It will soon be two years since I made the difficult decision to leave my almost-dream job – team-lead/manager of an embedded software engineering group at a small company – to stay home and enjoy the early years of motherhood. It’s always been my plan to resume my career eventually, but I deliberately left the question of when that would be undefined. “I’ll know when it’s time to go back,“ I blithely told my former work friends whenever I met them for lunch. Meanwhile I would nervously ask a trusted mentor, “Just how long can I stay out?”
Recently a series of events led me to the conclusion that it’s time to go back, at least for part-time work. First, I realized that during naptime I was checking and rechecking my favorite blogs and forums for new posts – in the past a sure indicator that I was bored. Books on finding the right career, starting your own business, and managing work/life balance began catching my eye in the library. Posts about The Feminine Mistake reminded me about the financial and career hits that grow larger the longer you are out of the workforce. Then a stay-at-home dad joined my playgroup. Although he looked vaguely familiar, I couldn’t place him until he said, “Remember me? We used to work together.” It had been 6 years since I’d left the company where we were coworkers, and he’d been in a different group, but once prompted, I recognized him. It turned out he was working part-time, about 20 hr/wk, in a university computing group that developed equipment for scientists. When I started asking him questions about how part-time worked for him, he offered to post my resume on their internal site.
A mentor of mine once gave me the advice that if someone offers to connect you with an opportunity, you should act right away. So I dusted off my resume and gave it to my friend. “No promises,” he said, and I didn’t expect to hear much. I was stunned when the very next day I received a call. I hadn’t really thought much about what I was looking for or what I had to offer, so I had to wing it during the phone interview. Although the phone interview went well enough that I was asked to come tour the lab and talk in person, the project is still in the planning stage and I haven’t been hired yet. While I have been waiting to see what unfolds, I have slowly begun to talk to other people I know locally in the industry about the possibility of doing some part-time consulting work. In two cases, I was called for a phone screen within a day or two of sending my resume. There have been a number of questions that caught me flat-footed, so I made a list of things you may want to think about before you send that resume.