How to Return to Work After a Long Career Break

Woman smiling in office

In this virtual session, the founders of Prepare to Launch U discuss a topic all too familiar to moms: career pauses. Learn more about the favorable trends for career re-launchers and the three simple steps to jumpstart your relaunch in the video below, 

Susan Rietano Davey and Kelly Biskupiak are co-founders and owners of Prepare To Launch U, a learning company that guides women through challenging work-life transitions. Women from all over the U.S. have successfully navigated maternity leave, working motherhood, career relaunches and career pivots with help from Prepare to Launch U courses, webinars, speaking engagements and coaching  


  1. What is a Career Gap?
  2. Favorable Trends 
  3. Bad and Better Advice
  4. What you Tell Yourself About Why You Can't Return to Work
  5. The Three Simple Steps to Jumpstart Your Re-Launch
    - Step One: Focus on You
    - Step Two: Fill the Gap
    - Step Three: Find Your Tribe
  6. Q&A

0:00 Hiba Abdillahi: Okay, I believe we are alive now. Hello, everyone. Welcome to our first Master Class, happy new year, and it's our first virtual event of the year. We have a lot of exciting free events later for you in 2021, and if you loved our Unity Hours, you are going to love our Master Class.

So let's jump right into that. For those of you who are new to The Mom Project, my name is Hiba Abdillahi, I am the Social Media Manager here. I have Katie Mack, who is my counterpart and our programs and partnerships manager who's womaning the YouTube chat right now, welcoming you all to our Master Class. We are a digital talent marketplace and a community where mom's, allies, dads, everyone can realize their full potential. 

Through our marketplace, we connect you with job opportunities with family-friendly companies that allow you to thrive at work and at home, and through our community... Love our community, we provide you with support, tools, connections, all that you need to move forward in your journey of job-seeking and working motherhood, if that is the path that you're on.

Today, our Master Class is all about returning to work after a long career break, and we brought back the experts, the experts, Susan and Kelley from Prepare To Launch U to provide you with career relaunch tips and answers to all your back-to-work questions. So I'm so excited for them to join us today, I'm going to kick it off to them, so we could get started with our Master Class. Hi ladies, welcome!

1:39 Susan Rietano Davey: What an honor to be the first people launching the Master Class.

Kelley Biskupiak: Yes, we are so thrilled to be back with this community. We have met so many of the women in The Mom Project community you are amazing, we love you, we are so excited to kick off 2021 with you. 

Susan Rietano Davey: That's right. So as Hiba said, we are Prepared To Launch U. I'm Susan, this is Kelley. Our company is basically a learning company that helps women with coursework, some private coaching, mostly group coaching, and all throughout the country, even have some international students now just manage the work-life transition so we have some products, some courses for women navigating their first maternity leave, other stop-gap courses on life, work balance and negotiating and all those things, and then our signature course is called our career relaunch course, and it's for women like you who are returning to work after a gap. So just a little bit about us, I’m Susan.

2:33 Kelley Biskupiak: Yes, and I'm Kelly, and we are both moms of four... I actually had a very interesting little addition in the last year. My oldest is 17, I have a 15-year-old, I have a 12-year-old, and now we have a hairy, who is one. He just turned one.

2:53 Susan Rietano Davey: And I have four also, two in college, two just out of college, very close in age, and I'm an empty nester, so a lot of you may be in my situation. So we have both opted out, we both took career breaks and we opted back in successfully.

Kelley Biskupiak: So we really understand this from the inside. And we started our own company when we were over 40 and over 50, so if age is something that has got you circling the drain, you can do that. 

Susan Rietano Davey: That’s right, we're old. Well, I’m old.

Kelley Biskupiak: We’ve got age on our side!

3:23 Susan Rietano Davey: And we have a combined 30 years of experience helping women navigate this transition from work to home, to back to work. And today we wanna help you. So what we're gonna do today is cover just a few things, we're really organizing the event in two halves, the first half is gonna be instructional, and we’ve baked in about 25 minutes of time just for you to ask your questions, so we're excited to answer some of those. We're gonna start by debunking some of the bad advice you’ve gotten, you may know it's bad advice, you may not know that yet but we’ll explain it. And we're gonna offer some better advice.

3:54 Kelley Biskupiak: I'm never gonna define those mindset traps that can keep you from moving forward. Those are those obstacles that can get in your way and hold you back from actually returning to work, so we’re gonna give you just a little bit of a highlight on that.

4:08 Susan Rietano Davey: We're gonna teach you three tips, we kind of call it the pre-launch to your relaunch, the first foundational tips to get you started, and some of you may be further along, you may have kind of overlooked these steps, we recommend that all of you who are taking this today, consider taking a deep dive into these three steps, even if it means kind of taking a step back, 'cause you need to have this time really to prepare for that re-launch.

4:30 Kelley Biskupiak: And because we work with women all over the Return to Work spectrum, people who are pivoting this also is gonna apply to you... It's very important that these foundational pieces are in place, and that's why we were gonna really dig into that today. 

Susan Rietano Davey: And especially one of the questions that we got is, What is the biggest obstacle of returning to work? I think the biggest obstacle is a lack of preparedness. A lot of the obstacles are things that you create for yourself. And…

Kelley Biskupiak: Yeah, and then we’ll have time to answer your questions about getting back into work, so we will give plenty of air time for your questions.

What is a Career Gap?

5:06 Susan Rietano Davey: So what is a career gap? It's extended time off from the paid workforce. So it's typically for some type of caregiving role, but we look at it as three to 30 years. We don't look at someone who's taken an extended maternity leave for a year as really having a career gap. That's not something that requires an explanation, but from three to 30 years, so I imagine most of you fall into that.

5:26 Kelley Biskupiak: Right, and we've worked with women in all…

Susan Rietano Davey: Both ends of that range.

5:29 Kelley Biskupiak: Yeah, it's most common among women with caregiving responsibilities, and this is not just child care, again this could be elder care, this could be a sixth spouse that you've taken time away but it is for you as caregivers. 

5:45 Susan Rietano Davey: Couple of interesting statistics to know and one is that 43% of women... This was a study done between the and I believe it's McKinsey, they do a woman in work study every year. 43% of women in the professional workplace will take or have taken a career break to care for family of three years or more. And that number is swelling right now during the covid pandemic, and there are kind of two lanes there, there's the one where the woman, she's like, This isn't gonna work, something's gotta give and she's leaving work rather reluctantly. 

And then there's the other who has... Well, then there’s the third, actually, the one who's been laid off or furloughed, and then the third is the woman who said, You know what, I've had this opportunity to kind of look at my life, things are... Everything's really clear, and I wanna make this change. I just wanted this time at home, so there's the reluctant, it's kind of forced by the situation, others who are making the choice. The most important statistic is this one.

6:38 Kelley Biskupiak: Yeah, 90% of them plan to return…

Susan Rietano Davey: Or do return successfully. 

Kelley Biskupiak: Right, do return to work. And so I think in giving you this, what we really want you all to hear is that you are not alone, you are not alone in making this journey and starting your career transition, whatever that might be for you today, right now. 

Susan Rietano Davey: Yeah, right, and your situations may be unique, but your story is very common and this particular step is quite common. 

Kelley Biskupiak: You're not alone, because Katie was telling us before we got on here, there's like 3,000 thousand people that RSVP’d. 

Susan Rietano Davey: That signed up for this.

Favorable Trends for Re-Launchers

7:11 Kelley Biskupiak: So just know that with those numbers, you are not alone. 

Susan Rietano Davey: Exactly. Alright, so let's just talk about a few favorable trends for you re-launchers, it's always good to start with something really positive. So there's a new complexion to the workforce, and many of you have probably heard the term the multigenerational workforce. It basically means that there are five generations now working together at one time. That's the first time in history, it's only been that case for about five years. So I'm a good example, my mom is 82 and…

Kelley Biskupiak: I love this! 

