How do SAHM's return to work after a long break?

(64 Posts)
loveroflife Wed 14-Nov-12 20:45:01

I'm a SAHM to DS (2) and am now pregnant with no.2. I gave up my job in advertising after work 'made it somewhat complicated' for me to return after mat leave. My job was no longer available, but another one was miles away in a different office and not compatible with pick up/drop off times from nursery and not profitable after childcare costs and lengthy commuting.

I agreed to take redundancy and in hindsight was really forced out, but loved being at home with ds so wasn't too bothered as felt I had done a good decade of the rat race and had given everything to my career.

DH is happy for me to be at home - we have a small flat, one car and cut back on most things to manage on one salary. It's tight but we're surviving.

However, as I am now pregnant again I don't plan on returning back to the work place for another couple of years and am concerned about a 4 year gap on my CV. Will I ever be able to get another job that was similar to my previous one having had so much 'time out'? How does one explain such a large gap on their CV? There are no jobs in my industry part time and childcare is so very expensive, I feel that is just isn't worth it, but am worried about the long term implications of SAH?

Has anyone else had a similar experiences? I feel a little selfish not contributing and wanting to stay at home, but then I would hate to miss out on my DC's early years. My friend said today that I shouldn't waste my time at university, the blood, sweat and tears working my way up the corporate ladder etc and it will be difficult to get my career back.

ILikeToNameChange Thu 15-Nov-12 08:00:09

I don't think it will be too hard for me to get back into my career (nursing)

I've been off for about 18 months now and plan to be off for roughly another 3 years. I'll have to take a refresher course at uni which is about four months, then I'll have my professional registration back. I wont be abke to demand the same salary as before but it wont be too dar off, about 3k less. And I'll be able to work my way up to my original salary just with time.

I'm hoping I might be in with a decent chance of re-employment. Senior nurses I know are always keen to take on the likes of me because I would cost the same as a newly qualufied nurse but have a fair but more experience ( that's the attitude I'm hoping for anyway grin )

And can I just add, as a SAHM, I contrubute massively to my household, what with me looking after the kids and shit...

ILikeToNameChange Thu 15-Nov-12 08:01:09

I'll have to learn to proof read obviously before I start applying for jobs grin

ihavenofuckingclue Thu 15-Nov-12 08:14:57

The gap in your cv is explained by 'mat leave', 'career break'.

there is no other explaintion to give. Its a perfectly valid choice.

I've taken 5 years out.
Have spent the last year applying for as many jobs as appear, not got anywhere at all.
I can't afford to take part time work, have lowered my outlook but nothing. I was in Retail Management prior to the children, worked solidly from a part time job at 14 until being a few months away from having dd when I was 25 (not for same company but went from one job to another with ease). Have taken courses etc. I've been applying for anything from Shop Assistant roles right up to what I was doing before, but I have had not one reply. My CV is all up to date (even had someone on here re-jig it for me). I haven't put the 5 year gap as just a gap. In that time I've been doing freelance consumer pieces for online magazines and ad features for my blog, but it makes not a difference it seems.

I feel like I'm on the scrapheap at 30. It does feel like we are discriminated against. One shop told me due to the long break in my career, they prefer not to take on unemployed applicants with longer than a year off work. They didn't elaborate further than that.

Sorry but I thought on going back it'd be easy peasy.

GrendelsMum Thu 15-Nov-12 08:33:07

Pretty much as Fellowship of Festive Fellows says.

I was a little disheartened to overhear some colleagues (all female, all with children, some with grandchildren) shortlisting for a job recently. One post, over 100 applicants. Essentially, if an applicant hadn't done the same job in the last 3 months, their CV was rejected. SAHM were seen as having lost their relevant skills during the break. If an applicant had done even a small amount of part time work, they would have treated the CV entirely differently.

OP - Could you not keep your hand in by working for 1 or 2 days a week with a small company that doesn't want a full time member of staff to do their marketing?

Emsmaman Thu 15-Nov-12 08:37:13

Career break/mat leave may be a valid career choice but in the current environment employers have so much choice of candidates! I don't want to be the voice of doom but I do think it's necessary to be realistic. I took 14 months off with DD (redundancy when pregnant) and took 2 months to find part time work (more junior and 25% less pay than before). To put it in perspective, at 5 months pregnant I only had one day without temp work after my redundancy until I chose to stop at 8 months, so it was easier to find work whilst pregnant! I had all the questions that you're not meant to have about how would I find working with a baby, what would I do when she was sick etc.

Why don't you sign up to job alerts from sites like workingmums and womenlikeus to see what is out there. Although keep in mind the jobs I was applying for online had 200-300 applicants each.

I would recommend keeping a hand in any way possible (homeworking/volunteering/freelancing) before the new baby comes (congratulations!) and then allowing plenty of time (6 months +) of job searching before you REALLY need a job.

