July 24, 2024
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July 24, 2024
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Women Reentering the Job Market

While the pandemic roughed up the careers of millions of Americans, women were particularly hard hit.

Appropriately, I’m responding to requests for advice to women reentering the workforce, whether your absence was COVID-related or otherwise. Space being limited here, let’s avoid the reasons for this disproportionate effect on women. We know what they are. Nor need we dwell on data. We know that, too. Rather, let’s look at what to do.

As an independent career coach for 25 years who has advised thousands of clients, this is not new to me. Although we’re experiencing a pandemic for the first time, issues of workforce reentry have been around since the flood—and they affect everyone, not just women. Surely, there are issues that affect women more than men—or even exclusively—so we’ll discuss those first. Then we’ll get to the rest because—man or woman—they will come into play.

  • Look for companies committed to supporting women’s reemployment. They’re generally larger companies with resources to conduct special recruiting and hiring initiatives, offer special training, create unique onboarding expectations, and assign mentors and coaches.
  • Apologize for nothing. You were out for a reason—to take care of your children, household and perhaps aging parents. Nothing is more important or demanding. You were out because you did what you had to do—and you were the best candidate for that job, too. You have nothing to apologize for, so don’t.
  • Be confident as a competitor. If you have “mommy skills”—scheduling, budgeting, finance, operations, logistics, contracting, supply chain, conflict resolution, contingency planning, emergency management, special events, morale and creative thinking—you’re qualified for a lot of jobs. Right? How’s that for transferable skills?
  • Don’t fall into interview traps. “What was your last salary?” and “What are your salary expectations?” are illegal questions in at least 30 states. Women are still paid at least 18% less than men for the same job, so if you answer that, you’re perpetuating your own subservience. Careful, though: Employers look for other ways of doing it. If confronted, state that you’re confident that you’re competitive for this job and that you’d like to know what their salary range is.
  • Family has nothing to do with this. “What are your family obligations?”—also illegal—deserves a cold, terse “None that will affect my performance,” followed by a confident smile and … silence. However, if it’s a part-time job or job-sharing, it could be an important part of the conversation. But you should know that going in.

Now let’s talk about everyone reentering the workplace, gender notwithstanding.

  • Keep yourself and the interviewer focused. If questions keep harping on your employment gap or its reasons—a ridiculous waste of time—you’re the one who must redirect, like, for example: “Yes, I was out for two years, like millions of others, but I kept my skills current [through community volunteering, freelancing, etc.], took professional development courses, and kept up with the industry. I’m here to discuss what I can bring to the table at your company.”
  • Be a Career “A.P.E.” That’s “Assess-Plan-Execute.” Assess what the market demands and what you offer. The difference is your skills gap. Create a plan to erase that gap. Then execute your plan. Admittedly, this is easier said than done, but it really is that simple.
  • Understand your leverage. Record-smashing job creation, historically high open jobs (a serious labor shortage, in other words), and rapidly rising wages. That’s what the job market looks like and why you don’t have to settle either for title or income. This is the strongest employees’ market in memory.
  • Find a job, business or industry you like. Your favorable position means that if you have good transferable skills, you can be selective, not having to take just anything that comes by.
  • Get out of your comfort zone. Don’t necessarily stick with what you know; strive for what you know you can do. “We will either step forward into growth or backwards into safety,” declared Abraham Maslow. Time to step forward.
  • How good are your career skills? Knowing how to do the job is one thing. That’s job skills. Knowing how to get the job is another matter. Those are your career skills: résumé, letters and profiles; interviewing strategies, job search strategies and networking.
  • Network. And never stop. The cardinal rule of networking is “A.B.C.”—Always Be Connecting. It’s not something to do just when you need a job. It’s a way of life. And while you’re at it…
  • Tell absolutely everyone you know that you’re looking. You never know who will open doors, make introductions or give advice.

Remember, this is a great job market. So, the last bit of advice is … Act now!


Career Coach Eli Amdur provides top-notch one-on-one coaching in job search, résumés, interviewing, career planning and executive development. Reach him at [email protected] or 201-357-5844

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