RETURNING TO WORK AFTER DIVORCE
Returning to work after divorce: When Stay at Home Moms Decide to Return to the Workforce
Why Do Women Leave THE WORKFORCE in the first place? Why do they stop working only to later END UP returning to work after divorce?
If returning to work after divorce is so hard, why do women leave in the first place? Typically, when a lot of women get married, babies soon follow and it often makes sense if one of the parents stayed home with the kids rather than pay a child care provider (because child care is so expensive!) and usually the person who stays home is the mother. And she gets used to it and may even come to enjoy not having to work outside the home, not having to hit those pavements to go to a 9:00 to 5:00 job and basically having the time and resources to focus on raising her children.
After a marriage ends (if the children grow up or both), this same woman’s priorities often shifts and working outside the home can become not just something she craves, but a necessity.
Returning to work after divorce outside the home
For a lot of women, a divorce is more than just the end of their marriage. It is also the beginning of, often times, years long oddessey to find a new job. Returning to the work after divorce is easier for some women than it is for others. Indeed, finding a job after a marriage ends could be the first time that some women have ever had to work in their adult lives! The reason they decide to return is usually to help ends meet when child support and spousal support or alimony fail to add up to enough income that would allow them to continue to live at the standard of living they had become accustomed to while married.
Often, though, returning to workforce after divorce is a choice, not a necessity. It is a choice made by a former careerist who is returning to a workforce she left when she got married, because, frankly, she is bored with staying at home and her children have probably all grown and she would like to feel the thrill she once felt when she was making her own money. Of course, there are numerous hurdles.
External Hurdles Women Face
- Harassment & Discrimination
- Child Care Costs
- Inadequate support from their former spouse or extended family
Psychological hurdles women face
After a lengthy absence from the workplace, a woman can feel very intimidated at the mere thought of returning to the work after divorce. The longer she has been out of the workforce the more daunting this whole experience will seem to her. She has genuine worries that are perfectly reasonable: Can she handle the contemporary office politics she will need to deal with? Can she compete with younger workers who never took time out to raise kids? Does she have the right set of skills to keep up in the modern workplace? Is everything the same since she has been gone or does she have to relearn everything she thought she knew?
The bottom line is that due to her child rearing years, she has gaps in her resume and depending on her personal situation those gaps could be humongous. Is she now back to entry level salary and assignments? Where exactly will she fit in the corporate hierarchy?
It is a huge mental struggle. Let us not kid ourselves. For some women, the hurdles will be insurmountable and she will never find work because for some people she will be over-qualified and for others she will be under-qualified. It is a mind game and not all women can handle it. It’s just reality. There are many factors that play into this, many variables that could tip the scale in one direction or another including the woman herself and her level determination; the industry she is trying to break into; the companies she interviews with; her age and health; her appearance, and other factors.
But There is help Out There
The thing for the mom who is returning to work to understand is that these days, many companies are aware of and are sympathetic to this specific situation. There are many companies that specialize in helping moms who have been out of the workforce bridge the gap from stay at home child rearing mother to career woman. One such organization is New York based Path Forward.
Just last year, a number of major companies announced they were offering “returnships” to moms who had taken time out of the workforce to care for their families and are now returning to the workforce. Those companies includ Godaddy, Instacart, Zendesk, Demandbase, Cloudflare and Cousera, according to Forbes Magazine:
On Tuesday, domain registrar GoDaddy (gddy, +2.10%), online education platform Coursera, grocery delivery startup Instacart, as well as customer service software company Zendesk, marketing technology company Demandbase, and CloudFlare, a content-distribution network, all announced that starting in October, they will offer “returnships” for mid-career professionals who want to get back to the workplace after taking time off to care for a child, parent, or other loved one.
The companies will offer these workers 18-week paid internships through an organization called Path Forward, which launched as a standalone non-profit earlier this year after starting as an internal program of data provider Return Path.
Below are a few tips for you if you are a woman who is returning to the workforce after a lengthy absence:
Some general tips: Resumes, networking, interviewing
- Talk about volunteer work
- Talk about freelance work
- Go to job/industry conferences (network)
- Attend career fairs
- Start Blogs & Websites (make yourself into an expert)
- Try entrepreneurial forays & projects
- Leverage homemaking/leadership experience
- Highlight personal traits
- Highlight transferable skills
- Use good verbs (more sophisticated without being pretentious)
- Consider the rganization of the resumé
- Be succinct
- Use bullet points
- Include interesting past times
- Don’t lie (but puffery is ok)
- Sell, Sell, Sell
Flexibility is critical
- Job sharing may be the best option in some cases
- Part time work to start could be right for you
- Be open-minded and keep your options open when you are trying to return to the work after divorce. Understand that it is highly unlikely that you can re-enter the workforce at the same level or even in the same job you left. There are those women who do but typically, once a woman returns from maternity leave, she has to understand that things are going to be a little bit changed from the situation she left. For one thing, the people who used to be her colleagues or boss may no longer be there and entirely new (often younger) people would have filled their place. This is going to have a huge impact on whether the woman fits back into the this environment or not.
- Take something beneath you if necessary
- Expect that promises can be broken and have a plan B.
Work on Yourself
You should always be thinking about improving your:
- Physical Appearance
- Self Promotion
- Comfort with Technology
- Raw skills specific to the industry you work in