Susan Rietano Davey: and she’s a practicing psychologist, and my two older boys...I have three boys and a girl. The two older boys are now professionals in the workplace with their grandmother... That's not something that most of us can say. Right? So it's contributed too by the fact that we're living longer and that paradigm of stopping work at 62 and retiring, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you're living a healthy life to 82 and often even 92.

8:05 Kelley Biskupiak: Yeah, and I think people really derive such a sense of purpose and give back from the work that they're doing, especially someone like your mother to give that up would be like giving up the part of herself.

8:16 Susan Rietano Davey: Oh, and my mom started this career as a psychologist at 55.

Kelley Biskupiak: She was a returner. 

Susan Rietano Davey: Yeah, she was. So there's also an exponential growth in women-owned businesses, so a lot of people like Kelley and me, we got to that point where we were ready to go back and we realized that we really wanted to be back on our own terms, and so I don't have a statistic off the top of my head, and I didn't have it when we wrote this slide, but I do know that the average age of these women entrepreneurs is 50...slightly over 50.

8:43 Kelley Biskupiak: Yeah, which is really exciting. And I think what's awesome about it too, is that you have so much life experience, and you're bringing that to the table, and it is so valuable, so needed and so necessary, especially at this place and space that our world is in.

Susan Rietano Davey: So true.

Kelley Biskupiak: The other piece is, that Me Too movement, there are a lot of companies and corporations that are coming at hiring women and bringing gender equity to the workplace, so that is playing a role in coloring what's happening now.

Susan Rietano Davey: Right, increasing opportunities. 

Kelley Biskupiak: And then the covid-19, here's a bonus of the covid-19... is flexible, and I have to say, so this is the queen of flexible work, so all of you that know have been in a flexible work opportunity, she was probably on the beginning ends of writing the policy for that.

Susan Rietano Davey: That’s my thing.

9:36 Kelley Biskupiak: Her company before we started Prepared to Launch U had done this work for years, and I love how you say that there would be companies that are like…

Susan Rietano Davey: No, there was always the guy in the front row, usually the guy kind of glazed over like, I am never doing this, if I can't see my employees sitting at a desk working in front of me, they can't be working. And now their hands have been forced because we are all working from home.

Kelley Biskupiak: Oh, I find it hilarious. My husband, never a day, has he worked from home in the work that he does. And he’s been home since March! He’s eating a sandwich right now, right next door, with his blue light glasses on.

10:12 Susan Rietano Davey: And then of course, there's a commitment, there's a growing commitment in industry leaders to commit to hiring working moms who are returning to work. And The Mom Project is driving the bus on that. And you can see on a regular basis, new names being added to their list of perfect companies. So all of these trends make now a really good time to be looking to relaunch your careers. 

Bad and Better Advice 

10:36 Susan Rietano Davey: So let's talk about that advice we mentioned, some of this might be familiar to you. Some bad advice and some better advice. So the first piece is you've gotta hide the fact that you stayed home to raise your kids, and so you do that by creating a functional resume or a skills-based resume that shows all the things that you've done, but doesn't really connect it with an actual job. 

So I as the hiring manager get this resume, I gotta tell you what I do with it. I look at it, I can't find things easily, and I think two things: Number one, it's like I think this is too much work, and number two is she's trying to hide something. The advice we give is look at your gap year as an asset, 'cause they are an asset, if they're presented the right way. And so what you want to do and through the process of a little bit of what we're doing today, and certainly in the processes of our larger courses, we will teach you how to reclaim those years. To look at them critically and find the valuable, what we call workplace currency to pitch in a compelling and in a comprehensible way that within that first six to eight seconds that I see your resume I can see it.

11:37 Kelley Biskupiak: Yes, and that gap. There is so much value in the gap, and when you can speak to the value of that gap, it is so empowering. It’s so empowering. 

11:47 Susan Rietano Davey: The next one is you gotta stick with what you once did, 'cause that's your lane, and you're not gonna pivot now because that's way too much, and actually what we would argue is that now might be a really good time to pivot because you're looking at yourself, especially for those who have taken maybe a 10, 15 or 20 or even 25 years. Yeah, you're a different person. So many of us started out in careers 'cause somebody said...

0:12:07.9 S1: Kelley Biskupiak: Well one of our very first students in our pilot, remember? She was an accountant. And, it was because that was a safe job that her parents…

Susan Rietano Davey: Her dad said, you're good with numbers, you should be an accountant, and she's been out for probably 22 years, and a lot of the work that she's done as a volunteer has been more in community leadership on more of the employment side of things, she's a Board of Ed president, does a lot of hiring, a lot of employee relations, labor negotiations. So she's pivoting. So don't listen to the advice. 

But do take some time to go out and explore and assess what opportunities might exist for you now. Instead of just…

Kelley Biskupiak: Yeah, we’re gonna talk about that. 

Susan Rietano Davey: The third one is, you gotta go back to school now and get another degree. 

Kelley Biskupiak: Okay

Susan Rietano Davey: I mean that’s advice in a vacuum, right? You don't go back to school without a very specific target in mind, and having really vetted that decision because it's a costly decision. It's also a place that’s easy to hide. So we see a lot of women who say, I'm ready to go back to school, I’m gonna get another masters because that'll keep me busy for two or three years, and it'll make me feel like I'm doing something towards getting a job but you’re really not...So we want you instead to consider the context, what do I want to do, that's the pre-step and then look at what options are out there.

13:19 Susan Rietano Davey: For maybe it's just some skill remediation, maybe there's just a software program that would really help accelerate your career re-entry. 

Kelley Biskupiak: Yeah, and there are things... LinkedIn Learning has a huge library of skilling up courses, The Mom Project actually has opportunities that you can help skill yourself up during this time. And we say to our students all the time, you have to vet if you are going... If you are really a woman who is thinking that she's going to make the investment to go back to school, you better really, really vet that out, because it is expensive.

13:57 Susan Rietano Davey: And it may not be necessary... that's the key. And then lastly, you know what, apply for entry level jobs, take it safe, or just take the first thing that comes your way because you are so lucky that anybody's considering hiring you. 

Kelley Biskupiak: Our favorite thing, and this actually just happened... 

Susan Rietano Davey: It happened last week.

Kelley Biskupiak: It happened with one of our students from our fall cohort... is for our women to turn a job down that's not enough for me.

14:22 Susan Rietano Davey: In her case, it was just like she got so far and they loved her, they globbed right onto her, and then she read... She's got a little feeling about their culture and she's like, You know what, this isn't the place for me.

14:33 Kelley Biskupiak: Yeah, and a big piece of that is knowing who you are, which we're gonna get into…

Susan Rietano Davey: Yeah that and her confidence. So what we say instead: Be bold, aim high and always ask for more. There's always more on the table. 

What You Tell Yourself About Why You Can’t Return to Work 


14:44 Susan Rietano Davey: So here are some things that you might say to yourself about why you can't return to work, here's the kind of the flip side of those favorable things.

Kelley Biskupiak: Right, so this has probably happened to you. You sit down, you're gonna start doing your job search, or you're gonna start to think about returning to work, and a voice will pop up in your head and say, you know what? I’ve been out too long, I'm irrelevant. Or the voice might say, I can't compete with a tech-savvy millennial. 

Susan Rietano Davey: Hear that one a lot.

Kelley Biskupiak: Or, it could be, I have too much family baggage, we hear this from our women who are transitioning through divorce all the time, I have so much family baggage. This is not something that I can do right now. I'm too old. We hear this one so often.

Susan Rietano Davey: Actually our last event for Mom Project was one on ageism, and that also brought in about 3,000 women.

