rss search

Re-entering the Work Force


Dear Frank Manners,

Ten years ago, I decided to put my career on hold so I could stay at home and raise my two boys. Now that they are older, I have decided to re-enter the workforce.

It has been a while since I was in a professional atmosphere. Could you offer any tips on interviewing to get a good job at my age and experience level?

Sincerely, New Working Mom,

Dear NWM,

First you will need to refresh your resume. There are many different styles and templates of resumes to choose from so just pick one you like. Have a friend help you proofread for errors and to make sure you’re not missing anything. Always dress nicely for your interview. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. You don’t have to spend a lot to look professional. A professional wardrobe can be crafted from a stop at a thrift store or two. You’ll need at least one white shirt, a black skirt or slacks, nylons, and black pumps. This should get you through your interviews and the first day on the job.

In the interview, making the best possible first impression is key. Display a confident attitude while not seeming overly boastful. Give a firm handshake, maintain eye contact, and make sure you are speaking loud enough to be easily heard while you discuss your prior experience. Many women tend to raise the pitch of their voice when they get nervous. As hard as it may be to avoid, fight this impulse. An unnaturally high-pitched voice may belie a lack of confidence. Lastly, there is absolutely no reason to feel or act apologetic about taking a break from your career to raise your family. If and when this question comes up in an interview, simply tell the truth and use it as an opportunity to describe the skills you learned while running a household.

As for what it will be like for you on the job, while much has changed — the internet, new versions of old programs, people many years younger than you working around the office — the basics have remained the same. If you work hard, ask good questions, and behave in a professional manner, you will be fine.