Going Back to Work After 21 Years!!

Updated on October 25, 2009
L.C. asks from Miami, FL
11 answers

Hello All,

I am seeking any advice or help that any of you may have. I am a stay at home mom for over 19 years now. I was blessed to be able to stay home and be there for both my children. Was very involved in all school activities including the PTA.

Now as the economy is effecting all of us I find myself need and wanting to go back to work. But.....where do I start?? How do I make a resume that will explain even though i have been busy and very involved in the school and community I have no work experience to put down. My last job was in 1989 as a purchsing agent.

Please, I will take any and all advive.

Thank you so much.

L. C.

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So What Happened?

THANK YOU so much to all of you for all your ideas and good wishes.
I know I have my work cut out for me but you guys make it all seem
so possible.

More Answers



answers from Jacksonville on

Treat it just like a job resume. You can tweak it to not have to be about jobs.

Example: you volunteered at your child's elementary school as yearbook salesperson

for the place, you'd put the school. for the job, salesperson. list any responsibilities you may have had (soliciting sales, managing the till, handwriting a receipt, etc). Put what year(s) you did this, and if you sold the most yearbooks- put that in there! highest sales! where you would normally put in salary, just put volunteer hours. instead of listing a supervisor, list a contact person they can call to verify this information if they need to.

For a cover letter, I would word it something along the lines of how you've spent 19 years using your skills to serve your community and family and you would like the opportunity to serve this company.. etc.

the main point of a resume is to allow the person to skim over the paper and get an idea of your skills and what you can do, and sometimes even a little bit of personality. As long as you follow a similar format, you can present yourself in a way that is just as appealing as someone who has been in the work force.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Tallahassee on

As a SAHM myself, I understand your worries. I also feel that this "job" of ours gives us a wide variety of skills and experience that no other job does. The trick is to get your future employers to know you haven't been just "doing nothing" these last years - you were working like everyone else! So, first and foremost believe in yourself and your ability to learn quickly. No doubt when someone gives you a chance, you'll need to learn allot. But if you don't believe in yourself 200%, why should they invest $$$ in you? They won't. So confidence is key. Also, what you lack in what they will call "real" experience (if only they knew) you can make up for with ingenuity. For example, the kind lady who prepares our tax information for my husband and I labels my profession as a homemaking engineer. So stretch a few carefully selected words a long way - and do it with a confident smile. Lastly if you are not up to date with the latest resume software or internet aids, your 19 or 17 year old can lend a helping hand.

Good luck to you!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pensacola on

I would start with the local library. The librarian can point you in the direction of a vast amount of resources to help you along the way.
You could make an appointment with the unemployment agency. Many times they offer classes on resume writing and job searching for free. And they can help you search.
I would also consider a company like Adecco. They're a temp agency, so people contact them to fill in needed workers. They also assess skills and help you get a position.
Good luck! I hope you find something you like!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

Hi L.. I know it's very hard for everyone right now. My suggestion would be to volunteer for a few weeks for whatever career you choose. I know it may sound crazy because you are not being paid for this but that will help you catch up with technology and learn as much as you can while you are doing this. I also know a lot of people are usually over-qualified for many jobs out there, but just getting your foot in is enough to sell yourself for what you want. Volunteering is also good for your resume beacause it shows sacrifice. About the divorce, you will be just fine because you dont have little kids he doesent deserve you. Its time to think about you, being alone is not so bad so hang in there it will all work out. God bless you

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

I agree with Amanda's post below. Put your volunteer experience down. One more tip... I NEVER put dates on my resume. I have rarely ever had anyone ask for dates or how long ago I did something, so when you put down your previous work experience you don't have to put the dates and the person skimming your resume won't have any idea (or care) how long ago it was. Your biggest issue will be references. It's likely that the managers you worked for in the past are no longer with the company. Be prepared with three references of people who are in a professional position, like principal and assistant principal for the school(s) where you volunteered and even your childrens' teachers who you assisted. Good luck finding a job. Try Career Builder online at the Orlando Sentinal and try Craigslist-- you never know what you'll find there, but be careful of scams.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I have been doing resumes for people for over 15 years.

Here is what I suggest:
Name and contact and skills sets (examples below):
Time Management
Related Experience

Let's say you are applying for an admin job. You would put things like this:

Effectively run an team of 5 to achieve desired outcomes

Responsible for the prompt and efficient attention to details corresponding to numerous team member schedules

Outstanding delivery of ethical lessons and training to run an ethically sound team.

just say here what you DO for this company.

It is no longer necessary to give dates and job hsitory - no one cares. What they care about is what you can and WILL DO for them.

