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How to Get a Job After Being a Stay-At-Home Mom for 10 to 20 Years



Stay at home mom goes back to work after 20 years

Being a stay-at-home mom is one of the most rewarding jobs, but there is a time when many mothers feel as though it is time to go back to work. We want to help you get a job whether it’s been 10 or 20 years. Whether you are considering getting a new job because your family needs a little extra money or your children have flown the nest, view this phase of your life as an exciting opportunity to better you and your family.

As exciting as it may be, getting a job after being a stay-at-home mom for so long is very stressful and difficult. Many stay at home mothers feel overwhelmed by the process and sometimes even inadequate for the positions available.

Although the process will indeed be difficult, it will be worth it in the end, and you are completely capable of landing that job and being an asset to the workforce. If you approach reentering the workforce with the right skills, knowledge, and mentality, you can find your dream job and meet your personal and financial goals.

You have come to the right place if you want to know how to get a job after being a stay-at-home mom for 20 years. This article provides a comprehensive guide for applying for jobs as a current stay-at-home mom. Everything from boosting your resume to overcoming anxiety is covered below.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

How To Get A Job After Being A Stay-At-Home Mom For 20 Years At A Glance

In this guide, we’re going to fully walk you through how to get a job after being a stay-at-home mom for so long. Here are the steps we will cover in more detail below:

What To Do After Being A Stay-At-Home Mom

It is important to know why you want to get a job? Are you looking for extra money or a new pace of life? This will determine whether you pursue on jobs that are well-paid or offer you flexible schedule around your family.

It’s super important to get familiar with the current job field. A lot may have changed since you were last working. Researching this makes job applications and the transition to working again a lot easier!

Prepare To Enter The Job Force Again

Before entering the work force again, you will definitely need to update your resume to the current standard. A good resume should be a good base to showcase your skills and knowledge that you can tailor to each job application.

It is important to begin networking again. Social media is a very popular way to put yourself forward for a job these days, so it is definitely a good idea to refine these accounts for your future employer to view.

Apply For Jobs

Patience is key in applying for jobs due to its lengthy process. You will need to research job openings in your field of interest and ensure you tailor your base resume to each individual job you apply for.

applying for job

Make sure you showcase your relevant skills and knowledge for each job application to ensure you can prove why you’re the best for the job.

Ace The Interview

Make sure you prepare for common questions so you can seamlessly answer each question your interviewer will ask. This will allow you to come across a lot more confidently. Practice these questions with your family.

It’s always important to show interest in the job role and employer also. To do this, have a list of your own questions to show the employer that you are passionate and interested in working for them and their company.

job interview

Always turn up looking smart to your interview as this is often your first impression with the employer. Writing a thank-you note is also a great way to stand out and remind the employer of your interview.

Overcome Anxiety With Going Back To Work

It is completely normal to have anxiety about going back to work. It is important to know the signs and how to deal with it to ensure it doesn’t interfere with your return to the workforce.

It is also important to recognise where you cannot help yourself and may require extra help from a doctor.

We’re going to look into all of the above steps in more detail down below!

Step 1 – What To Do After Being A Stay-At-Home Mom

If you want to go back to work but do not know what you want to do, you aren’t alone. Many stay at home moms do not have the slightest idea about what type of jobs to pursue after staying at home for so long.

Although it is natural to feel this way at first, it is crucial to discover what you want to do. Only by sifting through this difficult topic can you learn how to get a job after being a stay-at-home mom for 20 years.

Why Do You Want To Get A Job

The very first question to ask yourself is why you want to get a job in the first place. This question may sound like a waste of time, but it is imperative to know why you want to get a job to score the perfect position for your needs and wants.

Piggy bank savings

Do you want to get a job because you need extra money or are you bored and restless in your life? If you want a job just because your family needs extra money, you will likely want a job that pays well but still offers you great off-time. In contrast, those who feel bored should get a challenging and interesting job based on their interests.

You probably won’t have to think too hard to answer this question. Nevertheless, think carefully to have the most accurate idea about why you want to go back to work.

Go Back To Your Roots

Although it may sound silly, one effective way to discover what you truly want to do with your life involves going back to your roots. Though your childhood wishes were not fully based on reality, certain dreams express your true self and give insights into your interests.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Although you obviously can’t be Superman, you can likely find hints at what you want to do with your future by looking at your past. For example, you might want to consider jobs at a bookstore or library if you wanted to be an author when you were a child.