NB. I am currently only covering childcare costs and commute and not even getting pension contribution

Emsmaman Thu 15-Nov-12 08:46:23

Fellowship where are you based? I wonder because locally retail seems to be booming, I live in a Surrey market town and apart from a couple of stores closing it's really hard to see signs of recession - plenty of shops with ads for staff and management - everyone from Build a Bear to White Stuff seem to be hiring. Good luck with your search.

wordfactory Thu 15-Nov-12 09:29:57

Here on MN you here a lot of posters stating catagorically that they will be returning to their career when it suits them.

Being a SAHM is often portrayed as a career break.

However, all the stats show that women trying to return to the workplace after a gap of more than their ML find it difficult.

This is not to say that women should not have periods where they are SAHM, but that they should be realistic about what it means in the longer term.

Ems I'm in Maidenhead. We've lost 90% of our stores in the last 3 years. There is literally nothing here at all.

redskyatnight Thu 15-Nov-12 09:43:27

The current job market is very harsh. I was made redundant 4 months ago, and even with no gap on my CV and experience that is very current I have resigned myself to the fact that I am very unlikely to get back into a job at the level I left and am looking at more junior positions in the same field. There's just too many good, experienced people out there (most of whom are also applying for jobs they are overqualified for). If I'm not making the cut, you can bet that someone who has been a SAHM for a few years is even further away.

However, when the job market picks up, this may well not be so much of an issue.

I have worried about the same thing since before DS2 (now 31 months) was even born. I love being a SAHM and always knew it was a 'career' I would want to have at some point in my life for a few years. I would rather work part-time to keep my hand in (I am a teacher) but it hasn't worked out and supply work has proved incompatible with having a little one and no obliging Granny to drop him with at a moment's notice. I have spent the best part of three years fretting about throwing my career away. But recently I have decided to reframe this as a (Baby) Gap Year or three. People do take breaks from their career to pursue other goals, which then either lead to other careers or enrich them when they return to their original career. They know they might be throwing away their chance to return at the same level to their old career but consider the new experiences, the pleasure of exploring something new, the satisfaction of doing something they value, etc to be a fair swap. I don't think what SAHMs do is so very different from that.
I have honestly no idea if I will ever get back into my old job - there are an awful lot of unemployed teachers here chasing the same work - but I do know I like my current day-job and would bitterly regret not having pursued it. If you feel the same way about being a SAHM and would, if faced with the stark choice, still choose it, then go for it! Who knows where it might lead in the end?

BTW - yesyesyes to voluntary work, finding things you can do from home that are in the same area as your old work, further training and finding a refresher course of some sort. My career is on hold but I do have a five-year plan to get back into it, and some ideas of new avenues to explore if that doesn't work out. It makes me less anxious about it to have a plan of sorts in place.

Misty9 Thu 15-Nov-12 10:42:49

The replies on this thread are just adding to my confusion about what to do in my case. I qualified as a clinical psychologist just before ds was born (14 months ago) and therefore haven't worked in a qualified role yet. If I take more than 2yrs before registering then I need to do catch up training (not sure how) but mostly I just don't know how a long gap would be viewed by prospective employers?

Jobs in the nhs are pretty hard to come by anyway and I have got half an eye on the job alerts but nothing suitable has come up yet. I think if I was fairly certain I'd still be able to get back into my career then I'd take more time off wi ds - and potentially baby 2. It's such a hard decision...

newmummytobe79 Thu 15-Nov-12 13:18:25

I hope it's not too long ... as I will be in the same position as you in a similar career. I think (as someone else said) if you keep your profile on Linkedin/Twitter etc active - that will stand you (and me!) in good stead.

Also ... and I know it's a bit dodgy ... but in the world of advertising, maybe you could add in a few not-so-true freelance jobs that can't really be checked up on.

I have noticed a lot more media related jobs coming on the market recently and the increase of contact from ever-so-quiet recruitment companies has increased in the past month or so - which is good smile

Startail Thu 15-Nov-12 13:35:59

After 14 years with no career to return to you don't you remain a SAHM until you die penny less in a freezing house. Ok this might not happen if DH lives a decent length of time as he does have a reasonable pension, but as a widow it falls sharply.

Thank you Labour for taking away my pension credits next year, BASTARDS!

Basicly I'm being punished for choosing to bring up my own DCs rather than working for nothing for 10 years.

No close by family (dead and disabled grandparents), so I we would have had to pay 100% childcare. DD is 14, there was bugger all help back then. Tax credits etc came in later by which time DH earned too much.

Living in a rural area everything means commuting so there is no way out of before/after school CM (no school clubs). That's £22 a day, plus petrol to get to work, it simply isn't worth it even if a CM has places.

And that s before you try to work out what the fuck to do with summer holidays with no family and no kinds clubs that do long enough hours to let you do a decent days work.

Yes i am fantastically luck to have a very cleaver and consequently reasonably paid DH, but by hell I'm punished for it too.

Startail Thu 15-Nov-12 13:52:03

I should add the local nursery is trying to run wrap round care for school aged Dcs at an affordable price, but its an up hill struggle because so many people have for so long used family, friends and school hour jobs given out on a who you know basis (I'm not local, I'm don't "know" anyone useful).