15:34 Kelley Biskupiak: How can I go back to work when so many people count on me? It's just impossible. So that voice inside your head that's telling you, there's no room for this... This is impossible. 

Susan Rietano Davey: One of my favorite lessons in our course is one that Kelly teaches on work-life synergy, and I really thought that when we met, when we first started working on this together, that I really felt like I had a good synergy. 'cause I got back to work very part-time, but I'd still been working since my kids were little, but I realized I wasn't imbalanced when I took that piece of the course and was able to create a better space so that I was also taking care of myself. 

Kelley Biskupiak: Absolutely, right. Too much has changed since I've left. 

Susan Rietano Davey: Which could be true. 

Kelley Biskupiak: Yeah. I think there’s truth in every single one of these.

Susan Rietano Davey: But it’s not...not necessarily too much. Just some stuff.

Kelley Biskupiak: Yeah, so you may be thinking some of these things, but it doesn't mean that the hiring manager or recruiter, Susan...

Susan Rietano Davey: Thinks that. But the other thing is that sometimes if you’re thinking it, it makes me... the hiring manager, think it, right?

16:28 Susan Rietano Davey: So this mindset is really important. You've gotta get your mindset in good stead, so that when you're meeting with me, I'm not sensing that you yourself have your doubts.

Kelley Biskupiak: Yeah, and so the important thing for you to know and take away from this mindset piece is number one, know that you're talking to yourself like that the awareness that these are things that I'm actually saying to myself, and they are road blocks. Once you have awareness, you can start to navigate around it, you can say, Okay, yes, is there some truth to the fact that I have some family baggage? Yeah, there's some truth to that, but am I going to allow it? 

You always have the choice to allow it to run you, or you can navigate around it and do something else, or you can... For example, I can't compete because there's all these tech savvy millennials, well, could you get yourself educated in some way, is there a way you could skill yourself up so you feel more confident to get yourself back out there, so that mindset you need to be aware of it... And you need to be aware of it is propelling you forward, or if it's holding you back, the way you talk to yourself matters. And it matters a lot.

17:36 Susan Rietano Davey: That is for sure. So one of the things that we think about often is when we're ready, and we see this a lot with our students, they're ready to get back to work and they just wanna do it tomorrow. I think it's important to set some... Just some expectations here. The typical professional job search takes from three to nine months. 

And there are a lot of variables in there, but if we just take the mid-point six months, if you don't... If you expect it to happen right away, you're setting yourself up not only for failure, but for disappointment and those things that can kind of feed that negative narrative, so it's a time to invest some time in yourself, it's a very important piece. And that's what we kind of call it the pre-launch relaunch. 

Kelley Biskupiak: Yes.

The 3 Simple Steps to Jumpstart Your Re-Launch

18:13 Susan Rietano Davey: So we have three steps that we think are the first foundational steps, and we've seen it play out with our students, and they're simple, the first one is to focus on you, the second is to fill those career gaps in a meaningful way, and the third is to find your support group or tribe.

18:27 Susan Rietano Davey: So Kelly's gonna take us through the first step which is that focus on you.

Step One: Focus on You

18:31 Kelley Biskupiak: Right, so here's what happens, and we have worked with thousands of women now all over the world, and what we have come to learn is that women do this really dangerous thing, we put ourselves on the back burner in service of everyone around us and we stop being the visionaries of our own lives, and that is something that you need to get a hold of and you... Absolutely, if you are doing a return to work, need to spend the very first step on focusing on you. Focusing on yourself, who are you now? 

You need to know that, you need to know who are you now? Your life, your experiences have shaped you and change you, and so getting a hold of Who am I now is a really important first step, and so it's not just... Okay...I love it when people say, Figure out who you are. Well, yeah, really, in all my busy life, I have lots of time to sit around and think about who I am…

Susan Rietano Davey: It feels very indulgent, but it's not.

Kelley Biskupiak: It’s not, but I'm also gonna tell you, I'm gonna give you some questions you can ask yourself to start to define who you are now, so you have some driving factors that will help you gather that data about who you are now. So number one is to start with your values, what matters most to you? What is something that is so important to you? So for example, at this juncture in your life, is connection important to you? Is flexibility and work important to you? Is teamwork important to you? Just think about what is it that matters most to me now in my life, what do I want most in my life? And your values become your compass as you navigate your way through this process, so defining them upfront is critical. It's so important, and it's actually a great way to start to build back your confidence.

20:21 Kelley Biskupiak: Because when you understand who you are and what matters most to you, then everything else kind of comes back to that. So the next thing to do is to ask yourself what are my strengths? Now, we are not always the best at assessing our strengths, people don't like to talk about themselves.

Susan Rietano Davey: And also if we’re coming back to work. Sometimes just a big lack of confidence, so we don't really feel like we have any meaningful strengths.

Kelley Biskupiak: Right, so we need to think about it in this context. What do people call on me for? If people are asking you to do something for them, what are they asking you to do? Because that is a strength that you possess, but a great way to answer this question is to ask people around you. You can ask somebody that maybe you've done volunteer opportunities with, maybe old colleagues, you can also ask the people in your life that really you are extremely close to to just weigh in and say, you... So if I'm gonna find my strengths, what would they be? 

And so that's another way to get a better understanding if we are... And then the next thing to look at is your skills, and that can go all the way back to your college years, that skill base that you gained, in that it could come from work that you have done, it could come from trainings that you were a part of, it could come from volunteer opportunities where you've had to learn new skills through those opportunities, but you wanna define them and you wanna actually, I just wanna say...I should’ve actually said this up front that you are gonna wanna sit down and do this but we are actually giving you a freebie...

21:50 Susan Rietano Davey: We have a ‘focus on you’ it’s about a seven-page PDF that will take you through some of these questions and come at it from different angles, so if you're a note-taker, go ahead and take notes, but Katie will be getting back to you with an email with a link to that PDF. And so if you wanna just kinda sit here and receive the instruction, just know that you'll have a way to capture this information.

22:09 Kelley Biskupiak: Right, and this is gonna be recorded, so if you wanna come back and watch and it too you can. And then the last thing to really look at are your interests. We can understand so much about who we are based on our interests, so taking a good look at what are the things that I really enjoy doing and what is it about that thing that I really enjoy doing?

Susan Rietano Davey: So Julia’s a good example, Julia who I mentioned earlier, was one of our pilot students, and she had been a CPA and she'd been at a Big Four accounting firm, she was very successful. She was home for 20 years, and in that volunteer role at the Board of Ed, she really gravitated not toward the Treasury, not toward the finance, not to the accounting, but to that Human Resources people piece, so she knew that she had a different interest level. 

The other thing is that those interests, those hobby, the more social interests and the things that can feed you too, because the process of getting a job, as Kelly said earlier, is a job and it can be defeating at times, so it's important to also just take a look at what the things that I do, that I enjoy doing that will fill me up when I'm feeling depleted. 

Kelley Biskupiak: Yes, absolutely. 

Susan Rietano Davey: So they have value there too.

23:08 Kelley Biskupiak: And so another great question to ask yourself is, what is making you think about a return to work right now? Like for example, what motivated you to sign up for this Master Class today, what is behind you right now pushing you forward at this juncture in your life? Do you want a challenge? Maybe need some money and maybe you need benefits, maybe that's an important factor, and maybe you just need some social connections.

Susan Rietano Davey: Social connection isn’t just like your kids’ friends’ moms. Your own real connections.

23:39 Kelley Biskupiak: Your own real connections. And then don't assume you must return to where you were, what fields or industries or careers are you curious about now? And so Susan touched on this a little bit earlier, that you can take the opportunity now, and it's really important that you do that because it helps you develop that understanding and the clarity that you want to determine what do I want to do? What direction do I want to go in? 