Think back to high school and college if you can’t remember what you wanted to be as a child. Were there any particular classes that you loved? Did you have the opportunity to volunteer or participate in any extracurriculars that set you on fire? Asking yourself these sorts of questions can give you an idea of the topics that interest you.

Research, Research, Research

Although your roots may give you a good idea about general topics that interest you, you still might not know exactly what types of jobs are out there. After all, the job force has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. For this reason, it is imperative to research what sorts of jobs are available at the moment.

woman on laptop

One of the easiest ways to research jobs is to sign up for job posting sites. Use these sites to see what jobs are available in your area. Do not fill out your profile just yet since you do not know what you want to do. You might also want to contact temporary hiring agencies or counselors for further help in discovering what’s out there and what you might want to do.

Try New Things

Researching potential jobs online can only take you so far. It is important to try new things as well. Trying out new things is one of the best ways to see if you will enjoy a task in reality. You can try new things by volunteering or simply shadowing another worker.

Although it may sound a bit scary to ask a company if you can volunteer or shadow them, most are more than happy to agree. After all, they get free help out of the agreement!

Trying new things is more than just figuring out what you want to do. This time also gives you experiences to put on your resume. Even volunteer work counts as experience and can land you your dream job is described in the right way.

Step 2 – Prepare To Enter The Job Force Again

Applying for a job takes a lot of work. Especially if you have been a stay-at-home mom for a long time, there’s a lot of work you need to do before the work begins. This is the most important part of when a stay-at-home mom goes back to work in many ways.

Get Experiences For The Resume

Ensure that you have relevant experiences to put down on your resume. Even though being a stay-at-home mom is a full-time job, most companies will not recognize this as a valid position or proof of a reliable employee.


Luckily, volunteer positions, part-time roles, and even hobbies can count as experience if relevant to the job you are applying to. Volunteer positions at your local church, child’s school, and clubs around the city all count as experiences for your resume.

Update Contacts

Another thing you need to do to prep for job applications is update your contacts. Nearly every job you apply for will require you to offer references to your character and skills. For a stay-at-home mom of 10 years, it might be stressful to think of any potential references.

Even if you have not had any formal jobs during your time as a stay-at-home mom, you can still find references. Any individuals who oversaw your volunteer work count as a reference. Did you babysit or care for other people’s children often? Those parents can be references as well.

What’s most important about your references is not necessarily their position in the organization or area. What matters most is that the reference is unbiased but still offers a fantastic view of you and your working abilities. With a little bit of creativity, you should easily find references that are more than happy to be out for you.

shaking hands

After you reach out to the references, make sure to send a nice thank you note or treat to thank you for their cooperation. This thank you note will go a long way, especially if you do it before applying for the job. When you send a note after reaching out to the reference, it is more likely that they will say something nice about you and your character when they are asked about it.

Create Professional Social Media Accounts

Social media is a necessary evil in today’s society. On the one hand, social media is a major time drainer. On the other hand, it allows you to network and communicate with people you would not have met otherwise. Even in the business world today, social media is required.

If you do not have any social media accounts, we recommend creating an Instagram and Twitter. Businesses often use these two social media sites. During the interview process, recruiters may even look for social media accounts to put a name with the face.

professional social media

If you already have social media accounts, make sure they look professional. You should not have any vulgar language or pictures on the site.

In addition to the classic social media sites, you should sign up for professional social media accounts, such as LinkedIn and indeed. These social media platforms will connect you with professionals specifically and give you opportunities to see job positions in your area.

Create A Standard Resume

Now, it is time for the step that everyone hates when first applying for jobs: creating a standard resume. Although many things have changed over the last few decades, the importance of the resume has not, unfortunately.

The standard resume should have your most recent job experiences, skills, and education. We recommend creating a resume on your own if you are on a budget, but hiring a professional resume service can go a long way for stay-at-home mothers. These organizations will ensure your resume is professional and fit for the current hiring market.


Remember that this will not be the resume you send in with your application. Instead, this resume will be the basis for your application resumes, but every resume submitted should be tweaked to the job position you are applying for. We will cover tweaking your resume shortly.

