Question: I have 14 years experience in non-profit development and left my last job in January to move my family across the country and have my third child. I would like to return to work in the non-profit sector in my new city this fall. I am wondering the best approach to applying for work after an absence, albeit brief, and in a new community where I have no professional connections. I landed my previous positions pre-recession simply by applying and sending in resumes, so any tips on networking and getting to the ‘top of the list’ would be greatly appreciated. — Larsen
Answer: It’s reasonable to wonder, with a slow jobs recovery, whether biases against working mothers will factor into employers’ hiring decisions. In your case, there are 14 years of experience to consider and you have only been off work for six months. These aren’t red flags to most employers. You had a child and relocated. That’s a lot to have going on all out once. Good for you!
Now that you’re ready to rejoin the workforce in a new city, blindly responding to job ads or posting your resume to sites online, as you’ve done in the past, probably won’t do the trick this time. The nonprofit sector is very competitive right now with spillover from the private sector. It’s important that you get out there and network as often as you can. That might be difficult to do with three kids, but it’s important that you make time.
I’d recommend you start by reaching out to professional organizations and attending their events. You might even want to consider joining at least one if you are not a member already. Get involved in affiliate chapters of groups you already belong to, and, Viola! instant network. Don’t put this off. Identify the key influencers in these organizations and introduce yourself. Professionals who are already entrenched locally with a good reputation might be willing to take you under wing and introduce you around. Establishing personal connections are essential when you are the new kid on the block.
In the meantime, if you need to start earning cash right away, consider looking into the temp to permanent market. You mentioned that you worked in nonprofit development. That could involve either programming or fundraising. Each is a pound the pavement, beat the bushes type career, and the top performers really stand out. In fact, they are an employer’s dream. So even if it isn’t where you want to end up, it could get you in the door.
Also, don’t let your new kid on the block, new mommy status dilute your brand in your own mind. You’ve already proven you have what it takes.