And so we teach this concept of explore and assess, and I'll just give a quick example of how that works, so you might actually define maybe three areas that you are interested in. So for me, it was education. I started my career in education, so did I wanna go back into education? That would be one. Then I really liked the idea of working with people and that human to human contact and hearing and listening to people...

So maybe I wanted to be a therapist. That's something that I might want to explore. And then there was this sort of out there thing at the time of this life coaching, is that what...I've heard about it... What is it really...

24:48 Kelley Biskupiak: I wasn't 100% sure, so I was gonna explore that. And so I went back so the explorer piece of it, is to go back into education, meet with colleagues, talk with people that I knew that were still working in there and really hear about what was happening in education and was there something in that that I wanted to do... 

And for me, actually, at first it was true, it became an educational role, so I built a whole business out of it, so I explored it and then I assessed and said, Is this a fit for me in who I am now and what my needs and priorities are right now? 

Susan Rietano Davey: And you also explored it quite broadly, and the tools are available to you so readily, online searches, you can get so much information on blog posts, podcasts, one-on-one, reaching out to people in your community or on LinkedIn to say, Gee, I’d like to learn more about your job. For me, I started out in big tech and I had every intention of going back to work, I worked for 10 years. At 31 years old, I had my first baby, and I was like, Okay, I'll just have this baby and get a nanny and go back to work. And he was born, I was like, Woah, how am I gonna do that? It was extremely…

Kelley Biskupiak: And there was no flexibility…

Susan Rietano Davey:  There was no flexibility.

Kelley Biskupiak: Hence why this was invented.

Susan Rietano Davey: Which is what happened, I really thought, Okay, can I go back in to tech consulting, can I go back full time, I was trying to figure things out, but what I realized was that my interest really was in making sure that other women had more options after me that the woman who came 10 years after me like killing it, had options, and that the companies themselves weren’t losing great talent just because there were no options, so I explored and assessed, I talked to lots of different people and for Kelley and me both, that is how we both ended up landing as entrepreneurs.

26:26 Kelley Biskupiak: Yeah, and that is when we talk about... So for example, the bad advice of: Just go back to school. That is where we vet... So when I was exploring and assessing, of becoming a therapist, I really dove into, what are the programs that are out there? How long is it going to take me? How much is it going to cost? Am I gonna qualify for financial aid? 

I went down the rabbit hole and got myself educated around all of it, and then assessed, Is this a fit for my life, is this a fit for who I am now, is it a fit for my values, is it aligned with my strengths? Do I have some skills that play a part here? So that is...When we talk about exploring and assessing, you do the exploration to get some education for yourself and some understanding, and then you assess it again against who you are now and what your motivations are now. 

Susan Rietano Davey: And this is the investment that you make so that you don't just take that first job that pops up or go back to something that maybe you didn't find satisfying to begin with.

Kelley Biskupiak: Or do this... Pull out your resume, think that you hire somebody to re-up your resume, and you don't even know what direction you really wanna go in it, you don't know what you really want to do, and you ultimately spend an investment...

27:42 Susan Rietano Davey: We actually got a few resume questions on this. I think the best advice on resume is if you don't know specifically who you're talking to, if you don't know who you're trying to sell, then your resume could be beautifully executed, graphically brilliant, and it still will not be effective. 

Kelley Biskupiak: Right, this foundation is important. 

28:01 Susan Rietano Davey: So taking this time is really important...So you may be wondering, Okay, great, this sounds all lovely, ladies, but how the heck am I gonna find any time to focus on myself when I've got four kids. 

Kelley Biskupiak: Right. You’re gonna clear the decks, here’s what you’re gonna do. You're gonna start to do a clean out of your life and you are going to let go of some things. And the biggest obstacle here is you have to give yourself permission to do that, you may be letting go of things that you have done for years. And that is a really hard thing to do. I'm not trying to just make it seem like this is easy, it is hard to do that, you may be letting go of things at one time that really you loved.

28:36 Susan Rietano Davey: Or obligations that you've taken on, you have a hard time saying No, we’ve both struggled with that.

28:41 Kelley Biskupiak: Yeah, and you also wanna be selective and strategic about what you keep you wanna say a little something about that?

28:47 Susan Rietano Davey: Yeah, we see this a lot, and I think you and I both fell into that trap too kind of... We're born leaders, so we were volunteering for everything. If you're at this point now where you're planning to return to work and you know that you want to get into marketing, and maybe you have a background that's peripherally related to marketing, but you developed some skills during your opt-out years. 

Well, then stick with those volunteer roles that are marketing related, if you're editing the church newsletter, keep going with that, if you're running the social media pages for the club soccer team, go ahead and do that, but if you're running the book fair or doing recess duty...I mean these are areas where you could say, You know what, I'm gonna pull myself away from that, start being... And this is not a bad word, start being selfish about what's going to serve you, so you can go into a direction that you wanna go...

29:31 Kelley Biskupiak: Yes, yeah, and this is a big one, and we see this often times when students will show up to our course or will want to enroll in our course, that they haven't created a time in their schedule and they haven't created space to be successful. So you need to set up in your calendar time going back to work and returning to work is a job, and it should be viewed that way, you really should give it that kind of a structure and tenacity that it takes to make it happen. So you wanna look at your calendar, you wanna say, Okay, I'm a block off these times, and if the phone rings and somebody's asking you to go pick up their dry cleaning or go do X, Y or Z…

Susan Rietano Davey: You’re not free. 

Kelley Biskupiak: You can’t even answer the phone. You have to find and set that boundary for yourself that my time is valuable and it's going to be focused on this because I have a bigger, greater goal for myself. And then number two is setting up the space, the actual space, and you know what, make the space inspire you.

30:31 Susan Rietano Davey: And it doesn't have to be a fancy office... It can be... My office is actually an old closet. I live in an old home and we just kind of made it into an office years ago and it worked. One of my kids has co-opted a part of the dining room table, my husband has co-opted my baby grand piano. He loves it. He’s got a stand-up desk there, and the sad thing is, I don’t think he’s ever gonna go back to work. But finding that space that’s comfortable. 

Kelley Biskupiak: It is comfortable. And more than comfortable, it's inspiring. You get in there and you say to yourself, Okay, here is a place where possibility lies, and I am lit up by it. So put... Put the inspirational signs around, light a candle. Do whatever it is that's going to drive you in some way to remember, this is important to me and I feel good here and I want to be... I'm going after something. 

Step 2: Fill The Gaps

31:19 Susan Rietano Davey: Yeah and I wanna... I wanna be here. So that's the first tip. The second step or tip is to fill the gaps. This is the one that's probably you’re finding most daunting, we've got a number of questions on this.

31:31 Kelley Biskupiak: And I wanna say, this is the place where your confidence can really be built.

31:36 Susan Rietano Davey: And actually, it tanks here, because you’re thinking I haven’t done anything and then it just explodes.

Kelley Biskupiak: Right, we’ve seen this happen many, many times.

Susan Rietano Davey: Too many times. So, in short, the things that you've done during those opt-out years during that career break matters. Not everything you've done matters, but a lot of what you've done matters. And so we're gonna give you an opportunity to look at those things that you've done and to assign some value to them, because as a hiring manager, those things are valuable to me.

32:03 Kelley Biskupiak: And we actually, so our second freebie that we're giving away to all of you today in the follow-up email, is called the Gap Buster Guide, that doc... It's awesome, it is so awesome. And it is a place for you to really capture all of this, but it also gives you the guiding questions you need to be asking yourself, because you're gonna have to do a little bit of going back and thinking about what did I do, and then assessing what the skillset is... So this brings you all through that. So you're gonna wanna look for that. It's called the Gap Buster Guide.

32:38 Susan Rietano Davey: It'll be right in that email. And the other thing I believe when I designed that, I also kind of looked at, okay, the woman who's doing this right now, but also the woman who might be doing this in the future, what things can I do right now? 'cause a lot of women will get through this process and say, You know what, I think now is not the time.

