One of the major lessons from 2020 and a worldwide pandemic has been how our workplaces continue to fail women, specifically mothers and women of color. As women continue to shoulder the majority of caregiving and domestic responsibilities, and vulnerable industries like hospitality are often dominated by women of color, the past 12 months have seen a huge increase in women leaving the workforce.
Women are leaving jobs or reducing hours to care for children and family members, and millions more were laid off or have experienced reduced work due to travel and dining restrictions. These issues won’t be solved overnight, but there are a few ways women can start to feel more in control and simplify the process of finding a job.
Tips for getting back in the workforce
Consider temporary work. Contract gigs, freelancing and temporary jobs can offer great flexibility while allowing you to bring in a paycheck and stay engaged with your career. Employers are increasingly likely to utilize temporary or contract workers as the economy steadily recovers from the pandemic, making it an ideal time to try a new industry, make money and work around your lifestyle.
Update and maintain your job seeker profile. Your resume is polished, tailored and ready to go. It's succinct and highlights your accomplishments, but you didn’t have room to list that you’ve earned a professional certificate during quarantine or that you’ve gained new skills via online classes. This is what your job seeker profile is for – to show that candidates like you are always evolving and improving.
Utilize transferrable skills. Whether you’re looking to switch industries and your break from the workforce has allowed to regroup, or your job has changed so much and you want to take your career to the next level, focus on the skills you have that will get you there. Soft skills like leadership, organization and communication are valuable in any role, and think critically how your technical skills can be applied to other jobs. Here is a three-step strategy to get hired based on your skills.
Flex your confidence muscle. Speak up for what you need and be open about your pandemic experience. Statistically, women are less likely to negotiate their salary or benefits and to try and assuage fears about gaps in their resume. First, employers are worrying less about those gaps, especially if you have a perfectly good reason (like being laid off, dealing with a pandemic or both). Second, the right job for you should meet your personal needs, including flexibility for caregiving. When you’re tailoring your resume, writing a cover letter or interviewing, be confident, open and honest.
Rely on and enlist your network. This can be asking your partner to take on more responsibilities, forming a neighborhood community group or finding other ways to delegate what needs to get done so you can focus on your job hunt. This can also look like a supportive group chat or confiding in a close friend or family member about challenges you’re facing. Again, women are up against real barriers that won’t disappear overnight, but a strong support system can help you get through in the short-term.