Prepare Your Family

Going back to work is a big step, not just for you but for your entire family as well. It is important that you prep the entire family for your transition back to work so that no one feels left behind or stressed.

If you have a partner, talk with them about any concerns or hesitancies. Make sure that the conversation is open, inviting, and frank. Likewise, talk to any children in the house to make sure they realize they won’t have a stay-at-home mother anymore.

family walking

As a family, discuss any expectations, such as dinners, get-togethers, and weekly activities. That way, your family dynamics can go on as normal as possible after you land your new job.

Step 3 – Apply For Jobs

After doing all of that hard work of preparing yourself and your family for the job hunt, it is finally time to start applying for jobs. Be prepared for this phase to last a while and be difficult. Regardless, try to be as persistent and optimistic as possible.

Research Online

You will need to research thoroughly when it is time to apply for jobs. Remember those professional social media accounts and job listing sites you signed up for? Now is the time to use them.

If you did not update your profile on these sites already, do so now. You will want your professional account to match the job listings you are applying for. For example, your job listing should include skills related to childcare only if you are applying to jobs in education and childcare. If you apply to secretarial work positions, you should not reference childcare skills.

researching for jobs

As you are researching for positions online, make sure to write down the businesses and their contact information. This will allow you to find the most pertinent information when needed easily. We also recommend looking at the company’s website during this step to feel the dynamics and personality.

If you are particularly sensitive to the environment, you might want to stop by the business location in person. That way, you can see how the workers act throughout the regular business day. This option won’t be available for all positions, but it is worth considering.

Make sure that you have a list of multiple jobs you are interested in. Do not put all of your eggs in one basket. Instead, research many positions so that you have many options to choose from when the time comes.

Tailor Your Resume

Arguably, the most difficult part of applying for a job is tailoring your resume for every job position you apply for. Although this may seem overkill, it is required in today’s environment, especially if you apply online.

If you apply to jobs online, your resume and application may not even view your resume and application if you do not tailor your resume correctly. This is because most online platforms have a special algorithm that weeds out the “good” resumes from the “bad” ones.

tailor your resume

“What makes a resume bad?” you might ask. Simply put, a bad resume does not use target words and phrases used in the job description. For this reason, you want to tailor your resume for every job you apply to based on the job description provided. Try to use the same language, words, and phrases in your resume from the application for the best results.

You will especially want to change the skills section of your resume. If you are applying for a job that requires social skills and collaboration, make sure those skills are listed exactly on your resume. Of course, everything you list should be honest and based on your standard resume.

Fill Out Applications In-Person

It is difficult to have your application and resume read on online portals as we mentioned above. It is difficult for even the youngest and savviest applicants to interview. Many businesses are hesitant about hiring online since they have not met the applicant face to face.

Because of how difficult it can be to be hired from online applications, see if there are in-person application forms to fill out instead. With in-person applications, you get to show your initiative and good personality while filling out the application.

How you should fill out an application in person can be tricky. Use the online sites to learn about job openings. Then, research where the business is located and their office hours.

filling resume in person

During their office hours, bring your tailored resume and references to the office and politely ask if they have any jobs available. Some offices will have paper applications that you can fill out, while others do not.

In many ways, this experience will be an informal interview. While you inquire about physical applications, make sure that you are dressed to impress. Dress just as you would on your interview day to give your best impression.

If you want to go the extra mile, you may even want to prepare for an informal interview. The next step involves the interview. So, we won’t give too many tips about that just yet.

Even if your business does not make physical applications, ask if you can leave your resume, references, and contact information. Then, go home and fill out the application right away. In your application, be sure to mention somewhere that you stopped by and spoke with a worker. This will help you be remembered.

Be Patient

Although researching jobs and tailoring your resume is important, being patient is essential in the entire job hunt process. Currently, it is more difficult than ever to get jobs. Even for experienced, polite, and educated individuals, getting a new job is time-consuming and emotionally taxing.

woman on laptop

With that being said, it is important to be patient and optimistic throughout the entire process. Most likely, you will be rejected for a position at least once. Do not be too hard on yourself or immediately give up the search when this happens. Just view yourself as being one rejection closer to getting your dream job and say, “Thank you for the opportunity to apply.”

Step 4 – Ace The Interview

Applying for the job is only half the battle before you get the position. Virtually all jobs, no matter how small, require some form of an interview to gauge your personality and fit within the company.

