In today's economy, more women are being forced to relinquish their roles as stay-at-home moms to become working moms. But figuring out how to step off the mommy track and back into the business world can be intimidating for many women, who can often be their own worst enemy, says career expert Vicki Brackett of Make It Happen for Women, which specializes in helping women find jobs.
"The biggest problem is in her head, what she thinks about herself," Brackett says. "They're afraid because professional women are intimidating."
Nevertheless, the only way to get back out there is to do your research and force yourself outside your comfort zone, she says. Start by visiting Web sites such as careerbuilder.com or monster.com to see what jobs are available and what skills are needed.
Then figure out how your skills fit. "Look what you've been doing since you've been out of the workforce-Boy Scouts, PTA, all have project management skills and different kinds of skills that companies would find attractive," Brackett says.
Next, find local professional organizations. Check out the local chamber of commerce for get-togethers. Google the name of your city and women's professional organizations to find others. "Stay away from the mom ones because then you'll be back to talking about potty training," Brackett says. "Then go get your hair done, go get the suit, shave your legs, get out of the mommy track."
Once you're at the meetings, don't talk about your kids. Instead, create your own "10-second commercial" highlighting what you do, Brackett advises. "You want to say, 'I'm a professional redefining myself and getting back into the workplace.'" Talk about your projects. For instance, working on Girl Scout cookie sales can be described as nonprofit fundraising.
Don't talk about wanting to telecommute or needing to be home at 3 p.m. to pick up the kids. "No one wants to hear about your kids. They want to hear you can make them money, save them money and minimize their risk," she says.
And last, be realistic about the marketplace. "We're now in a recession, so what (you) did 10 years ago isn't going to matter," Brackett says. You can jumpstart job searches by updating skills through a college class, volunteering or asking local companies about internships.
For more information, visit makeithappenforwomen.com.
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.