By Rachelle Lappinen
When a stay-at-home mom decides to return to work, it can be a big surprise.
According to Richard Bolles, author of "What Color is Your Parachute," the job market has changed significantly since 2008. Therefore, what used to work, doesn't anymore.
Now, for any given job, the average number of people applying is 118. How do you stand out from the 117?
Re-entering the workforce involves learning a whole new process now.
One cannot just expect to start applying online and receive a job offer in a few short weeks.
After assessing your transferable skills and writing your resume, it is time to focus on the most effective way to find a job - networking.
According to Bolles, more than 80% of jobs are found through networking. Research backs up that statistic.
Reconnect with your network. Being out of the workforce for a long time can create a feeling of isolation, but, remember, you are not really isolated. So reach out to your current and past network!
Think of everyone you know.
Get back in touch with your former co-workers, and also your mom's group, members of the PTO, Boy Scout and Daisy leaders, other soccer parents, and more.
All of these people are part of your network. You never know who is married to the HR director of the company you are looking to work for.
Remember, when you are a stay-at-home mom, you are working. So create one, or update your existing LinkedIn Profile to support your job search. Include your volunteer activities, board memberships, and freelance projects.
[Read Job-Hunt's free Guide to LinkedIn for Job Search for more details.]
Facebook is under-estimated as a good platform for job seekers:
[Read Job-Hunt's free Guide to Facebook for Job Search for more details.]
After you create your profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, as well as Twitter, use these platforms to network with your connections.
Most importantly, use these social media tools to reach out to contacts and connect with them in person.
Before you start to network, you need to have child care in place, and a back-up to your child care. Once you start setting up networking meetings, you don't want to have to cancel your meetings due to a lack of child care.
Reach out to family, friends, members of your church, and the parents of your children's friends.
Don't be afraid of asking for help! This is a part of the networking process too. Networking is about helping others without expecting immediate help in return. During your time at home with your children, you helped many, and helped educate our future citizens.
Now it is time to reach out and ask for help, and build your own support network.
After so much time at home, you may feel that you don't know anyone who can help you in your job search. Write out a list of everyone you know, from your hairdresser and yoga instructor to the leaders of your daughter's Daisy Troop and more.
You never know who is connected to someone who has the power to hire you. One of my job seekers landed a job through the mother of their son's best friend. Include members from your church, your family and their co-workers, your former co-workers, and school and corporate alumni.
This is where the power of LinkedIn comes in - helping you find out who is connected to who.
Actually practice improving your communication skills. A great and safe place to do that is an organization like "Toastmasters International."
Here, you can practice improvisational speech - through table topics - where you are asked to speak for 1 to 2 minutes on a random subject. You can also practice your presentation skills and earn a designation of "Competent Communicator."
Join a job-seeking networking group, sometimes called a "job club," where you can practice networking in a safe environment.
You may have heard of the idea of an elevator pitch. Amy Cuddy talks about this in her famous TED talk.
The idea is to have a 30 to 60-second pitch you could quickly give in the time it takes an elevator to go from the first to the top floor.
In our Twitter, etc., social media-filled world, people's attention spans have decreased. You will want to develop a quick, short, and to-the-point elevator pitch, and then practice it.
[For how-to details, read How to Develop a Killer Elevator Speech.]
Of course, this is not a full and comprehensive list of networking sources and skills needed for your job search. For more ideas, Google "Using networking to find a job" and you will find many more! Also, watch for future posts for more in-depth ways to use LinkedIn, social media, etc., to network your way to a job.
By day, Rachelle Lappinen, working mother of two, serves as a college and career advisor for GEAR UP. When Rachelle is not writing her blog or advising her students, she enjoys camping and going to the theater with her children. Follow Rachelle on Twitter at @RLappinen, connect with her on LinkedIn, and follow her blog SolutionsByRachelle.