We’d like to believe that when it comes to life, work, and family that men and women have reached something nearing equality. Not so. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2012, 84% of stay-at-home parents were women. Likewise, women are far more likely not to work or to work part-time than men even if the couple doesn’t have children.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a woman choosing not to work in order to raise her children or to pursue other passions, except when she and her husband get divorced. At this point, a woman who has been out of the workforce (or never joined it!) can find her professional skill set and network significantly degraded. This can be especially harrowing if she takes primary custody of her children and must find a way to support them with vastly less money than she is used to.
If you are considering a divorce and are currently not working, working part-time, or working at an underpaying job, now is the time to start preparing for a future post-divorce professional career. While the decision to divorce can happen quickly for some, in many cases, it takes a woman months or even years to finally get to the point where she is ready to make the announcement to her spouse. If you are somewhere in this process, even if you aren’t sure that you will eventually get divorced, it is still a good idea to start preparing to get back to work.
Training and School
If you can, start seeking the training and education you will need to pursue the career you really want. It may be much harder to pay for school or find the time to take an important training course after you are divorced. Identify the skills you need to get the job that you want. Do you need a college degree or a special certification? What skills are you lacking?
Start looking at degree courses in your area or certification programs at technical schools. Many schools offer part-time degrees or even online degree programs, which may be more convenient if you have young children. There are also tons of adult learning courses you can take and even online webinars to learn and improve specific skills.
We don’t like to admit it, but in many cases getting a job is all about who you know. Lou Adler, author of The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired set up a survey on LinkedIn asking people how they found their job. Out of over 3,000 respondents, an astonishing 85% said networking played some role in getting a job.
If you’ve been staying home taking care of the kids, you may have missed out on important opportunities to meet people who could let you know about job openings before they hit job boards or put your resume in the right hands. There are plenty of things you can do to put yourself out in the world to build your professional network. Start by creating a highly polished LinkedIn account.
Next, join industry groups on Facebook and LinkedIn and follow industry leaders on Twitter. Comment. Ask advice. Give advice. Let people know who you are. Consider becoming a member of local business networking groups and attending lunch-and-learns and events in the industry where you want to work.
Polish Off That Resume
Finally, you’ll want to make sure your cover letter and resume are updated and polished to a shine so that you can send them out as soon as you are ready. If you’ve been out of the workforce for a long time, you might consider meeting with a career counselor or even seeking the help of a job placement agency. Many cities offer free job counseling services, and if you work with a job placement specialist, he or she will be more than happy to help guide your progress, since he or she gets paid when you get hired!
We know that divorce (even if you’re just thinking about it) can be incredibly stressful, but that’s no excuse to simply sit at home and worry about your future. The reason you are getting a divorce may be because you want to take control of your life and empower yourself. Keep that in mind as you start preparing to re-enter the workforce or to get the job that you really want. These actions, more than any other, can help you build the financially stable life you want for yourself and your children after the divorce is finalized.