Vicki Salemi: Getting back into the career world | Lifestyle |

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Q: I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for years. I left a high-paying, high-profile job more than 15 years ago to raise my kids, and now that they’re older I’m ready to work again. I’m applying to jobs, but there’s a huge gap on my resume. No one’s calling me. What should I do?

A: First, congrats on your return to paid work. The reality is that, as a devoted mother, you’ve been working this entire time. There are several things you can do, as your skills are coveted by employers. If you don’t already have it, add an executive summary to the top of your resume. It’s a couple of sentences highlighting your skills and what you’re exceptional at doing. (Resume hack: You can copy and paste the paragraph into your cover letters, too.)

Think about all the skills you’ve mastered like a boss whether it’s multitasking, managing budgets (as in your household) and personalities, deadlines, etc. as well as volunteer opportunities you perhaps participated in. Every experience counts. Employers don’t only place value on skills and experiences in jobs similar to the ones they’re interviewing for — they rely on candidates’ abilities to demonstrate their transferable skills. Think about skills like customer service as well as soft skills like empathy.

Employers are more flexible than ever as a result of the Great Resignation. They are looking for candidates who are a fit for the organization, knowing they can train new hires in certain aspects, but culturally you can’t train someone on that. Either they’re a fit or they’re not.

Also, consider gaining new skills or a certification in alignment with your career goals. Having these skills and certificates on your resume can help you stand out from other candidates. Lastly, gaps are common. It seems more of an anomaly now if you didn’t have a gap than if you did. Employers realize this, too. Keep going! Keep tweaking your resume, networking, interviewing, transferring your valuable skills onto your resume and into talking points for potential employers as well as contacts. Leverage your network such as a moms’ group you may belong to — you never know where your next job lead may emerge from!

Q: What exactly is an informational interview? I keep hearing buzz about it, but is it a job interview? What information is there, really?

A: An informational interview is not a job interview; think of it as a conversation. It’s a networking chat, a chance for you to gain insight to a job, an industry, a company and/or a person and more. It’s essentially getting a cup of coffee or hopping on a Zoom call with someone for 30 minutes to learn more and potentially get your foot in the door with their organization.

Common questions you can ask would be about their department, where the company is headed, what aspects do they look for in a new hire when they interview, what skills/experiences should you focus on getting to be in a position to get hired there or break into the industry (if it’s new to you), what’s one thing they wish they knew about the job/company/industry but found out the hard way, what’s one thing they could change about it/they loathe about it they wish could improve, what is the pay for someone of your level and opportunity to grow, what are the job opportunities in terms of growth overall, can you forward your resume to anyone internally, do they know anyone you should also speak with, etc. … you get the idea. Also, it’s a good idea to ask more specific questions based on the research you’ve done to prepare.

Here’s an example. Recently I chatted with someone in editorial who moved to New York City because she wants to potentially work in filmmaking. I suggested that she connect with people in her network who know people in filmmaking from all aspects — the creatives, business aspect, production, etc. She has transferable skills, but I suggested that she ask specific questions about how to get her foot in the door, what area is most lucrative, and most professionally rewarding, as well as professional organizations’ events she may want to attend and eventually join. This way, she’ll gain and evaluate information and first-hand insight before leaping into a new field.

I’ll leave you with this quote as a reminder to gather information from multiple sources so it’s not one person’s view, but rather several. From “America’s greatest fighting Frenchman” the Marquis de Lafayette: “I read, I study, I examine, I listen, I reflect, and out of all this, I try to form an idea into which I can put as much common sense as I can.”

Send your questions to [email protected]. You may also visit and follow her on Twitter and Instagram vickisalemi.

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