Make us your home page
Instagram

Moms returning to work find daunting job market

MIAMI — After dropping her kids off at school, Ellen Shupak heads to a job interview. This time, she's prepared to explain the gap in her resume and prove that even after five years at home, her sales skills still are sharp.

Rising fuel and food prices and an ailing economy have forced stay-at-home moms back into the work force. But these women now find themselves in a heated job market, competing with recent college grads and downsized professionals.

As she enters a room filled with out-of-work men in suits at a networking event, Shupak thinks she already has one strike against her: "They know I am a mother with familial responsibilities."

The predicament has left returning mothers like Shupak asking: How can I get an edge? To be sure, the job market is fierce. The nation's unemployment rate is at its highest point in five years, with more than 600,000 jobs cut year to date. And many industries have experienced consolidation.

Be upfront but don't say too much

Curt Nichols, vice president of HR for City Furniture, scrutinizes resumes regularly and questions anyone with a gap in employment — male or female. He advises at-home mothers to take an upfront approach, stating something such as "from 2000 to 2005 I was out of the work force raising a child." When perusing that resume, he says, "I give the person credit for being honest and for getting back into the work force. It prevents me from coming up with my own conclusions." Of course, the interview process is what trips up some moms.

"People talk themselves out of jobs with more information than necessary," Nichols says. He recommends against bringing up any conversation during the interview about current or prior child-care arrangements. If those concerns are raised, he suggests a quick response: "I am 100 percent available to work the schedule you are requesting me to meet." Play up skills and use your Internet savvy

Linda Fredrick of Miami remembers steering the conversation to her strengths during a successful interview. After 16 years at home raising and schooling her kids, Fredrick knew she would need to play up her skills rather than rely on her degree in psychology and work history from many years ago. "I talked a lot about my volunteer work and how I did it in a professional manner," she says.

Fredrick landed the interview by polishing her Internet savvy. Using the social networking Web site LinkedIn, she developed contacts, researched companies and contacted HR executives.

Frederick aced the interview for the job as a family work/health specialist at Le Jardin Community Center in Homestead. Strategize. Consider temp work

Hiring experts advise all moms to strategize before any interview. "You really need a thorough assessment of your strengths and values," says Nancy Collamer of Jobsandmoms.com. Otherwise, "you will have a difficult time communicating your value during an interview."

Collamer urges returning mothers to aim high. "If you just apply for low-level jobs, that's all you will be considered for."

Many moms say they tend to go for jobs with fewer responsibilities than before they left the work force. Some say they are not as driven by the dollar as they were before having kids, particularly if it means less availability for the family. The positions they seek often depend on whether the family needs income or benefits. Often they seek part-time or flexible work.

"Maybe temporary work is your way to go," says Emma Gilbey Keller, author of Comeback Moms. Remember, "your first piece of work is not your last."

Motherhood has its advantages

Of course, anyone looking for a job is told to network. But mothers have an advantage — the parents of their kids' friends.

After 14 years of scraping by, Diane Schick could no longer afford to stay home and keep her children in private school. She mentioned her job search to the parent of her son's friend. "I told her I really didn't know where to begin." The mother happened to be looking for a legal assistant. "The mommy network is where you get the most information."

Meanwhile, Shupak continues her search, now more prepared: "I've come up with a quicker reply to zingers," she says. "When questioned about parental responsibilities or my reasons for re-entering, I reinforce my experience and accomplishments."

Moms returning to work find daunting job market 10/04/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 8, 2008 5:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times

    Business

    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]