Niche Websites Help Moms Return to Work

By Toni Vranjes

February 2, 2010 1 Comment

You’ve decided to go back to work, and you want a helping hand as you begin the journey.

Some of you plan to jump back into rush-hour traffic and head to a full-time job. Others are seeking more flexibility, such as working nontraditional hours or from home. Either way, you want support and advice — and the good news is, there’s plenty out there.

Today, stay-at-home moms can turn to a variety of online resources to help them re-enter the workforce. These specialized websites can guide moms who want to relaunch their careers, whether they’re seeking a traditional job or a flexible work arrangement. Here are a few of the many noteworthy options out there.

iRelaunch

One resource is iRelaunch, a company that helps people jump-start their professional life after a career break.

It’s free to join. Members receive newsletters and discounts on various programs, including Career Relaunch Forums.

The forums, sponsored by employers, provide career tips and networking opportunities. During the events, employers and successful “relaunchers” share their advice and insights. This year, five conferences will be held at major universities – four in the United States, and one in London.

Carol Fishman Cohen

Carol Fishman Cohen

The company surveyed participants at previous forums, and it found that three-quarters of them were interested in conventional, full-time jobs. However, iRelaunch also can assist people who want flexible work, according to co-founder Carol Fishman Cohen.

Support is also available in a smaller setting. The company organizes Relaunch Circles, which are workshops focusing on either career exploration or job-search strategies. At the workshops, small groups of job seekers gather to receive tips from a trained career coach. Each Relaunch Circle consists of four weekly sessions.

Also, iRelaunch offers educational webinars, including a presentation on using the social-networking site LinkedIn for the job search.

The company’s programs are targeted at job seekers with professional experience in many different fields. They include accounting, consulting, consumer products, engineering, financial services, health, human resources, law, manufacturing, the military, and technology.

Women who have restarted their careers can serve as role models for stay-at-home moms, according to Cohen, a mother of four who lives in Newton, Mass. The company’s website and newsletters feature stories of successful relaunchers, and these examples can inspire job seekers, Cohen says. The stories also show employers how people can be reintegrated into the labor force after a career break, she notes.

“We think it’s very important to talk about people who have successfully returned to work and how they have done it,” says Cohen, who wrote “Back on the Career Track” along with Vivian Steir Rabin.

Cohen is one of the moms who took a career break and then successfully returned.

Her career path took a dramatic turn in 1990, while she was on maternity leave from investment bank Drexel Burnham Lambert. That’s when the firm collapsed and she found herself out of a job. For the next five years, she worked part-time. Then she spent six years out of the paid workforce entirely, caring for her kids at home and volunteering at their school.

During her time at home, Cohen had mixed emotions. While she cherished the time with her children, she also missed the challenges of the workforce.

She had lost her professional identity, and she wanted to regain it.

So, in 2001, Cohen restarted her finance career at an investment firm. Later, she became a career-reentry strategist. In 2007, Cohen and Rabin founded iRelaunch.

Over the past five years, Cohen says, the workplace has become more receptive to job seekers who are returning from career break. That’s partly because of increasing media attention. Also, a growing number of employers, universities and other groups have started programs to help people return to work.

For example, employers such as Goldman Sachs and Sara Lee Corp. have formal programs to recruit people who are re-entering the workforce.

Other employers, including Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, have informal recruitment programs. Morgan Stanley is hiring financial advisers nationwide, and relaunchers often are good candidates for these jobs because of their life experiences and maturity, according to Cohen.

“Morgan Stanley is looking at a range of people, and one pool is the relauncher pool, because it’s a more seasoned group,” she says.

Mom Corps

If you want the flexibility to take your kids to their doctor’s appointments and see their school plays, you may want to check out Mom Corps.

Jennifer Bainbridge

Jennifer Bainbridge

The company helps job seekers find contract and part-time work, as well as flexible full-time positions. About 40,000 people have registered as job candidates, according to Jennifer Bainbridge, who owns the Northern Virginia franchise of Mom Corps. Registration is free.

Candidates have access to a job board, workshops, and a resume-writing service. They also receive weekly “Hot Jobs” e-mail alerts. Mom Corps also offers tips for working parents in newsletters and blog posts.

“We’re really trying to build community,” Bainbridge says.

Employers can post jobs on the website and search for candidates that meet their needs. Mom Corps often assists companies with the recruiting process.

