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How to kick-start your career after kids

©iStockphoto.com/AnthonyRosenberg Image by: ©iStockphoto.com/AnthonyRosenberg Author: Canadian Living

Family

How to kick-start your career after kids

After staying home with your children for an extended period of time, returning to work can be exciting, overwhelming and emotionally draining all at the same time. On the one hand, you're excited to reconnect with colleagues, reboot your brain and earn a salary again. On the other, you're terrified that your industry, the economy and above all, you, may have drastically changed since you were last employed.

Invest in yourself
According to Geeta Sheker, the director of the Initiative for Women in Business at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, the biggest issue most women face when returning to their career is a lack of confidence. After years of immersing themselves in the world of playdates and Play-Doh, many moms question whether they still have what it takes to succeed professionally.

Sheker suggests that women will have an easier transition back into the paid workforce if they take the time to invest in themselves while they're away from it. They can do this, for example, by maintaining their professional networks and retaining memberships in professional associations. This will help them keep their contacts and stay on top of industry trends, two things that will go a long way in their job search.

The dreaded gap
Taking the time to invest in yourself also helps you address the gap in your resume. As the job search website monster.ca points out, employers prefer to hire workers who have a recent track record.

"Women should focus on other transferable skills that they've acquired during their time at home, such as volunteer work, courses and part-time work," advises Sheker. "Employers will take these things into account."

For Andrea Avellaneda, this approach was critical to her success. A former consultant in Colombia, Avellaneda decided to return to work once her twin girls were three years old. She enrolled in the Initiative for Women in Business' Back to Work Program to help her relaunch her career in Toronto. The program, she says, not only provided professional and practical support, such as child care, but it also connected her to 30 other women going through the same process and led her to a job at a top-tier Canadian financial institution.

"The program reminded me that I'm still me," says Avellaneda. "I have the same skills and abilities that I've always had. I'm just as talented as I was before."
Build your network before you even begin your job search
Job seekers are often advised to put themselves "out there." While face-to-face meetings are obviously the most ideal way to do this, today's hyper-connected culture means you can put your experience, goals and skills out there without even leaving the house. You can – and should – get connected long before you even start your job search. Social media can help you achieve this.

Here are some tips on how to use social media to help you build and maintain momentum in your job search.

Use business-related social networking sites
As of this writing, LinkedIn operates the world's largest professional network on the Internet, yet according to recent data from Nielson it doesn't rank among the top five social media and blogging sites for moms. While moms are savvy bloggers and social media users, they're not necessarily using professional sites where they can connect with potential employers, colleagues and recruiters.

• Be consistent. The employment history on your resume should match your LinkedIn profile. Job descriptions can differ slightly, but key facts such as companies, dates and titles should be consistent.

• Make yourself search-able. Your profile on Twitter should include a short bio, including what city you live in, and a link to a website that recruiters can visit for more information about you, such as your website or LinkedIn profile. Your Twitter name should be your real name as it will help people find you in search engine results.

• Think of yourself as a brand.
Blogging is more than just producing content – it's an inventive way to market yourself and to promote your passions and ideas.

You're not alone
According to a December 2010 Statistics Canada report in 2009 only 66.5 percent of women with children under the age of six were employed. This number jumped to 78.5 percent with women whose youngest child was between the ages of six and 15. This represents a lot of women who eventually re-enter a work world that can be competitive and demanding even for those who have never left it. Fortunately, between the influx of recruiters, job coaches, career services programs and social and mobile media, women have more resources at their fingertips than ever before.
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How to kick-start your career after kids

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