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.

naturalbaby Thu 15-Nov-12 21:48:00

Volunteering and networking has got me further than traditional job hunting.

loveroflife Thu 15-Nov-12 19:58:20

Thanks so much for all the helpful suggestions. I think for now I am going to start volunteering - I could maybe do the marketing/publicity for some of the toddler groups that don't do so well where I live and are always a bit empty.

Almost, rebrand them and do a little campaign to relaunch them again - I'm sure they would be delighted. Then if that goes well I could approch some charities and do the same for them - this can all add to my portfolio as a freelancer of course.....

Good luck to everyone else and the forthcoming decisions that will be made...

somewherewest Thu 15-Nov-12 18:56:57

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.

You won't be wasting the time you spent at university (says the woman with a PhD who is more or less SAHMing for a few years). First off, this is only a few years out of your life. Secondly, even if it wasn't, education is just inherently a wonderful thing. Not everything has to be about pounds, shillings and pence.

amicissimma Thu 15-Nov-12 17:01:01

In a few years time we may well be coming out of recession and there may be more work available.

There are lots things you can do while you are SAHMing - run a local playgroup, get involved in fundraising for the PTA of nursery/school, help out at school, etc. You could do more studying, research different careers.

Will you want to go back to your old job? Maybe with two children your priorities will have changed and you may prefer to look for a different type of work.

How sad that you should think your time at university is wasted if it isn't being used for paid work. Doesn't every part of your life reflect your level of education. Is it a 'waste' for a graduate to bring up children? The statistics don't suggest so.

I am sorry you think that bringing up children, being part of the local community, etc is 'not contributing'.

The question for me is do you want that old career back? Would be compatible with having children or do you really want to work part time and get a better work/life balance? You don't sound convinced OP and it sounds more like you think you ought to because that is what you do and you have worked on creating a career. It doesn't mean that you have to do it again if it isn't what you want out of life any more.

I didn't want my old career back so it was never an issue for me but I have spent the last 12 years studying, doing voluntary work and starting a very small business which has been a steep learning curve. Basically have something to show for your time other than looking after your children, even if it is running the local toddler group one day a week - it still requires organisational skills, people skills etc so no harm in putting it on your CV.

As most have said, you don't have to explain any gap on your CV - there isn't one. Life does extend outside of work and you were doing something very worthwhile. I would also disagree with your friend and her comment about wasting your education - your children are benefitting from it and even if it doesn't pay you, it is still worthwhile. There is more to life than the corporate ladder!

The other possibility that has worked for me and several friends is to work for/with our husbands. I have just gone back to doing the work I did 12 years ago because DH knows I haven't had a lobotomy and am perfectly capable of doing the work even if I haven't done it for ages. Other friends are helping with the admin side of their DH's business. If I wanted to go back to my old line of work I have no doubt that it would be worthwhile stepping stone. He has a professional practice with other staff so there is some kudos working for him. He isn't a handyman or similar who just wants me to do his VAT return once a quarter - it is a real job.

Gravenwithdiamonds Thu 15-Nov-12 16:22:00

I did bits of freelance working from home and lots of voluntary (in my field as well as the PTA stuff) when my 3 DCs were very and I now work PT. I have a good work/life balance but earn less than I did when I was 25 (13 years ago) and am at a lot lower level. I do see a lot of the children though.

MerylStrop Thu 15-Nov-12 16:04:51

If I were you I would do something that demonstrates a commitment to personal/professional development, whilst you SAHM. Whether that is freelance work, volunteering, training or whatever. And keep in touch with your professional friends.

In my job you are only as good as your last project. Freelancing in between having my 3 has just about kept my professional rep alive (just as well as DH was made redundant last year, we now both work part time, which is ace)

cottonpuff Thu 15-Nov-12 15:56:09

I'd say that training, voluntary work and networking were the key things for me in returning to work after a long break as a sahm. I was at home for 15 years, until the youngest started secondary, but I was still young when I went back, as I'd started my family young. I had plenty of job offers before that, mostly through contacts and friends, but financially we didn't need me to return to work and I enjoyed my time doing p/t study and getting experience as a volunteer.

I never hid the fact that I'd taken a career break, but many of the contacts I'd made were other mums or friends I'd met through socialising, so they knew my circumstances anyway. It's a much more relaxed way of seeking work too - no silly person specs or CVs, I've just been contacted because my friends know I'm bright and capable and they needed someone to fill a role.

I went back to work on a slightly higher salary (but not really much higher as it was 15 years later!) but quickly got promoted within 5 years and now I'm at the same or higher salary than many of my contemporaries who continued to wohm for fear of falling off the career ladder. As they didn't start their families until later they were restricted with childcare issues while I was free to focus on work since my own dc were teens by that time.

Lancelottie Thu 15-Nov-12 15:03:45

[For context: future prospects are Not Shiny in my freelance role, but not at all guaranteed in this one either!]

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Thu 15-Nov-12 15:00:38

Spring* This sort of thing should be covered in a leaflet handed out when you first see a midwife/GP to notify your pregnancy

This sort of thing should be handed out at school, before you even consider starting a family!

Lancelottie Thu 15-Nov-12 15:00:03

Goodness this is timely.
I've been freelancing for ever some years now and had an interview last week for a local full-time job. But they were cagey about the salary, and now they've let me know what it is I can see why. It's roughly what I earn freelance by working school-time and some evenings, and it's definitely a lower skill level than what I do now, let alone what I used to do pre-kids.

So: do I take the job anyway (if they offer it)
-- at a loss of net income as we'll need more childcare
-- to do something I may not shine at (because it doesn't need my skill set)
-- without my current flexibility
-- at the loss of my freelance contacts

in order to get out of the house and gamble on future prospects being brighter that way? Or would a future employer then look at my CV, spot this as the last job and pigeonhole me as that?

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Thu 15-Nov-12 14:58:08

ewaczarlie that is a very good point. Much as it stems from prejudices against women of childbearing age, at least a parent is only likely to require a bit of flex here and there rather than be trained up and disappear for 12 months. For goodness sake don't ever mention that at interview though (as an interviewer or interviewee!)

startail what credits do you mean? Do you mean the ones that come with recieving CB?

Emsmaman Thu 15-Nov-12 14:49:27

Fellowship that cannot be helping then! Weird how localised it is, just cut through town to the library and saw 6 ads in store windows without really looking for them...

SpringierSpaniel Thu 15-Nov-12 14:41:49

There's no need to hide the Career break, just be honest about it.

The gettign back into a decent level work role however........

This sort of thing should be covered in a leaflet handed out when you first see a midwife/GP to notify your pregnancy.

It should cover the potential financial cost of maternity leave career breaks including pension effect etc. This would then focus the mind on the facts rather than letting mums-to-be just think about the pregnancy/birth/Mat leave period for the next however many months leading up to the commencement of Mat Leave.

Some pessimistic cynics work it out for themselves. IMHO there is no point in bemoaning the lack of term time/school hours/part time career jobs when the SAHP has decided that it's time to go back to work now. If the newly pregnant looked ahead/researched the situation they'd cling to their existing jobs and go back in the hope of trying to convert to a part-time more flexible position doing the same level of role as before.

It's not easy juggling work and very small children, you can sense some people's disapproval (yes mum, I do mean you) but the job satisfaction and financial security/benefits in the long run were worth it for me.

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.

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.

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)

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 14:22:54

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

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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