As they do the analysis, I think I'm gonna wait two years, I'm gonna wait til my youngest is in middle school, driving or whatever it is. But then you can take those two years and make them that much more meaty for your return later. But if you look at the things that you've done as a volunteer, the projects that you've done in your community or in your home, some of the caregiving responsibilities you've taken and any kind of gig or a day here, a day there, all...can matter quite a bit. 

33:18 Susan Rietano Davey: So we put together four examples. 

Kelley Biskupiak: I love this, I love this. 

Susan Rietano Davey: We’re also really careful to say not everything you've done matters. I mean we are not going to tell you ever to put domestic engineer on your resume, or explain that because you manage the grocery budget, that you’re an accountant. We’re not doing that. We're being very selective. But here are four common examples that we see.

Kelley Biskupiak: It’s just food for thought. 

Susan Rietano Davey: That's right. So bookkeeping, let's say you manage the investment portfolio of your family. We've seen a lot of women who become day traders and their job is managing the college savings...the college funds. 

Kelley Biskupiak: Or the second that we’re gonna invest in a second home.

Susan Rietano Davey: That is valuable currency. Right, or invest it. Maybe the treasurer of a volunteer organization or the PTO that matters, you're handling others money. We just had so many students come through and they say they've done nothing, but then through conversation, they’ll say, well, I do the books for my husband's company and it's a $10 million company, and they do government work, so they've got all kinds of really high bars to be from an accounting practice standpoint, and they don't think that matters, that matters. 

Another example is marketing. So you might edit the newsletter to your place of worship or maybe you do the social media marketing for your kids’ baseball team, or you're designing programs for concerts or other types of events. Those skills, those tools that you use and the skills that you've developed in using those tools to create those products are all very valuable. Those are just skills that really matter. Project management, so let's say you've built a home or you flipped homes. We’ve had a number of women come through that say, Well, I don't, I haven’t done anything. 

Kelley Biskupiak: I’ve done nothing.

Susan Rietano Davey: That’s usually where everybody starts, I haven’t done anything. And then we dig, and we dig. And we find that one of them was in Colorado.

35:00 Susan Rietano Davey: She flipped four homes, herself. Her husband had a separate job, and her job was to invest in these homes, be the general contractor to fix them up and then flip them... That's property management. That's project management. Those are valuable skills. 

Kelley Biskupiak: Real estate.

Susan Rietano Davey: Yep, exactly. And then the last example is more human resources related, so we've had a couple of students come through and say, Well, you know, I haven’t done anything, so we dig and we find out... Well, actually, what they've done is sat on a number of hiring boards in their community... That's recruitment. That’s staffing, that's talent management. Whatever you wanna call it. 

A number of them have come through and they've been writing policy for the boards that they sit on... We’ve had a few come through that say, oh you know, one student in particular who every year spent about a week to do a deep dive in editing and updating and reconfiguring the compliance employee manual for a big manufacturing company. It was her brother’s company. I mean, that's real work.

And this is high stakes when we’re talking about 400 employees and labor, union labor. This is real work. So we want you to just look at those things that you've done, don't discount anything, and when you use this Gap Buster Guide, it will give you some guiding questions.

36:11 Kelley Biskupiak: And some of the positions that you’ve held, volunteer positions that you've held might be really meaty, so for example, we've had students who have been chairs of the Board of Education…

Susan Rietano Davey: Or like chair of the Finance Committee in town…

Kelley Biskupiak: Exactly, and so there is... You wanna take that and you wanna dissect it and really look at all of the different skills and mine for all of the different skills that fall in them. 

Susan Rietano Davey: And don't feel at this point that anything you've done doesn't matter. 

Kelley Biskupiak: Right. 

Susan Rietano Davey: Every one of you, unless you’ve beeen sitting on the couch eating chocolates and watching Netflix, which I know has been a really popular past time, these past few months...You've done something. And we wanna make sure that you take the time to figure it out, okay?

Step 3: Find Your Tribe

36:50 Susan Rietano Davey:  Alright, and so the last piece is find your tribe. We call your tribe, that support system of people that's around you, 'cause you will not do this successfully alone. 

Kelley Biskupiak: Right, get clear about that. Get very, very clear right now. If you think you are gonna be quietly in a corner somewhere…

Susan Rietano Davey: At night, when everybody’s asleep...

37:06 Kelley Biskupiak: On whatever search engine, getting yourself a job and applying and spending your resume in, that is not gonna happen, and you need a tribe of people around you, you need them around you personally on that emotional side of things, and you need them professionally. 

But what we've realized and what we realized very early on in working with all of the women that we work with, is that there are some key roles that need to be filled, and so what we're gonna do here today is we're gonna give you those roles, so what you can do after you get off of this is you can start to think differently about who am I putting around me?

Because what we know to be true is this, If you are a caregiver in any capacity, you take on so many people that need you, and you are carrying... What you need to do is you need to find the people who can hold you and carry you, they have to be strong enough to be able to do that, 'cause you are strong woman, sister! So find the people that can care for you. 

Susan Rietano Davey: And then you have to be willing to ask for it. That's sometimes the biggest challenge is when you're that person that Kelley described, that’s holding up everybody else, you really don't feel comfortable asking others for help and you're going to need help. 

38:19 Kelley Biskupiak: Yes, you absolutely are gonna need help. So what we've done is we've defined some key roles, and so on this next slide, what you're gonna wanna do is... we actually don't have a freebie for this one. 

Susan Rietano Davey: No, but you’re gonna write them down, start taking a look at who can fulfill this role for me? 

38:32 Kelley Biskupiak: Right, take a screenshot or whatever as we move through this. So the first one is the ally, and the ally is someone you're very close to, it's someone who has earned your trust, and they can pick you up when you fall down and they can give you those hard truths. And let me tell you something, if you get out of this life with one person or two people that can fill this role, you are a very lucky person. You're very lucky. 

Susan Rietano Davey: So for Kelley that’s her best friend Kat. For me, it’s my sister Lynn. It's that person.,, It's also the person who really wants to see you succeed. 

Kelley Biskupiak: They want you to win, they want you to win, they're not there to pull you down or to make you feel bad... 

Susan Rietano Davey: Or to compete with you... 

Kelley Biskupiak: Or to compete with you, absolutely. And this is the other piece too. When they give you feedback, you actually can receive it and listen to it, you don't feel defensive. 

39:19 Susan Rietano Davey: Even the hardest things, yeah.

Kelley Biskupiak: You don't feel defensive 'cause you're just like, Okay, yeah, they get me and they know me, so that is a role that you absolutely need.

Susan Rietano Davey: It’s kind of like the anchor of your team... 

39:30 Kelley Biskupiak: And then the next one is the mentor. And the mentor is someone that you respect, and they could be someone who is in a chosen industry that you're going after, or it might be someone who's actually done the return to work themselves. But the thing about the mentor is that they have a wisdom, they have some kind of wisdom that they can share with you, and the thing about a mentor, and we get this all the time, everyone thinks that they're so busy or...

39:56 Susan Rietano Davey: Or that you're really asking for a lot of time. Kelley is a good example of... She has one mentor that she used once.

Kelley Biskupiak: Hour and a half. She was riding home from Rhode Island to Connecticut. She was instrumental in what I ultimately ended up start my first business. And I am so grateful to her. I have yet to ever physically, you know be in the same room with her, but she was a mentor to me. She had wisdom to share. And that wisdom helped me get some clarity that I needed. And this is also a person that... As you move through this process and you do have a resume or you want to start to bat around questions...For an interview that’s coming up.

40:41 Kelley Biskupiak: This is a person that really...Gets the first pass at it. Because it's a low-stakes situation. 

