Last month, when I was a vendor at the Mommunity Market, I met Melanie. She approached my booth and asked about my services. During our conversation, I learned that she ran her own website, a place for parents to go for parenting tips, inspiration, recipes and more (MommaBraga.com).
Melanie, like many others, had no idea that my services existed for stay at home moms. She asked if she could interview me so her readers could learn more about SAHM Coaching.
Fast forward and my interview with Melanie is posted on her blog. In the interview she asks four questions. Give it a read and learn about how you can benefit from the services. Click on the link below to read the full interview.
Contemplating going back to work? If so, there will be time between you making the decision to return and you finding the right job, so use the time wisely.
Here are five things you can do when you're thinking about returning to the workforce.
Get Your Head Back in the Game
Time to switch gears from kids and family life towards what you want to do. Start by looking up articles and information online to learn about industry news, and reacquaint yourself with the vocabulary and the latest jargon.
Reconnect With Your Professional Contacts
Look up your colleagues and co-workers from past jobs and see who you can reach out to. Ask them about the company’s latest news and what’s exciting for them at the moment. If you’re not sure what you want to do, you can ask people from your network for ‘informational interviews’. Talk to them about what they do - people love to talk about themselves!
Manage the Gap on Your Resume
Once you’ve dusted off that resume, the next step is to decide what you want to add to it. You cannot hide your stay a home experience, so instead draw attention to your skills. Take a moment and refer to my earlier blog post on ‘transferable skills’. Write about your experience in a way that highlights your achievements and successes that relate to the role you’re interested in.
Submit a Cover Letter that Gets to the Point
Create a cover letter that sets the narrative the way you want to tell it. Address your time away from work in a few sentences and then move on to state your commitment towards the role you’re applying for. Then demonstrate that you’ve done your homework by expressing your interest in the company and why the role excites you. Bonus marks if you can address it to the hiring manager or recruiter involved in the search!
Fill Your Professional Gap
If you want recent experience on your resume look for volunteer opportunities, short term contracts or freelance roles. Also, connecting with a temporary employment agency is a great way to get experience in the specific area of your interest, while getting a feel for different industries and organizations.
Follow these quick and easy confidence boosts for interviews!
Superstitions: it may seem silly that this is the first suggestion, but it works! Wear that bracelet, blouse or socks that you think will bring you luck. Having these tokens can lead to improved performance and self-confidence.
Music: listening to your favourite music on route to the interview can be so beneficial to both your mind and body. It may not be your preference, but listening to heavy-bass songs can promote more feelings of power.
Dress code: wear what you feel good in. But remember, it’s always better to go more formal than less.
Be on time: there’s absolutely no reason now, with Google Maps, that you should be late. Scope out the location, listen to news/traffic reports and give yourself extra time. If you arrive really early, you can spend the extra time preparing. Ideally you don’t want to arrive more than 15 minutes before your interview time.
Sit up: during the interview, sitting straight and with good posture can keep your self-esteem and mood up.
Active listening: nod along with the conversation. Research has shown that the up-and-down movement can improve confidence. It’s the confirmation that your brain needs to say “yes we can!”
Ask questions: the last question of an interview is usually “do you have any questions for us?” Don’t discard this question. Its purpose is to see what interest you’ve taken in the company, the job or the person you’ll be working for.
Be OK with failure: take the opportunity to learn, don’t waste the experience. Whether you get the job or not, will come down to many factors. Try not to take it personally and instead continue to build on what went well.
Practice and then practice some more: the best boost to your confidence is knowing and feeling well prepared. Your natural talent will only take you so far. Instead make sure you are putting in the required time to prepare as a way to help calm nerves and increase your performance.
Don’t underestimate the power of a handshake and its ability to influence! First impressions are made in a matter of seconds – what does your handshake say about you?
When greeting your interviewer think about these tips:
Too hot or too cold
Don’t start off the interview making excuses. Whether it’s the temperature outside or just your nerves, the person interviewing you doesn’t want to grab a sweaty or ice cold hand. Washing your hands just prior to the interview is a great quick fix in either scenario.
Get a Grip
A really limp handshake or one where you only use the tips of your fingers is a sure fire way to ruin a handshake. Practice shaking hands and be sure to use your whole hand, while at the same time, applying a firm but friendly squeeze.
While shaking hands, remember to focus your attention on the interviewer. A smile along with good eye contact demonstrates your keen interest and creates a welcoming start.
One and Done
A handshake should not last long. Holding on for too long will create a sense of awkwardness. Also, don’t make the mistake of shaking your interviewers hand like you would a Martini. A quick pump, up and down, should do it.
Having a great handshake won’t guarantee you a job, but don’t let it stand in the way either!
I like to think of coaching as an investment in yourself. It’s an investment that pays dividends even after the coaching ends. Whether you’re looking to make improvements, build confidence or simply take control, working with a coach can provide the motivation you need.
As a mom, I like to seek out the advice of others when it comes to my kids. The reason why I do this is so I can make informed decisions. Working with a coach can offer you the exact same benefit, but for yourself. You’re provided access to the expertise and knowledge of someone who really knows and understands your objectives. A coach doesn’t have all the answers, instead they have the right questions that will help guide you.
