How To Opt Out And Re-Enter The Workforce

Two professional moms launched Apres, a business dedicated to paving the way for moms who “opted out” and want to head back to work.

apres-groupThe impossible situation: You have 2 young kids, a stressful job that requires frequent travel, a daily commute to and from the ‘burbs (because you know, “quality of life”), and coworkers who roll their eyes when you leave at 5:30pm (which only means you see your kids for 10 minutes before bedtime). You’re not doing anything well, and you’re about to f*^king lose it.

So you opt out of work and stay home for a few years. (Because really, what other choice do you have, but that conversation’s for another day…)

Cut to 6 months/3 years/10 years later: Your kids are in school full time, followed by after school activities, and you are itching to go back to work. But how?! Where do you even begin?

Niccole Kroll and Jen Gefsky totally know how you feel. They were equally as lost when they wanted to re-enter the workforce. Which is what led them to the idea for Apres, a new company that guides women through the process of finding (and getting!) the right opportunity for them. With super-helpful content, career coaches, prep tools, and curated job listings, it can be as hands-on (read: hand holding) as you like.

We peppered them with the endless questions swirling around in our head, and they answered them like the #BossWomen they are. Read on for some of the best advice, whether you’re thinking of opting out or heading back to the workplace.

Educate, Educate, Educate

Our approach is two-fold:

  1. Educate our members about their value to a workplace. It sends the right message to current employees who aren’t yet parents, giving them mentors and a beacon of hope that they’ll be able to do the same thing when they have a family. Lead by example, ladies.
  2. Educate companies about why “returners” are so valuable to the business: Clients want to work with companies that employ women with kids – it puts the company’s priorities and culture in a positive light.

Preparing to Opt Out:

  1. If feeling financially independent is going to be a trigger for you, plan ahead by stashing away  some savings to alleviate that stress.  
  2. Talk to a few people who have done it, so you have an understanding of what’s to come.
  3. Think about strategic volunteer opportunities that will add value if and when you go back to work (90% of women do) – be on a board, help a local small business – something that keeps your skills sharp or builds upon them.

Making SAHM Friends

  • Don’t shy away from connecting with women who may not be at all like you. You have being moms in common, and that’s enough.
  • If your kid is in school or signed up for activities, the parents of your kid’s friends will become your friends. Sounds ridiculous, but it truly happens that way.
  • Go to exercise classes during the day (i.e. not before/after work times) – barre, spinning, yoga – that’s where your people are.

While You’re Home…

You may think you’ll never ever go back to work, but 90% of women re-enter after opting out. Just in case, do the following – it will make it so much easier should you decide to go back.

  1. Keep an ongoing doc that keeps track of projects you take part in (think class mom, helping a friend launch a business, volunteering) and the skills used.
  2. Stay connected and engaged on Linkedin – join groups like alumni networks and professional groups.
  3. Keep your social media buttoned up – any future employer is going to look at it, so consider it your own personal brand.
  4. Stay abreast of your industry’s news by reading articles and staying engaged in groups. It’ll keep you informed and prevent playing catch-up should you find yourself interviewing one day.
  5. Don’t lose touch with professional contacts. Meet for coffee or drinks occasionally. Besides hearing all the industry gossip, it makes it not awkward to ask them for help if you decide to go back.

Let’s Do This Re-Entry Thing!

  1. The friends you’ve made on the soccer sidelines are a great resource. They know you on a personal level and will likely be very willing to refer you or make introductions if you ask.
  2. Be honest and up-front about the gap on your resume – it’s not something to feel insecure about. Say confidently, ‘I made the decision to spend some time with my kids.’ They will respect that.
  3. Know the requirements of the job (hours, travel, in-office policy), and don’t accept one that isn’t feasible for you.
  4. If you’re needing to move hours (not reduce hours), be up front in the interview process. They’ll either be willing to do it or not, but don’t take it thinking you can mention a shift in hours upon starting.
  5. If you don’t want to go back to doing what you did before, that’s fine! Work with a coach who can help figure out how your skills transfer to other jobs and sectors. Companies are opening up to this and recognize that cultural fits are increasingly important – not just having the perfect background.

And breathe… you’ve got this.

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