Mom Corps provides staffing to companies in a wide range of industries. Its clients have included Home Depot Inc., KPMG, General Electric Co., AOL and the Weather Channel.

The trends underway in the U.S. economy are keeping Mom Corps busy. As employers try to meet their business needs in the most cost-effective way, they’ve been adding many temporary and part-time workers to their payrolls.

Bainbridge was drawn to Mom Corps’ mission. She opened her franchise last year after spending 13 years in information technology.

“I got involved for the same reason that a lot of candidates do: the desire for more flexibility,” says Bainbridge, the mother of a young child.

“I was definitely looking for balance in my own life, and this is something that’s helping me achieve that.”

The Jobs and Moms Career Center

Nancy Collamer

Nancy Collamer

If you need flexibility, you also may want to visit The Jobs and Moms Career Center, run by Nancy Collamer of Old Greenwich, Conn.

You can read articles and blog entries, sign up for a job board, and find other useful resources.

Collamer also provides telephone coaching to help people figure out flexible work options, like freelancing, consulting or starting a business. Sometimes, her clients develop multiple income streams.

“There are a wide variety of solutions,” says Collamer, author of “The Back-to-Work Toolkit.”

“Most don’t end up in a traditional 9-to-5 job,” she adds.

She understands the challenges facing stay-at-home moms, because she’s been one. Collamer worked in human resources during the early part of her career, and later she ran her own employment agency. But 20 years ago, she gave up that business so she could stay home with her two young daughters.

During the career break, Collamer spent a lot of time thinking about her future direction, and she eventually decided to become a career coach. She received a master’s degree in career development and launched her private practice in 1996. Collamer’s work allows her to balance family and professional life, and she guides others who want that same balance.

Today, Collamer also shares her insights on alternative work options through the website My Lifestyle Career.

“My interest is in people finding good career solutions outside the corporate box,” she says.

The Mom Entrepreneur

Some of you dream of being your own boss and calling all the shots. If you want to start your own business, The Mom Entrepreneur can be a valuable source of information and support.

The company offers tips for building and growing a business. It also provides advice on balancing work and motherhood.

Basic membership is free. That allows you to search the member database, subscribe to a blog, and access certain other services.

More services are available if you pay a monthly or annual fee. For instance, you can gain unlimited access to webinars and podcasts, and you can network with other self-employed moms through an online support group. Paid membership also gives you discounts on advertising programs.

Traci Bisson

Traci Bisson

Some of the more popular industries for mom entrepreneurs are public relations and marketing, says company founder Traci Bisson, who lives in Barrington, N.H.

Another hot area is the “virtual assistant” industry, she adds. Mom-owned businesses supply virtual assistants – independent contractors who work remotely – to companies. Those assistants provide administrative support, like organizing events and returning phone calls.

Whatever industry you’re in, being a mom and an entrepreneur is a challenge. And Bisson, who has two sons, is familiar with the delicate balancing act.

In 2000, she started the public relations firm Bisson Barcelona. As a busy entrepreneur, she wanted to join a support group for moms running their own businesses, but she couldn’t find one. To fill the void, Bisson founded The Mom Entrepreneur in 2008.

On top of all those pursuits, she’s also a distributor for SendOutCards, an online greeting-card company.

The entrepreneurial life requires hard work, but it also gives her control over her schedule. Bisson and her sons love the flexibility.

“It’s been nice to go to their baseball games and their assemblies and volunteer at their schools,” she says. “I wouldn’t have been able to do that had I been working for a traditional company.”

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One Comments to “Niche Websites Help Moms Return to Work”
  1. Terry Starr says:

    I came upon this article today and couldn’t help but add http://www.MyWorkButterfly.com to the list. Born out of conversations had by many, we are a global social network to help return-to-work and working moms trying to manage it all.

    Now in 112 countries, we hear from moms regularly about the challenges they face and how we’ve changed their lives.

    You can take advantage of our FREE resources for moms (ie, Career Coach, Psychologist, national job board (over 10,000+), experts in Work/Life, Parenting, Child Care, Elder Care, Health, Fitness and more).

    We’re proud to be empowering moms and letting them know they are not alone. Join our community of like-minded women – including dozens and dozens of celebrity, hi-profile moms – and moms just like you and me.

    Membership is free!

    We’re here for you!
    Terry Starr
    Co-Founder

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