Common Interview Questions

During the interview process, you will most likely be asked generic questions. Some of the most common interview questions include the following:

· Tell me about yourself.

· Why do you want this position?

· Why should we hire you?

· What do you bring to the company?

· What is your biggest weakness?


Sometimes, interviewers can ask off the wall questions to see how you respond at a moment’s notice. For example, many stories of high-pressure businesses ask questions like, “What is your favorite sandwich?” The point of this question is not to weed out those in favor of ham. Instead, it is to see how you respond when asked questions you didn’t prepare for.

Stay At Home Mom Interview Questions

As a stay-at-home mother, there are a couple of questions you can expect. The most commonly asked question for stay-at-home mothers is, “Why is there a large gap in your employment history?” It would help if you had an answer ready since it is almost guaranteed to be asked.

When the question is raised, be as frank as possible. Explain that you are a stay-at-home mother who prioritized family. Then, explain why you are entering back into the workforce now. Keep in mind that although you should be honest, you do not have to disclose any information you feel uncomfortable with.

To help seal the deal, go one step further when answering this question. Explain how your time as a stay-at-home mom has prepared you for this position. This is what can seal the deal for you getting your dream job. It is also why you must carefully consider this question before the interview.

stay at home mum skills

Think about how being a stay-at-home mom has enhanced your skills and capabilities as a worker. Even if the job at hand does not directly relate to childcare, you will more than likely be able to think of many ways that your time as a mother enhanced your capabilities as a worker.

By thinking about this question so heavily before your interview, not only do you answer the question at hand, but you sell your unique experiences and capabilities.

Have Your Questions To Ask

During the interview, you will be asked if you have your questions at the end. It is important not to go into this portion blindly. Not having any questions often shows the employer that you do not want the job. You can learn about some of the most important questions to ask here.

If you are afraid of forgetting your questions, feel free to write them down. The employer will not judge you any harsher by pulling out a piece of paper when allowed to ask questions. Simply explain that you wrote your questions down not to forget them by the end of the interview.

Practice Makes Perfect 

Planning out your answers to the interviewer’s question is not enough. You also need to practice for an interview to remember what you need to say and present yourself correctly when saying it.

interview practice

If you have a friend who has overseen a hiring process before, see if they would be willing to have a mock interview with you. You can also ask your partner to have a mock interview, even if they haven’t hired anyone themself.

During the mock interview, pretend as though it is the real interview so that you can get as much helpful feedback as possible. When you get feedback, do not take it personally. Instead, view it as a way to improve. Once you have the feedback, practice some more with the improvements in your mind.

Dress To Impress

Even if you are not a huge fan of dressing up or wearing makeup, you want to dress to impress for your interview. How you dress shows the employer what you think of yourself and what you think of the company. If you dress up in dirty clothes, it insinuates that you do not respect yourself or the company you are applying to.

Wear professional business clothes that are age-appropriate, comfortable, and clean. Also, make sure everything matches and looks business-appropriate. Your outfit does not need to be flashy or super stylish. As long as it is appropriate and clean, you look great.

dress smart

Do not forget about your face and hair as well. You do not have to look straight off the runway, but you should look clean and properly groomed. Ensure your hair is brushed or styled correctly, and wash your face. If you like makeup, do not wear so much that you look ready for a night out with the girl. Just wear enough that you feel confident and stylish.

Write A Thank You Note

After your interview, you want to thank the company and interviewer for showing how your skills and capabilities make you deserve the position. A thank you note is the perfect way to do this.

Instead of waiting until after the interview to write a thank you note, write your thank-you note ahead of time. On your way out of the building, drop the thank you note in the mailbox so that the company can read the thank you note the next day.

thank you

At the very least, bring the thank you note with you and fill it out in your car after the interview. With this method, you can personalize the thank you card to reference any jokes or comments made during the actual interview.

No matter what approach you take, dropping the thank you note in the mailbox the day of will truly set you apart from other applicants. It shows that you are initiative, grateful, and polite, all of which are the makings of a fantastic employee.

Step 5 – Anxiety About Going Back To Work After Being A Stay At Home Mom

Even though being a stay-at-home mom is one of the toughest jobs out there, you might feel anxious about heading off to work. If you feel this way, you are far from being the only one who does.

