coaching, offers several points to consider before heading back to the office.

  1. Assess and reassess yourself. Chances are your priorities and values have changed since the last time you were in the workforce, so it's important to discover more about yourself and how that translates into a job. What are your work values? What kind of work environment do you envision for yourself? What skills do you have, and how do they relate to a job? Seek help from a career coach to assess yourself through instruments such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Strong Interest Inventory. Other free resources include Mynextmove.org and Whatsnext.com.

  2. Update your skills. Using an online certification program on websites such as Expertrating.com and Brainbench.com -- or taking courses at your local community college -- are always great options when it comes to sharpening your skills. Also check out iRelaunch.com and the worldwide career reentry programs.

  3. Have someone critique your resume so you are putting your best self forward. Update your resume to include your most relevant work experience and any recent volunteer work or updated education. Keep it all on one-to-two pages.

  4. Learn how to use LinkedIn. It is one of the most effective online tools for networking, and recruiters are using it daily to find candidates. Have a professional profile and make sure you are using relevant keywords in your summary.

  5. Spread the word. Come up with a 30-second elevator pitch and tell everyone you are looking for a new opportunity. Be consistent with your brand -- have the same message in person, on Facebook, on LinkedIn and on your resume.

"Remember, job searching takes time and patience," Kehoe says. "Use your time wisely. Ask for help and network, network, network."

Editor's Note: WTOP's Katie Howard is a mom on the go. With two children under age 5, she's always looking for ways to provide her family fast and healthy snacks, meals and activities. Katie shares her go-to food and family fitness tips on her blog "Good to Go."

Follow @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter.

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