- RElaunch or Not: You Decide. Determining readiness is the first step. Use the Relaunch Readiness Quiz on www.iRelaunch.com or in Back on the Career Track for guidance.
- Learn Confidence. Get back in touch with classmates and colleagues who have a "frozen in time" view of you. TALK. The more informal conversations you have with non- judgmental contacts, the better you will sound and the more confident you will feel.
- Assess Your Career Options. Break down your old job(s) or volunteer experiences into component parts and focus on those components you liked the most and in which you did your best work. Then brainstorm about new opportunities that build on those components.
- Update your Professional and Job Search Skills. Read relevant journals, take continuing education classes and attend industry events. Develop an elevator story summarizing your expertise and the kind of opportunity you seek in a few key sentences. Remember to describe what kind of work you love to do rather than recite job titles. Research companies using Twitter, Facebook and Linked In. Comment on relevant blogs.
- Network and Market Yourself. Get a business card! After speaking to non-judgmental people informally (Step 2), branch out to those you know less well and engage them in a conversation about their work. These informal conversations function as interview rehearsals. Don't forget about people who were junior to you. Develop an online profile on LinkedIn.
- Channel Family Support. Discuss your interest in returning to work with your family early and often. Emphasize that your interest in returning to work is not a rejection of your time at home with them, but rather an opportunity to develop a part of yourself you have put on the "back burner" for a while. Include them in the process to help with research, rehearsing, etc.
- Handle the Job or Find Another One. Ask for early and frequent reviews because neither you nor your employer will be able to predict the rate of your career trajectory. Help your colleagues whenever possible, so they’ll reciprocate when you need them. And, remember, this is just your first foray back to the professional marketplace. If it doesn’t work out, you can always make a change.
Carol Fishman Cohen and Vivian Steir Rabin are the co-authors of Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work, and the co-founders of iRelaunch.com.