Returning to the Workforce after Caring for a Loved One

Caring for an aging parent or loved one is something many older adults can relate to. People are living longer, and often require some care or help from others. For those tasked with caring for family members, stepping out of the workforce is sometimes necessary.

If you or someone you know is trying to re-enter the workforce after caring for a loved one, you need to know the best steps for getting the job you want.

Returning to the workforce after caring for a family member

Often, aging adults have a strong desire to stay independent at home. This can sometimes leave their family caregivers faced with the choice between taking a break from their career to help out or moving them into a facility.

Many people make the tough choice to step out of the workforce to care for a loved one. More than one in six Americans working full or part-time help with the care of an elderly or disabled family member or friend.

Here are some quick facts about the impact on working caregivers.

69% of working family caregivers report having to rearrange their work schedule, decrease their hours, or take unpaid leave in order to meet their caregiving responsibilities.

Six out of 10 (61%) caregivers experience at least one change in employment due to caregiving, such as cutting back work hours, taking a leave of absence, and receiving a warning about performance or attendance.

Thirty-nine percent of family caregivers leave their job to have more time to care for a loved one.

At some point, those who take time away from their jobs to care for another person may want to return to the working world. When they are ready to return, there are often a lot of questions about how to re-enter the workforce and explain the gap in employment.

While job searching after caregiving comes with unique challenges, including updating your resume and managing financial/emotional stress, it is possible for many individuals to successfully step back into the workplace. With the right tools, you can find an opportunity that offers financial stability and a sense of purpose.

Tips for job searching after caring for a loved one

Are you stepping back into the workforce after caring for a family member? Here are five tips to help you find the job you want.

Be honest about the gap in employment

Most hiring managers can relate to your leave of absence. They are human too, and chances are they know someone who has been a caregiver or have cared for a loved one themselves.

Explaining that you were caring for a loved one will give the hiring manager perspective on why you were absent from the workforce. Instead of leaving them to guess why you were not working, let them know you were a full-time caregiver.

Don’t apologize for stepping out of the workforce

While you shouldn’t hide your reason for the gap in employment, you do not need to make it a big deal either. Instead, try to emphasize why you are qualified for the position you are applying for.

Address the absence by briefly explaining without too much emotion and let the employer know that you are prepared to come back to work. Demonstrate that you did what you needed to do for your loved one, and now you are ready to take on a new opportunity.

Highlight things you learned during your absence

Even though you were not working, you probably learned some things while you were caring for a loved one. For example, you may have developed communication skills, negotiating skills, and patience.

You might have read industry or leadership-related topics, or stayed involved in professional groups and LinkedIn. During the interview, mention positive learning experiences from your absence that are relevant to the opportunity.

Focus on your strengths and experiences

If you have a gap in employment history, it is important to shine the spotlight on your strengths. What makes you the best fit for the job?

Highlight achievements and successes in your resume, LinkedIn profile, and your interview. Make a case for your ability to do the job with concrete examples from your past.

Refresh or upgrade your skills

Many industries change over time. Have you been keeping up with the industry or job? Do you have all of the necessary, up-to-date certifications? While job searching, think about the skills and certifications necessary for the job you want and take some time to refresh your skills.

Explore new opportunities to upgrade your skills. Showing that you participate in continued learning increases your chance of landing the job. Look for opportunities through your local library, colleges and schools, and the Department of Job and Family Services.

If you are 55 years or older, consider participating in VANTAGE Workforce Solutions’ job training program. You are placed in a paid, hands-on training position in a real job environment. You also work on skill-building and have the opportunity to earn industry-recognized certifications.

Deborah’s Workforce Solutions story

Deborah enrolled in the VANTAGE Workforce Solutions program on July 1, 2019. She applied to the program after being out of the workforce for one year due to taking care of her ailing husband.

Following the passing of her husband, Deborah knew that getting back into the workforce would help her in coping with her loss. Unfortunately, due to her age, a gap in work history, and lack of job searching skills she was unable to secure employment.

Deborah spent most of her career in the administrative field and wanted to remain in it in any capacity. With that in mind, she was placed at El Barrio Workforce Development Center as an administrative assistant to the manager.

While training at El Barrio, Deborah updated her skills in office management, database management, community outreach, Microsoft Office applications, and general customer service.

Deborah’s training through VANTAGE Workforce Solutions directly led to her getting hired as an administrative assistant with the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Rehabilitation Center. 

Do you want to get involved with VANTAGE Workforce Solutions? Contact us today to find a career pathway that works for you, or call us at 1-800-554-5335.

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*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.

This workforce product was funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. The product was created by the recipient and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Department of Labor makes no guarantees, warranties, or assurances of any kind, express or implied, with respect to such information, including any information on linked sites and including, but not limited to, accuracy of the information or its completeness, timeliness, usefulness, adequacy, continued availability, or ownership. This product is copyrighted by the institution that created it.

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