PS: i don't do resumes anymore as I run my own business:
www.SolutionsForMyFamily.com. Just in case you were interested in going into business for yourself.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Hi L.,

After having 15+ years in the teaching field and then working as a children's minister, I have the job of my dreams now - staying home and working with my son by my side. I simply manage an appointment setting team and earn a residual income while doing so. You can set your own schedule and work around that rather than around a job schedule. If you interested in learning more, visit my website and click "Get More Info." You'll get free information for the asking and I will respond to your request personally. BTW, this is NOT a sales call. I do not sale, stock or deliver.

Make it a great day!
K. Woodlief

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

Hi. There are people who write resumes for a living. It might be worth investing the cost so that they can make your resume sound great with all your volunteering, etc...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Hi L., you've had some fantastic advice from others, but it still must seem daunting to face so many challenges. As I read the other posts, it occurred to me that Confidence will be your greatest ASSET, but during my own divorce, it was almost a non-existent commodity. Good friends will help you to re-connect with the real you. You know who I mean, that Fabulous, Fun, CONFIDENT Woman who knows that SHE IS WORTHY of all the blessings life has to offer.

Surround yourself with friends and family who encourage and lift you up. Take a vacation from any relationships that drag you down emotionally or financially. Of course, that doesn't mean your kids, you're kind of in this together! Having said that, they aren't babies. My own kids worked throughout high school because they understood the reality of our family's finances.

In seeking employment, it's important to network in every way possible. You never know who will have info about an available job. Don't worry, too much, about your lack of recent work experience. After all, our President's most notable work experience was as a "Community Organisor". Isn't that what You and MILLIONS of other Stay-At-Home Parents do? L., in case no one has told you recently, "Your good enough, tough enough, and You Rock!!" I'm looking forward to hearing of your success. Bless you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

Hi L.: I too stayed home after a busy career in RE Appraising. I have kept my license; but did few and far between closings/sales. I am a professional artist, and have been marketing that aspect for over 15 years.
All professions/businesses are feeling a financial pinch right now; and my job lately has been to look for jobs. I search Craigs List.com, Monster.com, Careerbuilder.com; and a host of other "free" sites.
Most businesses are firing, not hiring. Most businesses hiring are inundated with job applications, so the chance of getting hired is narrowed. I make a terrible waitress, but that seems to be the jobs open...
Absolutely list your volunteer years while you raised your children. This is a valid period of your life where you gave to your community. List your past experience as a purchasing agent and where/when...
I state on my resume that "during years ...I helped to build my husband's law practice, volunteered at church as newsletter editor, lay reader and sunday school teacher, PTA member and school volunteer..." all of these activities show you have a competence level that so many younger job applicants do not.
I also want to say that "work at home" jobs are 99% scam...It's all about "let me show you how to rip off other people like I'm going to rip you off"...and I despise MLM. However, if you want to artistically stage your home for sale or just get a fresh look, learn to paint, I love to pass on my gift, let me know.
And best wishes to your kids.
Been through divorce. Please contact me if you feel I can assist you through this turbulence. It's unpleasant; but not forever.
Love is forever. Hope that you find some inkling of love and get comfort there.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Unfortunately I couldn't be there for my kids as much as I wanted. They were "latch key" kids because I was a single Mom. I gave them chores to do every day so that they would stay busy until I got home from work. I even worked a 2nd job from midnight to 4am! And they never even knew I was gone and I was always petrified something would happen to them. I was scared and exhausted. Thank God that they all are responsible adults now and that I didn't have to deal with drugs or anything else that is detrimental to kids.

Now, get ready, here I go on my soap box: You do not have to go to a J.O.B. (Just Over Broke) Don't say you have no "work experience", think about how many hats you had to wear to be a "Domestic Engineer"! There are plenty work at home opportunities out there that do not requires a resume, just dedication and determination. However, that being said please do your research. There are a lot of acams out there, trust me I know, I've unfortunately joined some of them and wasted time and money. Learn the difference between a "work at home job" and a "work at home Opportunity/Career." Stuffing envelopes and taking surveys are not careers, My advice is to make sure they have a proven track record, are at least 10 years old, are not start up companies AND they have RESIDUAL income so that you can enjoy your retirement the way you want, not the way you can afford. A reputable company usually has a low start up fee. You don't have to pay a "start up cost" but a career that is a business and any business has overhead costs so that is a given. You ARE getting something for your LOW COST fee. A lot of companies want anywhere from $500 to $1,000's to startup. That is a red flag. Don't go with a company that wants you to buy inventory and then wants you to sell to your friends and family at a high cost or tells you to go out and have parties at OTHER people's homes, not yours!. That is NOT a TRUE work at home opportunity. Find a company that truly has something everyone needs and that you can be passionate about. Check their credentals. Go to "Ripoff.com" to see if they are scams or not. It took me a long time to find mine so there are some out there. Now I can finally be home for my kids to help watch my beautiful grandchildren anytime they need me! Good luck on your search! You are worthy of a life of abundance, just like God wants for all of His children. God Bless!

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