There are many reasons parents are ready to return to the workforce. The challenge to return to work can be made even harder when you are a single parent. Whether it’s been one year or 20 years, it can be daunting to return to work following a break to care for children.
It can be an overwhelming process finding work with hours to suit your caring responsibilities, especially if you need to find a new career path with more flexibility.
These tips can provide you with a starting point on your journey to employment. Our experience working with parents is that it’s important to set small goals to achieve your overall goal.
Preparing yourself to return to work
Start your preparation for returning to work a few months in advance by:
- Checking in with yourself to look at your goals, including your personal growth and career goals;
- Looking at job advertisements to gain inspiration on the types of work you might like to do;
- Refining work-related skills, looking at what transferable skills you have recently gained, and undertaking training courses relevant to your preferred job role; and
- Meeting with friends or former work colleagues to talk about what has changed in the work environment since you left.
We hear from our clients that confidence and self-belief are two of the barriers to employment for single parents. Completing programs such as atWork Australia’s Positivum program supports our clients’ health and wellbeing, further preparing them for work.
Laura came to atWork Australia at a challenging time in her life; she was experiencing a family breakdown and adjusting to life as a single mother to two young children. When Laura met her Job Coach, Anne, she advised she had completed a Bachelor of Veterinary Nursing. However, she was looking to find work in a different industry. Laura shared with Anne that she was lacking confidence in her ability to find work as she has been out of the workplace for a significant amount of time while raising her children. To begin, Anne wanted to support Laura to rebuild her confidence and thought she would benefit from participating in atWork Australia’s Positivum program. Positivum is an in-house health and wellbeing coaching program, designed to prepare participants for the return to the workforce.
After completing the Positivum program, Laura decided to return to study to support her ambition to change industries and enrolled in a Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance; she is slowly working towards her goal of working in the allied health industry.
Looking for family friendly work
Work’s for everyone, including single parents, and it’s important to find the right employer for you. Most employers will consider flexible working arrangements, however, not all roles will be suitable for your personal needs and goals. Here are a few examples of how you can find family friendly work.
Look for flexible roles like Paramjeet
After receiving external community support from a local Child and Parents Centre, Paramjeet was referred as a participant to ParentsNext, for additional support with her employment and education goals.
Paramjeet suddenly became a single parent after the recent loss of her husband. The combination of English being her second language, as well as having minimal educational and employment history in Australia, she was concerned with how she would financially support her family moving forward.
Paramjeet worked with her Job Coach, Anne, and the local Gosnells team to build her skills, confidence, and goals for future employment. Within this session, the pair also discussed Paramjeet’s interests to determine what industry would best suit her, her skills and her family.
By recommendation, Paramjeet participated in the Best Version of Me course. This course supported her to gain the confidence and career guidance to discover her career goals.
It was after the completion of this course that Paramjeet had decided her long-term employment goal; to be an education assistant due to the flexible and school-based hours. Paramjeet and the Gosnells team are now actively working towards her completing this goal.
Create your own opportunities like Lorena
Single mother to two young children, Workforce Australia client, Lorena, had recently moved to the small town of Mount Barker in the Great Southern Wheatbelt of Western Australia.
She had no local support system to help with childcare and found limited work opportunities in the small town that suited school hours.
Lorena started working with her atWork Australia, Job Coach, Tipheny. They co-designed a plan to support Lorena to find suitable employment.
Lorena was finding it hard to manage her caring responsibilities, along with job searching and working on her own individual goals.
Tipheny referred her into the Local Jobs Foundations program, to work on her foundational skills. “Through the Local Jobs program, Lorena learnt time management skills which she says are very helpful in her day-to-day life,” said Tipheny.
From this program, she also realised she could study, run her household, and have part-time employment.
She shared with Tipheny her goal was to become self-employed. As an Indigenous woman, Lorena has a good connection to land, and has a business idea in the farming and agriculture industry.
Think outside the box like Tamyka
Mother, Tamyka (28), had been unemployed for five years while she cared for her children. Being a young mother, she had little work experience and needed flexible work to fit around her commitments.
She started working with her Job Coach, Mary, at the Workforce Australia Corrimal, NSW office. Tamyka initially spoke to Mary about her interest in working in hospitality, as she thought the flexible hours would suit her caring responsibilities. She was surprised when Mary said we could financially support her to gain her Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA). Not being able to afford to gain qualifications, licences and tickets had been something Tamyka had been concerned about when she started her job search. Now feeling more work-ready, Tamyka started to search for jobs she was interested in. She came across a role for a pet groomer. Tamyka has a love for animals, and the hours fit perfectly around her caring responsibilities. “The financial assistance, support and encouragement in my employment journey has made a big difference,” said Tamyka.
Job Searching Tips
There are many ways you can search for jobs. It’s good to set aside time in your day and have a routine in place for when and how you will look for jobs. Having a job search routine helps you stay motivated and focused on the end goal — getting yourself a great job with a great employer!
- Tailor your resume and write a cover letter for each job. Remember to include your transferable skills and your cover letter will set the first impression with a potential employer;
- Think about companies you would like to work for; check out their websites and job vacancy pages. You can then apply directly to them or express your interest in roles they often have available;
- Search online for currently advertised roles using online job boards such as seek.com.au;
- Access the hidden jobs market. To increase your chances of getting the right job with the right employer, you can network, self-market and approach businesses directly to express your interest. As 70% of the job market is hidden, if you can access the hidden job market, your chances of getting a job are dramatically increased;
- Practise your interview skills; and
- Get help from a Job Coach. Your Job Coach at atWork Australia is connected to many employers and can help send your résumé to job agencies, which multiplies your chances as job vacancies often go to job agencies before they even make it to be advertised online, in newspapers etc.
Get the support you need
atWork Australia will work with you to help set a tailored plan to assist in achieving your education and employment goals, whilst connecting you to other parents and local support services.
Finding a job can be challenging when you’ve been away from the workforce and the right support can make all the difference. We help by giving you a personalised service that caters to your needs and allows you to start preparing for future opportunities.
We support parents through all our programs, including ParentsNext, Workforce Australia and Disability Employment Services. Call us on 1300 080 856 to learn more today.