Getting Back to Work

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Am I Good Enough?

After being out of the workforce, whether for a short time or for more than a decade, you're probably going to wonder if you're up to the task of going back.

Making the decision to go back to work -- and actually starting in an office -- will be nerve-wracking, but it doesn't have to be so stressful that you can't function, says Dr. Peter A. Wish, a psychologist based in Sarasota, Florida, and author of Don't Stop At Green Lights: Every Woman's Guide To Taking Charge of Her Life and Fulfilling her Dreams (Adams, 1998).

"Expect the first-day jitters," Wish says. "Expect to be nervous, and if it turns out that you aren't, it's a bonus."

Your feelings while getting back in the game may depend a lot on how long you've been out of the workforce. If you're not sure about how you'll stack up next to your coworkers, Wish recommends you consider some additional job training in your field.

Bailey says many women worry that spending a long time out of the workforce makes them less desirable to a future employer. But those fears are mostly unfounded, she says.

"These women do not realize that since they originally left the work world, the work world has gained a great appreciation for the multitasking abilities of women and, in particular, mothers," she says. "It's a skill perfected by mothers who have to juggle carpool, homework, household chores, and personal needs."

Bailey says there's also a perception that working mothers are more productive in the workforce because they have to focus on getting their job done in the office -- so they can leave on time to get to their job at home. She says the old saying, "Want to get something done? Give it to a busy person," is taken to heart by many employers.

Bailey says women who have been off the job for a long time should include volunteer positions and community work on their resumes. It shows you used your management skills or people skills while you were away, she says.

If you're not stressing about the work itself, but about the impact your return to work will have on your family, there are steps you can take to make the transition easier on everyone.

Continued on page 3:  Overcoming Guilt and Finding Balance


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