Going Back to Work

The kids are back to school and suddenly you have free time on your hands. Or, it is just getting harder to make ends meet. Or, you want to do something more with your life than fold laundry. Whatever the reason, parents re-entering the workforce have unique challenges.


Foremost is the economy. Unemployment rates remain high, reaching double digits in California.


“As the economy falters, more and more employers look at family demands to be a liability. Why hire person X, who may miss work to care for a sick kid or go to an award ceremony, when they can hire person Y, who has a cat that is not particularly demanding,’’ says Mitch Kocen, assistant marketing manager at BAJobs.com.


BAJobs, an online job board that focuses on employment in the Bay Area, was founded in 1997 and is based in Campbell. It’s free to job seekers, and employers can also use it to hunt for candidates.


Here’s Kocen’s job-seeking advice:


Are you seeing more stay-at-home parents looking for work?


On the whole, we’re not seeing much evidence of an increase in families that were originally set up to allow a single income to support the entire family become a two-income family. However, we are seeing a single-income family become a zero-income family, as layoffs become more common. When that happens, there is an increase of the roles swapping, with the stay-at-home parent re-entering the workforce, while their newly unemployed spouse cares for the home and the children.


What is your advice for someone who has not been in the workplace for more than a year?


Shore up your network. Your professional contacts may have atrophied, but consider who you know in your social circles who can point you in the right direction. Don’t be shy. If the people who know you and care about you know that you’re seeking work, they’ll do what they can to land you the job you’re looking for.


What is the best way to present your resume if you have gaps of employment?


Employers understand that people take time away from their career to be with family, so be up front. Make it clear in your cover letter that you have been keeping up with the latest trends in your industry. (You HAVE been keeping up, right?) Many employers may be relieved that you’ve gotten the “stay at home with the kids” phase out of your system and consider you more of a stable candidate than one who hasn’t had to make that choice yet.


What is the best way to get a job quickly?


Think of the job hunt as your full-time job. Spend six to seven hours a day on a dedicated job hunt: locating jobs online, developing your network, honing your resume for each new job, crafting your cover letter, going on interviews.


What jobs are best suited for people with family demands?


Best are jobs with very regular (and if at all possible, short) hours so that you’ll know how to schedule childcare and after-school activities. Work from home or telecommute opportunities may seem to be ideal, but it becomes very difficult to balance work time and home time, and you want to give your employer 100 percent of your focus while you’re at home.


Is it possible to get a decent wage for someone working part-time and trying to balance family demands?


It is, but it’s not easy. Most companies are hesitant to offer part-time work at livable wages. Frequently, part-time is synonymous with retail/food service, which is not known for having the best wages.


Who are the most family-friendly employers in the Bay Area?


We recently ran the BAJobs.com Top Employer contest and found that Cisco, Google, Adobe and (cloud-computing firm) VMWare all offer subsidized childcare. Cisco and Google offer onsite childcare. Additionally, Cisco, Yahoo, Union Bank, Adobe, Glassdoor and Coupa Software allow employees to use sick leave to care for dependants.


Simar Khanna is an associate editor at Bay Area Parent.

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