Susan Rietano Davey: She should be really honored that you're asking for her advice. That would be the first test for me... if I was asking someone if they were willing to just help me out, I’m going back to work, and they didn't act excited, I would think, okay this is not the right person. 'Cause it really is a true honor to help someone.

And I really am a big, we are big believers in women, especially the women in our courses who succeed to throw that lifeline back and help someone else out because when the women start our courses, there are tears, there's just a lot of...there’s a lot of emotion.

41:18 Kelley Biskupiak: There’s a lot that you've been carrying for a lot of years, and in order to move yourself forward, you need those people that are going to… like I said, hold you. 

Susan Rietano Davey: That’s right, and we always tell them: you’re on the other side of it now, make sure you look out for that one, that person who calls you up when you're really busy and wants to network with you, make sure you say yes to that phone call.

41:36 Susan Rietano Davey: The next piece is the connector. And the connector is someone who has their tenticles out in the community or in the industry…

Kelley Biskupiak: I love that word she used, tenticles…

Susan Rietano Davey: Or both. And they’re someone who is well respected and who also has at least an affection for you and a familiarity with you and they would like to help you by making some introductions. The role of the connector has changed a lot in the last 10 years and a lot even more in the last 10 months, so as we became more socially connected in the professional world on the LinkedIn platform, that helped. 

But now in the last 10 months, we are really essentially connected through digitization, so you're actually... Any one of these roles can be anywhere in the country, as long as you can access them. 

Kelley Biskupiak: We do a lot of work with military spouses, and one of the things that they said is we’re constantly doing moves and this also happens with our other students, if you have been someone who's had multiple moves, like your world is...can now be…

Susan Rietano Davey: Even bigger.

Kelley Biskupiak: Even bigger and more connected, because digitally, we can do that now. That's a... it's a bonus.

42:42 Susan Rietano Davey: And then the last person on that team is called the employer. It’s somewhat of a misnomer, 'cause it's not necessarily the person who's going to hire you, but if it’s someone who's in a hiring capacity, there is a certain level of knowledge and wisdom that comes from that person that does a lot of hiring and interviewing than perhaps the other roles can't provide. 

And this is the person you're going to enlist later in the process of returning to work to say, I'd love to do a practice interview with you, I'd love you to listen to my elevator pitch and see if it really is compelling, and really ask the question, you know, would you hire me if I were in the right field? And if you're lucky enough, perhaps that person is in the field and perhaps they can give you the job, but the real role of the employer is to help you refine all of the tactics that you have when you're ready to launch your career and make sure that you're doing it right... Doing it well.

43:31 Kelley Biskupiak: So as you're doing this return to work journey, you’re really going to want to check the landscape of your life and who you are inviting into your life, and then making sure that these key roles are filled because they're important. 

Susan Rietano Davey: There's another one though.

Kelley Biskupiak: Yeah, so the last one is the disruptor, and the disruptor can become... They can come in the form of an actual person in your life.

43:56 Susan Rietano Davey: Like a mother-in-law, sometimes, not mine, mine’s lovely, but the mother-in-law, might be saying, Oh, Kelly, going back to work four children. How is that gonna work for my son? You know, something related... Something like that. 

44:07 Kelley Biskupiak: It can be your own spouse, your spouse might feel like, You know what, I don't know if I'm cool with the fact that there's so much upheaval, that you've been in a very defined role, you've been in very defined roles for an extended period of time and so upsetting that apple cart might be something that's uncomfortable. 

It may be a good friend who... you've been tried and true, and you are always available for them, and then all of a sudden you have... You're busy and you don't have the time to dedicate to that. And they might feel this disruption, and so what we say here is this little hack we teach, and it's taking the 2% truth from it. 

So the 2% truth, and let me use the example, 'cause I think that's a common... It's all getting up. it’s all getting upset. The 2% truth is this, a shift is happening, there's a change that's happening, and it actually needs to be acknowledged, and what you need to do is to sit down, have a crucial conversation with your spouse and say, Here's what's happening. This shift is happening and I need your support and help as I navigate my way through this and really communicating to the people around you.

45:21 Kelley Biskupiak: You can use that same 2% truth. And so the 2% truth is that the the eye roll and the huffing and all of that, you're not gonna get in it with them, you're not gonna get anywhere... That you're gonna define what the 2% truth is. You are going to communicate what is happening and you are gonna keep on moving because this is important to you.

45:44 Susan Rietano Davey: And they're gonna... they're gonna get on the bandwagon they always do. 

Kelley Biskupiak: Or they can get off. 

Susan Rietano Davey: Yeah, that's right. So the three tips, the three pre-launch steps, focus on you spend that time. It's a really important investment. Take the time to... And you can use our goal setting guides to do that, fill the gaps using our Gap Buster Guide to help guide you with some questions and find your tribe, make sure you’re supported by the right people, these are the first three steps in really everybody's re-launch. We have a lot of students who come to us that are already interviewing or applying and failing, they all come back and start here, it all has to start here.

46:18 Kelly Biskupiak: It works guys... We are telling you it works, we know this, we have lived it ourselves, we have helped women navigate this whole process time and time again, it works. You have to start here.

Susan Rietano Davey: And if you're feeling still like you're alone, just remember there’s thousands of women that return to work every day in our country and with the right strategy, and if you execute it well, you can too.

Kelly Biskupiak: Absolutely.

Susan Rietano Davey: So we are gonna rap up our formal presentation here, what time have we got?  Well that was pretty good. We’ve got 15 minutes?

46:51 Susan Rietano Davey: We’ve got 15 minutes. We can always stay a few minutes later. You can see some information here, you can connect with us in any of those platforms, really important data at the bottom. If what you've seen today is interesting to you, if you'd like to learn a little bit more about what we do, or take a look at our career relaunch course, we offer it three times a year. 

The next opening, I think it's February 1st, around there, we'll be doing a cohort and will have an information session on the same platform on January 20th. And you're all welcome to join us for free, it’ll be recorded if you can't make it, and we'll just be doing a very short presentation on our course and then fielding questions. We’ll have a couple of graduates from our Mom Project cohort as well, to answer your questions, but yeah, we just wanna hear your questions from this, so Hiba?



47:36 Hiba Abdillahi: Hi! Okay, thank you ladies so much!

Susan Rietano Davey: Let them see us now here we go.

Hiba Abdillahi: What an amazing presentation like just packed up with tangible tips. I mean you guys are really the real deal, so we got a lot of really great questions, and the chat has been buzzing. A lot has been said about over-qualified feedback, and a lot of women get that feedback of being over-qualified when they're trying to pivot into a new area of their experience or the same field but maybe a position where they are over-qualified. How do they... What should they say when they get that..

48:18 Susan Rietano Davey: So the best way I like answering a question with a question like that, so Hiba, you and I can roll play it, you just told me I’m over-qualified. Well, gee Hiba what is it about my skills and my experience that makes you think I'm over-qualified for this job? So kind of put them on the spot. So they have to quantify... 'cause sometimes it's just a thinly veiled and not very well veiled, “You're too old” comment. So let's isolate it. 

And let's say that I really am over-qualified. I’ll use myself in this example, when I stayed at home after I had my kids, I had left the corporate world and I had just been elevated just about...I was just gonna be promoted to regional manager. And it was a big, big job. I did not take it 'cause I stayed home with my kids, but when I was looking to maybe go back, I only wanted to do a contributor role. 

I didn't wanna be in leadership. So the way I would have handled that objection was saying, You know what... You're right, I mean, I think technically, if you look at my title, I'm over-qualified, but this is what I wanna do. I'm making a very strategic decision, you know, I've been out for 15 years, and you know that I've kept my skills fairly current through Continuing Ed, and through my volunteer work, but at this point in my life, I'm not looking to be in charge, I'm not looking to run the team, I'm looking to be part of the team and to really excel there. Now, that's not to say that I won't in five years might wanna move up, I'd like that opportunity. 

