When I became a single mom at the age of 25, I went from being an independent college student to someone who lived with her parents again.
I still had a year of university left and no job. And trying to get a job just after I’d given birth was an unthinkable task. I was completely unprepared for this new role in my life.
Today, I’ve reached a comfortable place in my life. My son is 10 years old and I can share the lessons I’ve learned.
This post is for women at home with a young baby who aren’t sure what to do. I will share key lessons I wish someone had told me about when I was looking after a child and uncertain about the future.
Here are my best tips on creating the best career outcomes for yourself when you’re ready to rejoin the workforce.
1. Build your skills every day
Being a mom to a young child means that your days are filled with random activities and unexpected events.
You can never tell when your child will get sick, be happy to play on its own, or demand attention from you for hours on end.
It’s easy to say that you’ll focus on your career later when you have free time. However, that’s a mistake.
I know what ‘later’ means and I sympathize fully. But the best thing you can do for yourself is build a marketable skill daily.
It’s amazing how time flies when you’re caring for a child. But that should also serve as a warning not to assume that you’ll have plenty of time to focus on your career in the future.
2. Even 10 minutes matters
In the previous section, I asked you to build a marketable skill. But I know the first thing you’re thinking is, ‘Where will I find the time?’
Here’s the thing, you don’t have to sit for hours together to focus on skill-building. Just 10 minutes of work a day will make a powerful difference.
Here are some ideas for what you can do in 10 minutes:
- Listen to one episode of a podcast
- Edit the ‘About’ section of your LinkedIn profile
- Craft one social media post
- Search for one new job opening
- Send 5 connection requests to people in a field you want to join
And so on. You can achieve a lot with just 10 minutes of work. The key is to do it daily.
My personal regret is starting to learn how to code and not sticking to it.
I wanted to pick up coding seven years ago but gave up after a few weeks of trying. Seven years flew by; if I had stuck to it, I would be a software engineer today.
3. Create a portfolio
When I started job hunting, one thing that worked against me was a lack of evidence of my skills.
I simply did not have a body of work to show that I was a competent writer.
You need to build a portfolio of your work to showcase your skills. If you’re a writer, start a blog.
If you’re looking to get into digital marketing, create social media posts for fun. If you want to get into event planning, start organizing small events in your neighborhood. And save pictures, posters, and other material to act as proof.
The idea is to have a body of work to show employers when they come knocking.
4. Get into the right community
Another lesson that I learned very late was the power of community.
It isn’t enough to have skills and a portfolio. You also need to be a part of the right community.
The reason is simple – most jobs are found through networking.
You’re far more likely to get your dream job if you know someone in the company who can vouch for your skills.
And not only that, but when you join social media groups, membership sites, and forums you’ll also learn a lot.
I wish I had joined more relevant online communities starting out. It would have saved me a lot of time and effort.
5. Learn to use tools
When women become full-time mothers, they tend to lose touch with the latest tools and technologies.
This is a mistake because new tools can help you save time, be more productive, and learn new things. Not only that, knowing how to use online tools makes you a valuable asset in the job market.
So, make it a point to learn how to use new tools, even if you don’t think you need them right now. For example, learn how to use the following:
- Image editing tools
- Coding tools
- Social media platforms for marketing and selling products
- Lead generation tools
- Accounting and tax management platforms
And anything else you can think of. There are tools for every industry, so make sure you’re up-to-date.
I hope these five lessons will help you in your journey as a single mother and career woman. It’s never too late to learn new things and change your career. Just make sure you don’t give up on your dreams.
These lessons helped me get my dream job, and I hope they’ll do the same for you.