Returning to the workforce with a family

tumblr_mg19l2wNKq1qa431co1_500_largeI recently met with a mom of younger children who is looking to get back into the agency world (she took a 5+ year break to start her family). She used to work at an agency located here in Atlanta. After speaking with her over coffee, I was impressed and enthusiastic to get her connected (especially because we must support each other as women, after all). But, I struggled to with giving her advice on the best next steps.

I reached out to two women I respect here at Engauge who have both a career and a family to humbly ask their advice and what they’d recommend to a peer for reconnecting professionally in general and within the local marketing network.

They had excellent advice. In summary, they shared that to get experience she had to show she had the knowledge that qualified her for the experience. The best way of doing this was by creating personal branding opportunities and by freelancing. With their advice, here is a quick list to get back into the marketing/agency world after taking a break for a few years:

  • Freelance work: Start small (they said this is the most important!). Begin with small ad-hoc/freelance projects to rebuild one’s current portfolio. Deliver double what the project manager asked so that one then has samples of  best work to share. Example starting places to search:
    • Freelancer
    • Craiglist for freelance work (surprising – I know)
    • Professional network job boards (such as AIMA or PRSSA)
    • More options
    • Numerous job sites that not only list full-time, but contract or freelance work as well – Indeed is a great starting place
  • Blog: Their second highest recommendation was to blog to show that even though one has officially been out of the space for some time, she still knows what she is talking about
  • Social presences: “Hav[ing] a well-built LinkedIn page and be[ing] active in social media” creates a place for employers to go first and get to know her. In fact, “this is easy enough to do using WordPress and several key plug-ins that support SEO, author tags, and social sharing”
  • Resume and cover letter: “Make sure these are first-class”

These factors were indicated as important but not the most important. This can help one reentering the work place to not fall down the “rabbit hole” of one article after another.

  • Network: Begin attending AIMA and AMA events. Not only will one gain access to a tight-knit network, she will hear from the best and brightest in the industry. There is also a fantastic women-centric networking group local to Atlanta, called Digital Divas.
  • Read: Read leading blogs on a regular basis (using Feedly or Flipboard). Fast Company (Design, Exist, and Create) is very popular right now, and Mashable is a good starting-point that doesn’t get too technical. Forrester and Altimeter are two good blogs to read periodically as well

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