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Returning to the workforce after 10 years

The Hiring Process The Local Job Market Ask the Employer

I am planning to return to the workforce after an extended absence of nearly 10 years as a stay-at-home caregiver. I have a degree but no recent work experience. What advice would you offer to someone in these circumstances?

From Amanda Haddaway, Owner, HR Answerbox:

There are lots of reasons why people leave the workforce, but be prepared to explain any gaps in employment. Employers will want to know what you've been doing between jobs, so it may even make sense to include this as a part of your work experience on your resume. Anyone who has been a stay-at-home caregiver knows that this is indeed hard work! You may consider highlighting some of your project management, organization and time management skills that were crucial as a part of managing the home. Embrace these experiences, don't shy away from them! I've interviewed several people in this same situation and I often find that they downplay their time at home. Own it and show how these skills could also benefit a well-run business.

From Michelle Day, Director, Frederick County Workforce Services:

The commitment to choose to be a caregiver demonstrates character and loyalty, two skills that are very important to employers. Knowing that you now want to enter the traditional workforce can be daunting, however, over those 10 years you probably gained a significant level of experience and skills, despite not being paid for them. Caregiving requires schedule flexibility, communication skills, problem-solving, and others. A couple of ideas to get started may include assessing your own skills and taking a class, or exploring a training program that would link your years of experience to a credential (not necessarily another degree). If, as a caregiver, you regularly reviewed medical bills and insurance payments, you may consider looking into a medical billing training program as a new career launching point. Many employers are well aware of today’s demands on workers and respect the fact that workers are struggling to handle the demands work-life balance. In a way, starting over after 10 years may be an advantage in the sense that you can promote yourself as 100% ready and available to commit to an employer, just as you did with your caregiving time.

From Lisa Morrissey, HR Manager, Common Market:

My advice in this situation would be to explain all of the things you have done to keep current with technology, the industry, the community (volunteering at sports, at schools, on committees, etc.) and current events over the 10-year span so that when you are ready to enter into the workforce, you will be viewed as an asset to the employer and not as someone who will require a lot of time to "catch up".

From Rob Collings, Branch Manager, Manpower, Inc.

This scenario is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s workforce. In my position as Branch Manager at Manpower, I speak to several jobseekers a week that are in this exact position and seeking similar guidance.

My two main bits of advice are 1. Be realistic in your job search. 2. Have patience with yourself.

It doesn’t matter if you have been out of the workforce for 1 year, 5 years, or 10 years; the one thing you can count on is, things have changed! The biggest change is going to be technology. Depending on how far along you are in your new career search, I’m sure you have noticed companies are using completely new ways to advertise job openings, screen potential applicants, and interview qualified candidates. They are also requiring candidates to be at least proficient in the most current version of the programs they use. FCWS is a great place to become more familiar with the new technologies companies are requiring their employees to have!

You have been out of the job market for a while and it is going to take time for get adjusted to the new playing field. Be patient, get your skills up to date and be prepared to hear a few no’s or nothing at all for a little while. Keep your head up and get your foot in the door by taking a position you may feel you are over qualified for. Don’t give up!