Having a balanced perspective is another benefit of coaching. When you have an outside point of view (from someone other than a friend or family member) it can help you recognize your true value. A coach uses a variety of tactics that will help provide insights into your skills and abilities and give you constructive feedback along the way.
Another benefit of coaching is that it helps to address the feelings of being stuck or confused. In most cases you know “what” you want to do – you want to find a job that meets your expectations. The hard part is “how” you do that. A coach will help bring clarity and direction to your actions, offering you a personalized plan so that you can see results faster.
If you’re ready to make an investment in yourself, I’m ready help you achieve your goals.
My expertise. Your success.
Traditional interviews are still the go-to process as a way of evaluating candidates. HR and/or a hiring manager still ask candidates to talk about their skills and experiences as a way to determine if they are a fit for the job. This has been the industry standard for years! And because of this, it’s also a great source of stress! But the stress can be minimized by following some simple tips.
Depending on the company, your first interaction may be a telephone interview. These are usually quick, to the point and their purpose is to confirm that you meet specific requirements of the role. Make sure you are prepared. Don’t be surprised if the person calling starts in with their questions immediately after confirming they have the right person. When you are in job search mode, carry information with you at all times on the roles and companies you’ve applied to so you can access them quickly.
A phone interview may then be followed by an in-person interview or a panel interview. During an in-person interview questions may range from traditional to behavioural. Take your time to really listen to the question being asked and give yourself time to process. Don’t be worried about the silence. It’s not necessary to fill every moment. I’ve seen candidates come to an interview with a note pad to write down the key parts of my question. What a smart idea. By doing that you create a visual cue and it helps keep you focused when answering. Stress makes your brain do things it wouldn’t do under different circumstances. So the less you can leave to chance the better.
Behavioural questions work on the premise that past behaviour is a predictor of future behaviour. These questions usual start with “tell me about a time when…” I highly recommend that you have a copy of your resume in front of you as a way to easily recall past experiences. When answering behavioural questions make sure your answer has the following three sections:
This system will ensure that you provide a complete answer and keep you from getting off track – another symptom of stress!
Lastly, don’t forget about non-verbal cues, they can give away more than you know. Distracting hand gestures or lack of eye contact can affect your success. Specific body language like crossing your arms, your posture or fidgeting will factor into the decision making process. Take the time to do mock interviews with a friend of family member and have someone video tape it. It’s a great way to find out if you have any unconscious gestures or movements.
The interview process can be nerve racking or you can take control and do something about it.
When I think back on all the resumes I’ve seen, which ones do I remember the most? The ones that stood out - for all the wrong reasons!
On your own, you can find lots of web sites, books, and articles that dive deep into the topic of how to prepare a resume. Instead, I’d like to share tips that are from the point of view of the recruiter. Here are five things that you can do to make the recruiter’s job easier and therefore, potentially, have it work in your favour:
1. Save your resume as a PDF.
A PDF file is easy to share with hiring managers and it also prevents any unexpected edits from happening. It’s a simple step that you can do right in Microsoft WORD. Maintain a WORD version on your computer so you can make updates at any time.
2. Save the document with your name as the file name.
There’s no need to get fancy. Call your resume document, YOURNAME_RESUME. And your cover letter (if you do a separate one), YOURNAME_COVER LETTER. It makes it easier for the recruiter to know which is which and it’s a great way to reinforce your name and keep it top of mind.
3. Provide a professional email address.
This might sound trivial, but this is where some past resumes have made me laugh out loud! I’ve seen email addresses that included “hot”, “cutie” and “juicy” in their names. Instead, keep it simple: Firstname.Lastname@emailprovider.com. It makes following up with applicants much easier.
4. Ensure all your contact info is correct and consistent.
I’ve had this happen where an applicant provided an email address (or phone number) in their cover letter and it was different then what was written on their resume. Not a good first impression.
5. Take your time to proof read and check for spelling errors.
When a lot of time is spent staring at and editing your own work, you’re bound to miss some mistakes. Always get someone else to proof read your work. It looks really bad when you’ve listed “detail-oriented” as a skill and errors are found on your resume!
My last comment is on the choice of resume format: Chronological vs Functional. I think the chronological resume is the better option. This choice makes sense no matter how long you’ve been at home. Chronological resumes, if done correctly, still allow you to showcase your accomplishments and skills while helping the recruiter understand your career history. And it’s a great tool when preparing for interviews.
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You've made the decision to go back to work. It might be the same type of work you did before, or you might want to do something completely different. Either way, the number of postings can get overwhelming. Here’s a way to prevent that.
Focus on the job requirements. Sounds simple but there’s more to it. Ideally you should be fulfilling at least 70% of the requirements, because that’s how most HR departments are determining whether or not you make the first cut. After that you will eventually meet the hiring manager. The questions asked during the interview will undoubtedly come from those same requirements.
Let’s look at the difference between “transferable skills” and “technical skills”. Of course job postings don’t break it down that way (that would be too easy). Instead, it’s up to you when looking at the requirements section of the posting, to figure it out.