Without the government subsidising "long school days" and 9-6 holiday clubs, private providers are going to struggle in areas where travelling expenses mean low paid and/or limited hour jobs rapidly become uneconomic. Women use friends and family, become SAHMs or do local shop, school and admin jobs that they are way way overqualified for so as to do the school run.

The waste of education and talent given many of us are graduates is enormous. But with DHs working 1hr and more commutes away in Britain's long hours culture, that is how it is if you want children.

WilsonFrickett Thu 15-Nov-12 14:01:02

I am going to generalise massively here but your industry is one of the suckiest for returning mothers. It's a long hours culture, very youth-orientated, there's a whole generation of internees coming up who will work for nothing, and it is very fast-moving.

You say advertising - were you a creative? Planner? Account Manager? Basically, if you were anything apart from sales or business development (very transferable to another industry) you are going to have to think laterally.

Can you go client-side - usually more opportunities for flexible working etc in large corporates (I know, I know, there's a recession on!) but generally. And what you can offer them is agency experience, which is still prized.

Retrain into marketing? Brush up on your social media? Can you write - freelance copywriting is lucrative if you have good contacts. Contacts generally are key as pp said.

I think if you try to step back to where you were 5 years ago you won't succeed - so better to take that as a platform to move forward, iyswim.

mummmsy Thu 15-Nov-12 14:02:51

really don't cover up that you have children? the reason i'm asking, is that i'm jobsearching after finishing my degree, then phd and i also have a 7 year old. i have no gaps in my cv (worked as well as studied), but would never, ever mention having a child - in face would deliberately avoid it! on one occasion, it was a few months before my new work colleagues knew I had a 2 year old...

fair play to you lot for just putting it out there!

DixieD Thu 15-Nov-12 14:10:50

Obviously it depends on industry and experience. But contacts are important. Keeping your ear to the gound on industry developments. Knowing what businesses are doing what and where might be interested in employing you when the time comes.
I am an accountant but specialise in a very specific area which is a huge business in Dublin. Dublin a small city, in my industry everyone knows everyone. I was a SAHM for 6 years but I kept in touch with people I trained with and worked with. I kept up to date with the industry and when it came near the time that I was getting ready to go back I started letting it be known I was interested. A job cropped up, I was recommended. I was lucky of course, the job was ideal and at exactly the right time but if I kept my profile up and so I was remembered. Also it was helpful in getting references as I hadnt slipped off the face of the earth and my professional referees remembered me.
So contacts, keeping up to date, some ad hoc work if you can manage it.

DixieD Thu 15-Nov-12 14:11:43

And absoloutly be open about the fact you took a break to have kids. I did and it was never an issue.

naturalbaby Thu 15-Nov-12 14:15:46

What do you want to do long term? If you want to return to the same type of job in the same industry then it sounds like you might struggle a bit.

I was looking for a change in career anyway so have used my time as a SAHM to work out what I really want. I'm registering as a childminder to stay at home with ds3 and earn a salary, and offer childcare for people like yourself who need childcare that is cheaper than nursery and more flexible.

ewaczarlie Thu 15-Nov-12 14:22:54

I worked in advertising too. Now I'm a sahm and work in our own company (nothing to do with adv). I too am worried how ill transition back after a long break from the industry. My headhunter suggested that when I'm ready the best thing to do is work freelance (agencies are always looking for help on pitches) - and this is probably what I'll do. I've also considered offering my services to charities etc so ill at least keep my skills up to date.
You can go back but it's often hard to reenter at the same level. Don't worry advertising industry will always need experienced people even if they have had career beaks of any kind

quesadilla Thu 15-Nov-12 14:27:15

I think it does depend hugely on what sector you work in. Some industries seem to actively welcome people who've had career breaks, others not so much. I'm personally working full time and have been since my dd was 8 months although I'd much rather be a SAHM, in part because I don't want to wake up one morning in my mid-40s and realize that I'm no longer employable but I work in a particularly competitive and not very touchy-feely industry. I don't think that's the norm. Advertising doesn't strike me as one of the more touchy-feely ones: do you want to go back into advertising?
I do think if you're prepared to ease back in slowly, possibly with some voluntary work or unpaid in the mix (and I know that's depressing) you'll be able to do it. You've clearly got a decent CV. But I think some readjustment of expectations is probably necessary...

ewaczarlie Thu 15-Nov-12 14:33:19

one thing i forgot to add, having recruited people before myself its always great to interview the right person who already has had kids (as the chance of them leaving on materinity is greatly reduced)

I've had 8 years out and despite having qualifications coming out of my ears, and a CV filled with top companies and great experience I can't even get interviews. It is depressing.

If you really want to get back in be prepared to work for nothing somewhere just to get your CV live again, and possibly sit some exams to prove you are up to date.

MarshaBrady Thu 15-Nov-12 14:37:14

It does depend on the sector.

A good thing to do if you want to go back is try and do some freelance over the years. Just a bit, but it makes the CV less blank.

Advertising is a hard one, so many young, eager people willing to work. And long hours.

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