Many stay-at-home mothers feel extreme anxiety during their transition back to work. Although feeling anxious is normal, do not let it get in your head or discourage you from applying. Instead, deal with the feelings healthily to improve your quality of life.

Signs of Anxiety

If you’ve never experienced anxiety before, it might be difficult to know when you are experiencing severe anxiety for the first time. Some of the most common signs of anxiety include feelings of restlessness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, uncontrollable feelings of worry, and sleeping problems.


Here is a complete list of signs of anxiety:

  • Desire to avoid things that trigger your anxiety (like applying to jobs)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling nervous, restless, or tense
  • Feelings of impending doom or danger
  • Increased heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sleeping problems
  • Sweating
  • Trembling

If you experience any symptoms at the thought of applying for jobs, you are likely experiencing anxiety to some degree. Remember, some anxiety is normal, but it should not dictate your life or whether or not you pursue a job.

Tips for Overcoming Anxiety As A Stay At Home Mom Returning To Work

If you occasionally feel anxious, it’s important to keep that in check. If you don’t monitor your anxiety levels, it could easily impact your quality of life and the likelihood of getting your dream job.

stress 2

Whenever you feel anxious, keep these tips in mind:

Keep Things in Perspective

Even though applying for a job may feel like your entire life right now, it will not last forever. Even if it lasts a bit longer than expected, you will eventually get hired. For this reason, keep everything in perspective. Since not getting one job is not the end of the world, don’t act like it is.

Stay Positive

Part of keeping things in perspective is to stay positive. Admittedly, it is easy to get swept away by the worst ideas, but staying positive will help you in the long run. Keep your mind focused on what matters and all the great things in your life.

Deep Breathing

When extreme feelings of anxiety and nervousness come your way, try deep breathing. One of the best techniques for calming your anxiety through breath is inhaling for four seconds, holding your breath for five seconds, and exhaling for seven seconds. Deep breathing will slow your body down, thus calming the biological responses to anxiety.

breathing exercises

You might even want to add noise with your exhale if you are alone. Screaming or yelling may get some of your feelings out. Find some breathing techniques that work best for you.


If you don’t like questions swirling around in your head, get all your thoughts out on paper. Journaling allows you to free your mind of the stressors and worries associated with applying to jobs. You can try gratitude journaling if you need help staying positive or do a free write to get your feelings out.

Move Around

Exercising is fantastic not just for physical wellbeing but mental wellbeing. Although you may be tempted to sleep more when you feel anxious, exercising can help a lot. By getting your blood pumping and focusing on your exercise.


You shouldn’t select a high-intensity workout, though. Instead, select relaxing and gentle exercises, such as yoga. If you have a particular exercise that you find fun, such as Zumba or hiking, you can try that too.

Take The Day Off

Sometimes, all you need to do is take the day off and spend it with the ones you love most. Especially if you have been stressed the last couple of days, use the weekend to recoup by focusing on your friends and family.

Don’t just refrain from looking at applications and your email box during your day off. Instead, go away from home and do something active that takes your mind off your worries. Hiking, shopping, and fancy restaurants are all great ways that you can relax and truly take your mind off the job hunt.

When To See A Doctor

Being anxious when applying to jobs after being a stay-at-home mom for so long is a natural part of the process. However, severe anxiety can negatively impact your quality of life. Medical grade anxiety is especially damaging to health and requires medical intervention.

If you are experiencing symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, or phobia-related disorders, you should visit a doctor. Even though anxiety is occasionally normal, you might need medication or doctor intervention if anxiety impacts other parts of your life.


Remember that this medical-grade anxiety is often due to multiple factors in your life, not just the application process. For this reason, you should not sweep serious anxiety under the rug. Instead, visit your doctor to create a game plan for managing your anxiety levels.

Final Thoughts on Returning to Work After Being a Stay-At-Home Mom

Now that you have completely read our guide for applying for jobs and reentering the workplace after being a stay-at-home mom for 10 to 20 years, you are ready to get started. Keep all of our tips in mind so that you can successfully find and land that job you’ve been dreaming about.

If you don’t take anything else away from this article, remember to be confident in yourself and be patient. Even though this time in your life is stressful, it is also exciting and represents a new phase in life. Tackle it with confidence and contentment to make the most of this new you. Good luck!

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