VolunteerTake the skills you've learned throughout your career and give them away. That's right. You'll now do the job you made good money doing before free.
For a stay-at-home mom, there are two primary benefits of volunteering. 1) Volunteering closes that ugly employment gap because you're still performing tasks related to your career and 2) You're more in control of the hours you want to put in because you're volunteering your time.
You might automatically think about nonprofit organizations as a place to volunteer. Companies, just like the one you used to work for before leaving to become a stay-at-home parent, may very well be interested in having a volunteer help out around the office too.
Example: Susie was an event planner for a major hotel chain before leaving her career to raise two children. To cover her employment gap, she now volunteers her event planning talents to coordinate adopt-a-thons for her local animal shelter.
Work Part-TimeIt's easy to pick up the newspaper or search online for part-time work to fill your employment gap. But there's another way to approach part-time work that gives you the flexibility to stay home with your kids while keeping your resume current.
Customize your part-time job search by approaching companies in your field. Ask if you can work a couple of hours a day or X number of hours per week.
Point out the benefits to them. No health insurance. No vacation time. There's no overhead for you to work for them.
Still can't convince them to give you a shot? Let them know you're willing to help out any time. Companies have busy times of year. They may get backlogged with new clients and projects. Employees are out during the holidays.
This is where you come in, ready to give the company an extra set of hands. Even though the work in this scenario may not be steady, it still covers your employment gap.
Example: Laura has been a stay-at-home mom for five years but wants to start working her way back into her career as a legal secretary. She works part-time for a law office but only a few days a month when the firm is preparing for a big case.
FreelanceDo your former job for a number of companies. With freelancing, you set your own hours, rates and you work for many clients.
Freelancing is most commonly associated with freelance writing and freelance web design but those aren't the only areas to get freelance work. From freelance legal jobs to freelance animation jobs, opportunities can be found in places you'd never expect to look.
Freelancing gives you the flexibility of working from home on your own terms. Take on as many or as few projects as you wish while still making your resume look appealing to potential employers in the future.
Example: Karen left her job as a copywriter at an advertising agency to stay home with her children. She started her own freelance copywriting business to keep her writing fresh so that she can one day return back to working in an ad agency position without an employment gap holding her back.
TelecommuteSet up a meeting with your former boss. Write a proposal showing how you can contribute to the company by telecommuting from home. Even if you only work a few hours a week, that's still a line on your resume that shows you've been working.
If your boss isn't interested, don't give up. There are plenty of other ways to land a telecommuting job. As a telecommuter, you'll look very appealing to future bosses because you've shown you can work independently without a boss hovering over you.
Example: Susan was a senior programmer at an electronics company until her daughter was born. Now she telecommutes, working from home a few hours a day and driving to the office for a full day of work every Monday.
ConsultTake your job experience and work as a consultant. Your knowledge can help identify a company's strengths and weaknesses and guide management toward goals you help set.
Initially, you'll need to do a lot of legwork to get companies to notice your consulting services. But you will instantly make your resume solid and eliminate any employment gap by proving yourself to be an expert in your field.
Example: Sheila was a broker at a top financial services firm before becoming a stay-at-home mom. Now she offers her expertise to small- and medium-sized financial services companies as a consultant. She analyzes the company and offers her advice to make the business stronger.
Start a New BusinessMaybe you're not quite sure you want to step back into your old career shoes when it's time to go back to work. But you don't want to give up everything you've learned throughout your career. Twist your background into a new business.
You probably have a secret interest you'd like to pursue. It may even branch off of your career skills. Follow those wishes and start a new business.
Example: Chelsea was a librarian at an elementary school until her son was born. She took her love of books and started an online bookstore for children. Her business takes advantage of her career background while allowing her to pursue a passion. At the same time, her business venture stamps out her employment gap.