Five tips to help you return to work after a divorce

Need to return to work after a divorce? Here are five tips to help ease the transition.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, 61.6% of married couples with children had both parents working. That means just under 40% of married couples with children have at least one parent who stays at home.

While this arrangement might work well during your marriage, if you get divorced it can put a strain on your financial situation – especially if you were the parent who stayed at home. 

The process of splitting up is expensive. The average divorce in the US costs about $15,000. Then, of course, there are your continued living expenses, whether you’re staying in the marital home or moving somewhere new. So whether you like it or not, returning to work may be an inevitability for you.

Looking for work after a break can feel intimidating

There are many reasons why you no longer work. You might have put your career on pause to raise your children. Or it might now have been financially viable to work and pay for expensive daycare.

Whatever the reason why you’ve taken a career break, returning to work agin can feel like an uphill battle, especially if you’re reeling emotionally from your breakup.

If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, the who job hunting process can feel intimidating and overwhelming, and you may well feel woefully unprepared. To help ease the transition, get hired faster, and to make the most of this change in circumstances we’ve put together these five tips.

1) Make sure you have the right skills

Returning to work after a divorce is a little different from returning after a short leave, as you might do after having a baby. It’s highly likely, that the working world has changed drastically since you set foot in an office or any other place of employment. 

In some cases, getting new training or even going back to school can help you to land a job. Retraining for a job you used to have can be simple. Sometimes, all it takes is a few online classes or training courses to get up to date.

In other cases, you might have to attend a school or specific training courses in order to get a degree or certificate. There are plenty of benefits to returning to school as an adult, including: 

  • Growing your network.
  • A wider variety of programs.
  • You’ll have better time management skills.
  • Adult courses are typically flexible or can be completed online.

Some companies also offer their own training programs for those re-entering the workforce. These are sometimes called “returnships,” in which a company trains you for a specific job you once had. IBM is a great example, offering a 12-week reentry program for technologists. 

2) Update your resume

If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, your resume is probably out of date. Maybe it has your last place of employment listed, but if that was 10-plus years ago, you’ll need to update it to make yourself more appealing as a potential employee. 

A few tips for really helping your resume to stand out include removing any old positions that aren’t relevant to the job(s) you’re applying for. You should also update your “skills” section and remove any dated phrases that aren’t often used today. If you haven’t been working for a while, you may want to highlight your soft skills, such as: 

  • Problem solver.
  • Strong communicator.
  • Good leadership skills.
  • Team management.
  • Organized.

Adding life skills is okay, too. You can even include things like coaching your child’s little league team, being the chair of the PTA or any other volunteering you have done. Those show organizational and leadership skills that employers often look for. 

Finally, do a once-over on how the resume actually looks. The formatting and design are both important. If the resume is difficult to read or understand, an employer might not give it the attention it deserves. 

Don’t forget your LinkedIn profile either. 87% of recruiters say they use LinkedIn to find or vet candidates, so you can’t afford not to have a professional presence there.

Need help writing your LinkedIn profile, and networking on the site? We guide you through it step by step here.

3) Brush up on your interview skills

An interview is just as important (if not more important) as a resume. It’s your first chance to sit down with a hiring manager and convince them they should take you on as an employee. 

One of the first questions an interviewer might ask is why you’re re-entering the workforce after such a long time. This can feel like a very personal question, and if you’re still grieving your divorce it might be hard to answer, so try to think of a professional, concise answer to questions like these ahead of time so you don’t stumble over them. 

It’s likely that your interviewer will ask a series of behavioral questions, like how you handle stress or what your goals are for the future. They’ll also want to know about your skills and experience.

Thinking of answers for some of the most common interview questions in advance can help you to feel more prepared. It’s okay to practice your answers, but try not to come across as too robotic or rehearsed in an interview setting.

Remember, you’re making a first impression, so it’s okay to let some of your natural personality shine through. 

You can read more practical job interview tips in these articles:

4) Don’t feel guilty

Divorce impacts the whole family, but it can be especially hard on children and even cause some behavioral issues at home and in the classroom, including consistent crying, withdrawal, screaming, refusing to do schoolwork, or not following directions.

Going back to work after a divorce can lead to feelings of guilt, especially if you have children at home who seem to be struggling. But with the average cost of raising a child totaling over $233,000 from birth to age 17, working through that guilt and getting back to work is actually what’s best for your family, so you can continue to provide for your kids.

Creating a stable environment and a daily routine each day as you go off to work can help your kids to get through this transition a bit easier. 

Don’t be afraid to talk to other parents who have been in similar situations. Not only can they be good networking connections, but they can give you some real-world advice on how they handled things. Talking with other divorced, working parents can also help to ease your anxiety and encourage you to keep going. 

5) Start your own business

Another option is not to return to the workplace at all, and instead start your own business from home.

Thanks to advancements in technology, about 5.2% of workers in the US worked completely from home in 2017, and that number is likely to go up as remote positions become more popular.

If you choose to start your own business, consider something you’re passionate about, whether it’s a cleaning business or selling your jewelry, paintings, or other art online. Whatever type of business you set up, just make sure you write a business plan.

It can be a risk to start your own business since there are no guarantees of income right away. But if you’re determined to spend more time with your kids or have a more flexible schedule, you can look at it as a way to revamp yourself and start the next chapter of your career (and life) post-divorce. 

Photo by Sincerely Media