Transferable skills should be where you’ll check off most of the boxes. Below is a list of the most common transferable skills. From the list below, you’ll see quite quickly that some of these skills are already in your repertoire:
The tough part is how you convey those skills to an employer on your resume or during an interview. But it’s not impossible. Start by choosing one of the above skills and then reflect on your daily, weekly and monthly activities. Build a list of examples. Do it for each transferable skill. Then work those examples into the “accomplishments” section of your resume. During an interview, use those examples to help you respond and answer questions.
Technical skills are more black and white. Either you have them or you don’t. These include skills and/or knowledge that has a specific focus (i.e. graphic designer, network administrator, an accounting designation, etc.). In most cases these skills would have been obtained through your education or from professional associations.
If you keep your job search laser focused, you’ll make better use of your time and (hopefully) in less time, see the results you want.
Ok, you've figured out what kind of work you're looking for. You’ve crafted a wonderful resume and you’re ready to start job hunting. Awesome! What does that look like exactly?
Well, depending on when you decided to stay at home and the last time you looked for work, you might have been looking at a print ad. Yeah that’s right – a newspaper/trades magazine! I remember creating a folder for each different magazine and newspaper so I could keep the deadlines, costs and print dates straight. While somethings have changed, not everything has when it comes to finding out who’s hiring.
Online job sites are the most popular way to find out who hiring and what jobs are available. I often get asked, what are the best sites to find a job? Here are some of the more popular sites where employers are posting:
The list goes on really. The good news is that most of these sites allow you to set up an alert for future postings. So get specific with your industry of interest, location and type of work; no point filling up your inbox unnecessarily. When you receive a notification, make sure you read the full posting. Just because it matches your search criteria, you still should make sure it matches your interest criteria.
Another great way to find work is through networking. Networking can uncover those opportunities that are not posted, and unlike the above method, it can really minimize your competition. Meetup.com is a great way to connect with like-minded individuals. But keep it simple to start. Think about who you know. Make a list of friends, family, and other moms. You’d be surprised how long that list will become! Once you spread the word that you’re looking to go back to work, your reach and chances to learn about opportunities increases substantially!
Alternatively, you could get someone else to do the search for you. Partnering with a Recruitment agency can be like one stop shopping. Some popular agencies are:
Not all agencies are created equally, so best to partner with one that specializes in your area of interest. The process is simple: you meet with one of their representatives, give them your resume and tell them what you’re looking for. They in turn, comb through their database of open opportunities and look for matches. Of course, the trade-off is that the work may be short term and it’s difficult to control where you end up working.
Whether you use one method, or a combination, it's important to use the method that works best for you!
Have you ever heard someone say, “I think I over-prepared for that test!”? Probably not. Well the same holds true when interviewing. It’s not to say that preparation alone will guarantee you a job, I'm not that naive. But, preparation is a key factor in building confidence. When you’re confident, you feel less stress, and when you’re less stressed there’s good chance that you’ll perform better.
Don’t skimp on the amount of time you prepare and don’t wait until you receive an interview invite. Job interview preparation should start early, so no matter how much notice you're given, you’ll be ready!
So where do you start? Here are 3 key subjects you should know better than anyone else:
First impressions are so important. You have less than 10 seconds before the other person has already made a judgement about you. So, make sure it’s a good one. Start of by knowing where you’re going, how to get there and don’t be late. Make sure your choice of clothing, greeting and handshake start things off in the right direction. Many employers like to conduct “telephone interviews” before any face to face interviews as a way to screen out applicants. Just because it’s over the phone doesn’t mean you’re free from first impressions. How you answer the phone and where you are when you take the call all factor into the decision making process.
Whether the interview is in person or over the phone, your next massive hurdle is how well you communicate. Whether you wrote your own resume or someone else helped you, it’s so important to know your resume inside and out. Knowing your own story will be an important determinant in how well you can answer the questions that are asked of you.
Interviews should be viewed as a two-way process. Be prepared with your own questions and ask questions that show your keen interest in the role and/or the company.
Just knowing the job title is not enough. Review the job posting and take some time to understand the duties and expectations of the role. Whoever prepared the posting did so with the intention of attracting the right candidate. There’s nothing more frustrating when speaking to an applicant and it’s clear that they don’t have a clue about the job. It’s pretty obvious when job seekers are using the tactic of throwing out resumes to any and all postings to see “what sticks”.
You can almost bet that the interview questions will focus on the key duties of the job. Look for similarities in your own experiences and where your skills match.
Most postings will mention who the position reports to and/or the department. Look online (LinkedIn is a valuable tool) to see what else you can find out about that person; chances are they will be part of the interview process.
Lastly, learn something about the company/organization that you’ve applied to. Most companies have a website and it really doesn’t take long to find out some key facts. See what you can learn about their financials, are they stable or are they on the brink of bankruptcy? Do they have a mission statement? What do they talk about in terms of employees (i.e. benefits, training or development)?
Finding a job can be a full-time job! But with the right preparation your search could end sooner rather than later!