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Women and Work: How Can I Restart my Career?

Reading time: 4 minutes

Highlights:

  • The Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic has strongly affected working women.
  • When job hunting, explain that the employment gaps on your resume are due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Because of changing attitudes about remote work, you may be able to negotiate additional flexibility with your new employer.
  • Some employers may have reduced salaries and benefits during the pandemic. However, when returning to work, make sure you're being offered a fair wage.

The Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic has strongly affected working women. Labor force participation for women has dropped to its lowest level since 1998. However, many women are looking to restart their careers.

I stopped working due to the Covid-19 pandemic. How do I restart my career?

Returning to the workforce after a job loss can be intimidating. Some steps you can take include:

  1. Update your resume. Highlight successes and projects you completed with your previous employers. Make sure your resume is neat, well-organized, and filled with details that show your skills.
  2. Commit to a broad job hunt. Use websites such as LinkedIn, Indeed and Glassdoor to find job postings. Reach out to your network and both in-person and online.
  3. Volunteer to learn new skills. Not-for-profit organizations may welcome extra help and assign you tasks that can help build new skills.
  4. Stay Flexible. Think about how your experience could apply to different jobs. Consider making a career change to an industry that interests and engages you.

Should I explain the gap in my resume?

Explain that the gap on your resume is due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Doing so shows employers that your job loss didn't occur because of poor performance. Plus, you're not alone — more than 15 percent of Americans lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

How can I rebuild my network after the pandemic?

The pandemic has made it harder for women across all industries to keep in touch with their professional contacts. So, if you're looking to re-enter the workforce, a strong network can help you find a new job.

Don't be afraid to reach out to former colleagues and friends through email or networking sites such as LinkedIn. Share what you've been doing since you last spoke and establish a time to call and discuss your careers.

Should I return to my former employer, if I'm able?

If your former employer offers to rehire you, consider these two questions before signing on:

  1. Did I like my former employer? If not, consider leveraging your previous experience to apply for roles at similar companies instead.
  2. Did I like my former industry? If not, consider a career change. The pandemic has offered working Americans the chance to learn new skills. If you feel comfortable enough to educate yourself and take on a job in an industry that's more interesting to you.

Can I ask for more flexibility at work?

Online school and cancelled childcare have made returning to work particularly difficult for working mothers. If you need more work-from-home or other types of flexibility from an employer, consider taking these steps:

  1. Recognize and quantify your needs. Don't leave it to your employer to figure out what changes will enable you to perform your job successfully.
  2. Explain the benefits of increased flexibility. Whether it's more work-from-home days or a shift in hours, tell your employer why this change will empower you to become a more productive employee.
  3. Be ready to negotiate. Don't expect your employer to fulfill all of your requests. Be prepared to meet in the middle and plan your initial ask accordingly.

Should I expect a pay cut when returning to work?

Some employers may have reduced salaries and benefits during the pandemic. However, when preparing to return to work, make sure you're being offered a fair wage. If your skills and abilities haven't changed since before the pandemic, you deserve to be paid the same.

If you think an employer isn't offering a high enough salary, don't be afraid to negotiate your compensation package. A 2018 survey from PayScale found that 70 percent of workers who asked for a pay increase received one. If an employer is set on hiring you, they may be willing to give you a salary bump rather than trying to hire and train a new candidate.

For more tips on returning to the workforce, read our article on job-hunting during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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