But right now, this is where I wanna be. This is the only thing I'm looking at. So I guess the way I would explain it to you is that, yeah, if you wanna go over qualified, you have the opportunity to hire someone who's over-qualified, who's gonna be really happy in this role, I'm not gonna be using this as a stepping stone to leave. This is where I wanna be.

Kelley Biskupiak: You're gonna benefit from it.

49:51 Kelley Biskupiak: So just to kind of break that down, what it does is it shifts the dynamic in the conversation. You have taken your power back now by throwing a question at them, now you're interviewing them, you're asking them a question, and it's your opportunity to open up that door to educate them about who you are, and that's why knowing who you are is so important. Right?

50:13 Susan Rietano Davey: The other thing is to understand where the objection is coming from. As a hiring manager, over-qualified means you're not gonna stay, you're just here to get your foot in the door and then you’re gonna leave or you're too expensive. And so by handling it that way, this is all I'm looking for, these are the only jobs I want, and you say that with some authority looking them straight in the eye, that’s gonna take care of that objection pretty quickly.

50:33 Hiba Abdillahi: Perfect. And I think a lot of women need to hear that, right, 'cause sometimes they put you on the spot and you're like, Uh... And then…

Kelley Biskupiak: Right back, that's my favorite thing that she teaches is like... So can you tell me why that is something that you're struggling with? Like isn't that great, and it just puts it right back on them.

50:54 Susan Rietano Davey: There were a couple of other questions that were asked in the precursor about interview, and since we're there, you know, one of them is, how can I explain why I'm going back to work? The question was why I'm hopping back into work without sharing too much, you have no obligation to explain anything... I mean, at all... If you go in there feeling guilty that you're going back to work or... I mean, that's not gonna work. You gotta go in there, it's not that big a deal.

Kelley Biskupiak: Or the baggage thing, I think the baggage thing plays out…

Susan Rietano Davey: I think she might’ve said that, she might’ve been a divorcé, that's none of their business. They cannot legally...The other question was, What can they ask you legally, in some states, including our state of Connecticut, they can't even ask you what your last salary was. Alright, so make sure you know the laws in your state, or the state with the job that you're interviewing in. 

They can't ask you marital status, they can't ask you about your kids. One of the other strategies we teach in our course is called acknowledge and pivot, so they may be able to glean, if you say that you're the treasurer of the soccer club, that you’re a parent.

51:52 Susan Rietano Davey: Right, and they might try to steer the conversation into, Oh, gee I see you have kids who play hockey, Wow, that must be really hard, those early mornings... and they're trying to get you in, and basically what they're trying to do is trap you into becoming the person they've imagined you are. And what you do is you say, Oh yeah, my kids do play hockey. I've actually really enjoyed that opportunity because I became the treasurer of the hockey league, and then you pivot it right into the direction you wanna be.

52:18 Kelley Biskupiak: Here are the skills, here's the value that I had. This is why that actually matters, right? So again, you're taking your power back in that dynamic, I just wanna give a little bit... Just a little more air time to that, how much do I over-share? How much do I actually share? And this happened with a client that I had this past week of really feeling like this big event has happened in your life, and this often is what goes on. This big event, maybe it's a divorce, maybe it's... You had a sick ailing spouse for a number of years and there was a death and you've taken this time away. 

And you're asking yourself the question... I need to explain this, I need to explain why I have this large gap for as many years, and the reality is this: that in-depth conversation really is for your ally, right? Those are for the people that you love the most in your life, to hatch that through. In an interview or in a job situation, you just... You don't have to acknowledge that, you don't have to tell them much. It can just be…

Susan Rietano Davey: No, it’s none of their business.

Kelley Biskupiak: A quick acknowledgement or nothing at all, just talk about who you are now sitting in front of them. Don't feel like you have to explain...

53:35 Kelly Biskupiak: And I think that is something that we do feel...I wanna be authentic. I wanna feel like I'm not faking it till I make it that it's like, No, no, no. That's not what you're doing here, you are just... You are a woman who does not have to share everything that has gone on in her life with someone that you just met... You don't have to do that, you don’t. It’s a permission. 

Hiba Abdillahi: Thank you. Yeah, we love that. Okay, one question came from the chat about meteor volunteer experience, where should they put that... Should that be... Should they transfer that as work experience or should they leave that in the volunteer experience?

54:11 Susan Rietano Davey: Lot of it depends on how long your gap was. So if you have a long gap say beyond three, four years, you wanna put it in your experience... So experience is experience, it doesn't matter if it's paid or unpaid. There is a difference, and in some cases, the paid experience connotes more value to the employer, but what you don't wanna do is a resume that starts in 2004, that's not going to serve you... No one's gonna look at it. 

So if you can start your experience right now, so we just worked with a private client, or I actually worked with a private client who came from The Mom Project. She was already interviewing, so she wasn't a candidate for our course, she had done all the foundational work on her own, but when she sat... Sat me down, I said, Oh my God, you can't go in there with this… you haven’t done anything. It was 16 years for her. So she had had some really common experiences, she did some PTO work and she did some work for her girl’s lacrosse team. And so we just made it sound as professional as possible, instead of putting down... lollipop elementary school, we put down the school system name.

55:10 Susan Rietano Davey: We talked about some specific things that she'd done, what her development efforts had yielded, how she set up a Mail Merge for the organization and started with that. And we made sure in this case, she had worked for a major Wall Street firm that that showed on the first page. So that's one way to do it. If you've had even a little bit of paid work experience during that 16 years, let's say you did one project here in one year or another project another year, and then like every other year, you do a manual for someone... 

So maybe even only 20 days of work in 16 years, you put that on there and you call it your consultancy. You put down your initial units like Hiba, H.A. project management, and then select clients include, you know... Boom, boom, boom. It doesn't matter that it was 20 days over 16 years. 

Kelley Biskupiak: It was work. 

Susan Rietano Davey: It was work and it just saves that space... Now, you'll have an opportunity when you're interviewing to be a little more clear on it. The job of the resume is just to convey... It's a conveyor, it gets you from nowhere to barely a foot in the door. If you have nothing for 14 years, you're just not gonna get in the door.

56:24 Kelley Biskupiak: And it also tells a story, it gives something and it's gonna get you the act of going through creating that resume, and it's you giving a story to those years…

Susan Rietano Davey: And value to them!

Kelley Biskupiak: Absolutely.

Hiba Abdillahi: So another question that came up, was about just how do you even feel comfortable to put that pause on your resume? I know for The Mom Project, we have our Resume Rev tool that adds that career pause in there, but for the women that aren't using that tool or wanna speak up for their pause, what would be the best way to add that to your resume?

57:03 Susan Rietano Davey: Just the way I explained it. So the resume starts with a profile statement, there's a section, maybe some key skills highlighted, and then it says experience. And your experience includes that. Now the pause that The Mom Project advocates is great if you've only been out for a few years. That's not gonna work for someone who's been out for a while. I am never going to look at someone whose last experience was in 2001, I can't... You know, that's just, I need to know what you've done. 

Kelley Biskupiak: And you have done something right? Because I think the power dynamic that gets set up there is that you did nothing for all of those years, you did... If you were out for 17 years, you did something that has value and it needs to be on that resume, and it needs to be valued on the resume.

57:48 Susan Rietano Davey: And that really comes from you, how strong do you feel about it, but... So to answer the question, it goes right under experience. And it's right in there and it's using the most... In our course, we actually give them tons of examples, we have a whole site now that we're building, that's just all of our prior students showing how they think and they're so cute, they'll say, I'll read something and say...Gosh that looks just like my writing. And we’ll say, it is your writing you wrote it.

