As a dad, you are probably well aware of the weight of responsibility you carry on your shoulders.
Not only do you have to provide financially for your family. But you also need to play your part in raising your children, emotionally supporting your partner and living up to societal expectations of what constitutes a ‘real man’.
All of this against the backdrop of sleep deprivation, money worries and the constant nagging fear of what if something happens to your loved ones.
Sometimes this can take its toll mentally, physically and emotionally, on even the strongest of men. After all, if women can’t ‘have it all’, how can you expect fathers to be able to?
For this reason, something has to give and increasingly for many men in Australia, they choose it to be their career. You only have a few precious years before your babies are born and they start prep. Then before you know it, they are in high school and have grown into teenagers, at which point you turn into a taxi service and a bank.
If you chose to become a stay-at-home dad, relaunching your career once your children have grown older, can be very difficult – harder than even for women, due to stigmas that arise from stereotypes around gender roles.
But with data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealing there are currently over 144,000 stay-at-home dads in the country looking after dependent children, it is only a matter of time before more and more men will be looking to get back into the workforce.
If you find yourself in this situation now, here are ten tips that can help you find new employment.
1. Know what you want
The first thing you will need to focus on is to decide what you work you want to do.
Are you looking to return to the same roles and industry you were doing before you took a parenting break? Or do you fancy changing careers and working in a completely different sphere?
Some dads prefer to stick to what they know and are qualified for, while others want to try something new. So, it is worth taking the time to mull over what you want your next employment move to be.
If you are struggling to come up with an answer, talking to a career’s adviser might provide some clarity.
2. Update your resume
Once you have decided the industry or field you want to work in, you should start to update your resume.
Depending on how long you have been out of the workforce for, there will be an obvious gap in the employment timeline of your CV. This should be addressed early on in your covering letter and your resume to enable you to ‘own’ your decision and prevent recruiters from drawing incorrect conclusions about your hiatus.
You don’t have to go into too much detail. But make it clear you chose to leave the workforce in order to focus on raising your child(ren) as a stay-at-home dad (and were not made redundant).
If you need help to rewrite your resume for the current job market, it is a good idea to enlist the services of a professional CV writer. They will be adept at helping you promote your skills and achievements in a way that will help to make you stand out as a candidate.
3. Get Trained
During your time away, a lot might have changed in the workforce. Not least due to the impact of COVID-19, which revolutionised how many companies conduct their business.
For this reason, you may lack certain technical skills, knowledge or competencies that are deemed desirable in any given role. Therefore, to strengthen your attractiveness as a candidate, you should take it upon yourself to brush up on your skills in these areas.
It is a good idea therefore to seek training on specific databases, software or other elements like social media content creation that might be crucial to the job you want to apply for. Doing this will show recruiters that you are a self-starter who is serious about hitting the ground running and committed to making a contribution to their company.
As well as training, you might also need to invest in studying for formal qualifications, particularly if you are in mind to reinvent yourself via a new career path.
There are plenty of higher education courses you can choose to pursue at either a traditional university or an online institution like UNSW. Some of them are full time, while others are part-time which can fit around your work schedule when you finally get a new job.
Again, studying for a formal qualification will demonstrate your seriousness about rejoining the workforce in your chosen field.
5. Leverage your network
There is a good chance you know a lot of people, both in a personal and professional sense. So, it is a savvy idea to leverage this network by telling everyone you know you are back in the game.
The old saying ‘it’s not what you know it’s who you know’ remains true, today. Therefore, your connections can be an excellent resource to tap into to help you get back into full time employment.
Tell everyone you know that you are actively job hunting and in what industry and field. They may well have mutual contact or themselves know of an available role.
It is also a good idea to grow your network through LinkedIn. Take the time to search through companies you would like to work for or professional bodies of relevance and connect to individuals who are ‘open to network’.
This can be an excellent way to open new doors of opportunity.
6. Get your name out there
Connecting with people on LinkedIn is a good start. But if you really want to improve your chances of getting work you should make an effort to get your name out there.
The best way to do this is to post regular and insightful content that resonates with others. Try to make them interactive, relevant and stats based, as these types of posts are most likely to get you noticed and then shared.
Also, don’t be afraid to tell your personal story. Your story is unique and admirable. You made a brave and honourable decision to leave the workforce to focus on your children and in the process showed admirable traits many companies could use.
As a general rule, try and post once a week, at a time when you are most likely to make a bigger impact. But make sure you comment on other people’s posts every day as that is also another way to get yourself noticed.
7. Be open to entry level roles
In the same way as a footballer, after a loan term injury, might play in the reserves until they have fully sharpened their match fitness, you should be open to taking an entry level role.
Just because you might have been earning a decent amount before your career break, doesn’t mean you will be able to command it straightaway. Moreover, many companies might be reluctant to hire someone – even with your experience – who has been out of the game for as long as you have.
As a result, it might be worth accepting a position at a more junior level that you were previously at. Doing this can help you rebuild your professional reputation, add more currently relevant experience to your resume, and even lead to other opportunities within the company you join.
Generally speaking, you should see these types of positions as a short-term stepping stone that can soon help to land you a more prestigious role.
8. Do a returnship
If you don’t fancy an entry level role, how about a returnship?
You might not be aware of it, but several companies in Australia offer returnship programmes that are specifically designed for professionals who want to rejoin the workforce. Essentially, they are like internships, but operate at a more elevated level.
They are paid opportunities that typically help you to build your confidence, sharpen your skills, increase your knowledge base and expand your network.
These programmes can be invaluable for dads who are looking to bounce straight back into work after their parental break. They can often lead to formal job offers if you suitably impressed.
Recruitment agencies like Michael Page or Robert Walters should be a good first point of contact to discover these opportunities.
9. Prepare for Interviews
At some point, your resume will do its job in impressing a recruiter enough to call you in for an interview. This is your time to shine!
As a stay-at-home dad, who possibly was in their previous role for a very long time, the thought of having an interview can be quite nerve-wracking. However, it is important to remember that you have got jobs before because you have done well in interviews, and you are more than capable of doing so again.
Make sure you prepare properly by having answers ready for common questions they might ask – particularly the difficult ones. Additionally, always be honest and try to focus on what you will bring to the organisation. They already believe you have the skills and experience to do the job you applied for, they just want to see how good a fit you are for the company.
If they ask about your career break (and they will) make sure you outline what skills you honed whilst being a father, for instance, juggling priorities, time management, multi-tasking – all of which can be applied to the role you are being interviewed for.
10. Stay Positive
Lastly, it is important to stay positive. When you apply for any position, you are going up against many other well-suited candidates. So, if you don’t manage to secure the role, try not to beat yourself up about it.
Instead, ask for honest feedback on how you came across in the interview and whether there is any aspect of your resume or your answers that needs to be improved upon. If you apply the intel the recruiter gives, you can take it on board and come back stronger on your next application.