So, you’re a lone parent and thinking of going back into employment.
Whether your decision has been driven by a desire to get back to your career, an interest in developing a new career, or a simple need for more money coming into the household, getting new employment can feel daunting, especially if you have been out of the jobs market for some time.
Let’s look at some of the factors that you will need to consider: How to find vacancies to apply for, writing a quality CV, child-care concerns, temping and part-time work and tips for success at interviews.
Finding Employment Opportunities
Many people these days use recruitment agencies, both office based and on the internet. These should be your first port of call. The Internet can be a very useful resource, since some companies advertise only on websites rather than in print.
This is not to say that newspapers should be ignored, since both your local and national newspapers will advertise vacancies, with the nationals often having weekly supplements which focus on specific areas such as engineering, education, and health.
Even less high-tech options such as adverts in shop windows can also bear fruit, so don’t discount anything in your search for the right opportunity.
A Killer CV
It is well known that the interview is a make-or-break process, and a lot rests on it. However, your first focus should be in preparing your CV. After all, unless you catch the eye of the selection panel with your application, you won’t make the interview.
Some jobs will require an application form to be completed, but many request a CV. Therefore, preparing a quality, complete and up-to-date CV is essential. Experiment with the most eye-catching font and layout, and use quality paper.
It must be easy to read and focus the attention on the most important and relevant facts. For this reason, many people start with a personal statement and customise this first paragraph for each application they make.
Child Care Provisions
As a lone parent, you will inevitably be concerned about child-care, since moving into work represents a huge change to your daily routine.
Some people have the luxury of having friends or family on call, and these flexible arrangements mean that you can cast your jobs hunting net much wider than you could if, for example, you are aware that the preferred childminder in your area has vacancies only on certain days after school.
Check out all the options for childminding, both formal and informal, and never turn down a job because you assume that it might be hard to get childminding; you may be surprised at the way everything falls into place when you have a definite work offer.
Part Time or Temporary Work
You would be advised to consider temporary or part-time work. Many great opportunities are available on these terms, because generally there are fewer people pursuing them. However, particularly parent-friendly work such as that in schools, often term-time only and shorter days, can be highly competitive.
Nailing the Job Interview
When you get that coveted interview, think positively. You are already a success getting this far. These tips should help.
- Research the company.
- Prepare a few questions to ask other than ‘when do I start?’ Or ‘how much does it pay?’
- Dress well, and aim to stand out – black is not always appealing or memorable. This doesn’t mean that rainbow Bermuda shorts is the way forward, though!
- Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know something. This is infinitely preferable to the scattergun approach. Instead tell the panel how you would find this answer if you had the chance to do so now.
- Prepare some answers. It is curious how often interviewees are asked to talk about weaknesses, which might catch you out if you haven’t thought about this.
- In summary, to enhance your chances in the recruitment process, be proactive. Approach an employment agency. They can coach you in improving your CV and find the right opportunities for you. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from becoming a working parent, so good luck in your search!