I can't count the number of women I know who were stay-at-home moms when they were married, and for financial reasons had to go back to work after divorce. That includes me, and I can say firsthand how unbelievably difficult the transition was.
So, how do you land a job you love that also fits your single mom lifestyle? It's not easy, but it is certainly doable! Here are eight job searching tips I wish I could have told myself as a mom going back to work after divorce.
1. Get help writing your resume. How many years has it been since you put together a resume? For me it had been over a decade. Get some help with it. Ask people who work if you can see their resumes to get an idea of how to write yours. Have friends and professionals edit it for you and give you feedback.
2. Consider working with a job coach to help you decide what jobs to go after. Probably the hardest thing about going back to work after divorce is figuring out what jobs to go after. Lots of things have changed since you left your last job, and most of the job descriptions are confusing. What do you want to do? What are you qualified to do? What hours can you work? How much do these jobs pay? Job coaches work with you to determine the right career fit and explain and put those wordy and complicated job descriptions into plain English!
3. Practice interviewing. It may seem silly, but you haven't had a job interview in awhile. Practice in the mirror, practice with your kids, practice with your sister or your friends. Keep practicing so that when you are actually interviewing, your words come out easily and smoothly.
4. Network like crazy. The best way to get a job is to contact everyone you know, and I mean everyone. Past coworkers are the best. People love hearing from old friends. You will be so surprised at how receptive people will be to you. Remember that it isn't easy for employers to find good candidates, so they appreciate referrals from people they know. If a friend recommends you, you have such a better chance!
5. Face fear of technology head on. When I got my Mac four years ago, I was so scared. It was a purchase that took me 2 years to find the courage to even make. I was afraid I wouldn't know how to use it. But what I found was that I caught on quickly and within a week, was fully trained. Computer technology can be intimidating, so you just have to tell yourself you aren't afraid, that you are intelligent, and that you have faith in yourself that you will figure it out. And, if you have kids, they are the best training manuals out there!
6. Get a physical makeover. Feeling confident while interviewing requires feeling good about yourself on the outside. That means regular gym visits, eating healthy, and perhaps a new haircut, new interviewing outfits, and regular manicures. Oh, and ladies, always wear lipstick to your interviews. Lipstick will make you feel prettier, which will give you that extra boost of self-confidence.
7. Talk to other working single moms. There is no better source than another single working mom to talk to you about balancing work and kids. She will ease your anxiety and make you realize how not only workable it is, but how happy you are going to be!
8. Believe in yourself. The most important tip I can give is to have faith in yourself and your abilities. When you worked before you had kids, I bet you were a superstar. If you were that before, there is no reason to believe you won't be that again. I'm stealing this quote from my son's basketball coach: "The only thing holding you back is you." In other words, you have the talent and the skill. But to activate it, you need to believe it. Kind of reminds me of Dorothy and her ruby slippers!
Going back to work after divorce is life changing. It is scary as hell for many reasons, but I truly believe nothing bad and everything good comes from it. The countless benefits include everything from more financial security to new friendships to more opportunities to a new sense of self-esteem and confidence. In other words, you will love yourself, which is so important as a single mom.
This is your time to be strong and determined, to grasp all of your inner strength, and to go out and get the job you love, that you deserve, and that you will make you a huge success, both financially and emotionally. And when you land it, I guarantee, like me, you will have tears in your eyes from gratitude, self-pride, an immense amount of relief, and of course, excitement! Good luck!
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, Love Essentially" for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.