Choosing to put your career on hold to raise your children is a tough choice. Mothers often sacrifice their careers for the sake of having a family, only to find the career world changed in the time they spent ensuring their children had what they needed for a strong start in life.

While being a mom actually may make you a better employee because parenthood strengthens pretty much every skill you can think of,you still need to prepare before you reenter the workforce. Here are a few actions you can take before its time to get back into work:

1. Brush Up Your Tech Skills

If you’ve been out of the workforce for any length of time, your tech skills are outdated. Technology changes every day, and business needs change with it. Luckily, you can learn almost any technology online for free or cheap.

You don’t know what you don’t know, so start by looking through job advertisements in your industry to see which software programs are advertised as job requirements. Don’t assume that just because you could use industry-specific software five years ago that it is exactly the same. It’s not. Google to find tutorials on the latest versions.

Next, connect with people in your industry on LinkedIN and ask questions about how their companies are using technology and what you should know before you reenter the workforce. Don’t be shy—you aren’t the first mom to go back to work, and if you look just a little, you’re sure to find a fellow mom in your industry that has done the same thing. Besides, you need to get back into the habit of networking anyway, and what better way than to start a conversation with someone in your industry about technology?

If your home computer is more than three years old, replace it. You’ll need to know how to use the latest operating systems no matter what your industry.

2. Start a Side Hustle to Fill Work Gaps on Your Resume

Right now, while you’re just starting to prepare to go back to work, is the perfect time to start a side hustle. A side hustle will give you something recent to put on your resume, and something to highlight in interviews. Besides, who couldn’t use a few extra dollars?

Being a mom makes you a shrewd negotiator and helps you achieve better customer service skills since you spend so much time thinking about the needs of others and mitigating toddler tantrums. You can start a side hustle easily by selling children’s toys and clothes on eBay, making crafts to sell on Etsy, or babysitting children for other moms. If you have a degree or a background in education, you should check out our 10 Summer Side Hustles for Teachers list.

3. Tidy Your Resume (and your LinkedIN)

Your resume is probably a bit dusty after not being used for several years. Modern resumes have more custom formatting than they did just a few years ago, so it’s a good idea to either find a career coach to help you highlight your best skills and target them to your dream job, or at least buy a few modern resume templates online.

Your LinkedIN profile is a powerful tool to help you find a job an prepare to return to work. Update your profile, make sure you’ve connected with as many people as you can, and when you’re ready to find a job, turn on the setting to let recruiters know you’re looking.

4. Gather References

You will need references when you go to apply for a new job. Since you’ve been out of the workplace awhile, you will need to remind your former supervisors and colleagues about how great an asset you were. You can do this by connecting with them on LinkedIN. Don’t be afraid to buy your former boss lunch—it may lead to a job offer or at least a reference.

Also think about connections you’ve made as a mom. If you followed our advice and started a side hustle, you have clients you can use as references, too. If you’ve been doing charity work or volunteering at your kid’s school, you may be able to use your supervisors and connections as references.

5. Practice Your Career Story

Your resume and cover letter will tell the abridged story of your career (if you write them properly), but what will you say in an interview when you’re asked, “Walk me through your resume?” or “Tell me about yourself?” You need a solid career story.

You should not be ashamed of taking time off work to raise a family. Instead, tell the recruiter that you had a “once in a lifetime opportunity to be a mother” and you seized that opportunity and now it’s made you a better employee. It’s your story; tell it in the most positive light possible.

Do any moms out there have any other advice to offer?

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5 Ways Moms can Prepare to Return to Work after Raising the Kids - #momsatwork #career #careeradvice

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