I am planning on leaving the workforce for the next few years to look after my kids. How do I stay abreast to ensure ease of re-entry into the professional world?
Luckily, you can stay on top of your career – without taking too much time away from the little ones. Here’s how:
Keep your network hot. Since you have limited time, you can’t stay up to date with everyone. You have to be laser-focused with you attention, know whom you want to connect with and why, and then go do it. Choose they key people wisely. You know the ones: They know everything about everybody and are not afraid to share it. Let them know what industry trends you’re up on and where you want to plug back in when you are ready.
Stay connected and involved. Maintain memberships with professional associations, continue to volunteer or attend the occasional meeting. Consider forming a group with people in a similar situation to yours. Also, find mentors in the work world whose kids are five or so years ahead of yours and ask them how to successfully navigate the waters. And who knows? Maybe they’ll have some hot job leads for you when you’re ready to go back.
Stay up to date on current industry issues. Get an RSS feeder (from such providers as Bloglines.com), which acts like an online delivery system of the latest developments in your specific areas of interest. Attending conferences and classes in your field can also keep you in the loop and in people’s minds.
Take this time to reflect on your career direction. Through having kids you have changed. Take stock of what is different for you and how you can leverage that in the professional world. Doing information interviews (going out for coffee and asking all your unanswered questions) with people in your industry of interest (old or new) can help you get clarity, and network too.
Globe and Mail; March 21, 2007