Kelley Biskupiak: She’s an English major…

Susan Rietano Davey: And I don’t care, steal it, use the language, and so yes, it goes right on the resume.

58:21 Hiba Abdillahi: And another thing that came up was networking, How should women feel comfortable reaching back out to people that they've worked with years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, especially now during this covid-19 world where we're all networking via computer, what steps should they start taking when they need to network to kind of get their feet back wet into the job. 

Kelley Biskupiak: Yeah, I think the skill of explore and assess is a great way to open up that door for you. It is to reach out, if you're at the very beginning stages, to actually just own it and say, You know, I am looking to explore my return to work. And here is... And you wanna start with somebody that you feel comfortable with, somebody who was a cheerleader for you when you were actually working in maybe that environment or that... That corporation or whatever. But that explore and assess is a great way that you're doing some gap...some data gathering that could be one way.

59:26 Susan Rietano Davey: So basically what you're saying is like, Don't go in, don't start your conversation looking for jobs... start looking for information. But I would also say this, I would just toss it right back to whoever asked that question. If somebody from your last corporate job or whatever it was, maybe it was non-profit called you after 15 years, how would you feel? 

You'd probably be so happy to hear from them. We somehow think that because we've been out for 15 or 20 years that no one remembers us, no one wants to hire us. I was recently asked to write a referral for someone I managed in 1994. Okay, I don’t know how many years ago that was, 26 years, right? I still remember him! 

Kelley Biskupiak: I had just graduated.

Susan Rietano Davey: First of all I was really glad that he asked me because I thought that was really sweet, but I remembered him! And I was so honored to hear from him.

1:00:09 Kelley Biskupiak: Yeah, this happens with our students too…

Susan Rietano Davey: All the time

Kelley Biskupiak: They’re petrified. Petrified to get their LinkedIn profile up and put their picture out and do all of that, and they're like, Let's... Nancy, so and so from... that worked in this department is gonna see it and I don't wanna put it up there and then they put up there and then all of a sudden Nancy…

Susan Rietano Davey: Nancy is the first one that popped up…

Kelley Biskupiak: Nancy is like what can I do to help you? We have heard that story time and time again, so some of it might just be you holding yourself back...

1:00:37 Susan Rietano Davey: Yeah I mean if you left the workplace in good stead, if you were a good employee and you're reaching out to someone that you worked with, they're gonna be happy to hear from you, the other piece...

1:00:46 Kelley Biskupiak: You might be a breath of fresh air, it might be like oh! Yeah! 

1:00:48 Susan Rietano Davey: Like I remember you! I think the other piece of it, Hiba is just to also make sure that you have a specific ask... So I've been working for a long time, I'm a leader in the community. I get a lot of messages, I get phone calls, emails and LinkedIn reaches all the time when it's specific, Hey, Susan, I'm really interested in X, or I see that you know this person, or, Hey, we worked together on this project. I really enjoyed working with you...Can I have 10 minutes of your time? Just to talk about where I might go next, just give me something specific, don't tell me. Hey, Susan, let's connect or...

1:01:22 Kelley Biskupiak: Let me pick your brain...don’t say that line. 

Susan Rietano Davey: Don’t say that line. 

1:01:26 Susan Rietano Davey: Icky anyway. The other one that I think... And this, I think, sets us apart. I'm not a big believer in someone who's been out of work for 14 years emailing me or texting me, and saying Hey, let me just see how we can help each other. You know, I know you're looking for a job, just be honest with me. I’m happy to help you. 

But don't give me some BS about how I’m gonna help you... You’re not gonna help me right now in my corporate job, you've been out for 14 years. That doesn't mean you're not a valuable human, I might not enjoy your company...but let's just be direct and authentic, and I promise to whoever asked that question, the minute, she makes a couple of those reaches, she's going to get... It feels so good.

Kelley Biskupiak: And she's gonna get response.

1:02:01 Hiba Abdillahi: Okay, so we want to talk about mindset, and we could probably end on this. How important is your mindset when it comes to achieving return to work goals, like how important...right?

Kelley Biskupiak: It’s everything. Ladies, and maybe a few guys. It is everything, it is everything. The way you talk to yourself is so important, it will get you up in the morning and move you forward, or it will hold you back, and we do more of a dive into this specifically in our course about... We have worked with so many women, and although your stories are unique to you, you all seem to fall... Us included, I'm not saying all of us….circle of trust. 

All of us, either in some way are trying to please the people around us, or we're trying to be too perfect, or we're hiding from something. And so if you can just recognize, I am stuck in a  pleasing mindset and it's not powerful, then you can step our of it you you always have a choice. Always. 

Susan Rietano Davey: And your mindset is what I hear when you’re interviewing me. Whatever your head is telling you is what's coming out of your mouth and it is the biggest thing that can get in your way. 

1:03:27 Kelley Biskupiak: Yeah. So just having some awareness around it, there are a lot of great resources that...we can do a whole session on that

1:03:32 Susan Rietano Davey: We do. Actually Kelley does several lessons in our course, just at different points in the course on mindset because different things pop up, right. When you're putting yourself out there, there's a whole new set of mindsets that come out. 

1:03:43 Kelley Biskupiak: Because you seem vulnerable, you're putting yourself out there, and here's the thing, you are probably gonna hear things that you don't necessarily want to hear, and you... Again, that's where that tribe is so important, that's where that ally is so important to have that person to kind of fall apart, too And say, This is a lot for me.

And when Susan said that thing about really knowing and understanding your interests so that you can fill yourself back up, because this takes work and you're gonna get knocked down and you're gonna hit the mat and you're going to feel like, Oh my gosh, I don't know if I can stand back up again, you can. 

And starting with, How am I speaking to myself? Am I setting myself up for success? Or am I telling them myself, I'm bad and I'm wrong and I'm not enough. And if that's what you're saying to yourself, you need to stop that right now, we need to stop that right now, you are the workforce more than ever, more than ever needs you out there and contributing and bringing your talents and your skills, and all of the flavor that we as women bring...We need it. It needs to happen.

1:04:46 Susan Rietano Davey: So true, in fact, we just put in our last newsletter, an article from the Harvard Business Review about how… in December 3, their last addition of the year. And the whole was written by two men who did the research was about how women are the best leaders in crisis, and boy, if we don't have enough crises going on right now.

1:05:06 Kelley Biskupiak: Yeah, I mean there’s crisis happening in my house right now with the circus of children and wifi and all of that that’s being taxed and we’re handling it. 

Hiba Abdillahi: I think a lot of women feel alone sometimes, and what I love about what you ladies just said it's like, you're not alone. Have that tribe. Go to these free resources, like what you just...our Master Class today, reach out to your network. You are not alone and never feel alone, and I mean, we cannot thank you ladies enough…

Susan Rietano Davey: Thank you. 

Kelley Biskupiak: Thank you. 

Hiba Abdillahi: If you didn't get your question answered, which we know we didn't get to everyone's on time, we will be able to send it to Kelley and Susan and they will be able to answer those...

1:05:54 Susan Rietano Davey: But you know what we're gonna do Hiba? We're gonna take those questions and we’re gonna...we did this last time 'cause we didn't get to everybody, we're just gonna film a Zoom, just the two of us, we're gonna get those questions and we're gonna answer them all for everyone, we wanna make sure everybody’s questions get answered. We will... some of them will be somewhat similar, but we'll do that, we'll do that right away.

1:06:12 Hiba Abdillahi: Perfect, so your questions are gonna be answered, if you RSVP’d to this session, you will get the link so you can re-watch it. This session is always gonna be on our YouTube page as well thank you so much Kelley and Susan for joining us today...joining our first Master Class and we will be back very soon for our next one day so have a great Friday everyone and thank you so much!

▶️ Watch Susan and Kelley discuss ageism in the workplace and how to combat it.

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