Career Advice

Starting a Career at 40 After Being a Stay-At-Home Mom: What You Need to Know

Picture this: The kids are already grown up. You spend most of your time at home alone, with little to do. You’re thinking, “I’m starting a career at 40 after being a stay-at-home mom.” Good idea or not?

I say, go for it! However, to make it easier, you must know how to get a job after being a stay-at-home mom for 20 years. I’m here to help you prepare to re-enter the workforce. I’ll even help you build your resume. So let’s dive in!

Is It Hard to Re-Enter the Workforce After Being a Stay-At-Home Mom for Years?

First things first, let’s answer this question. With a HUGE employment gap, hiring managers might easily dismiss your job application as they’ll feel like you’re out of the loop in the job market. On the other hand, some might feel like a stay at home mom has the perfect motivation, work ethic, and self-management for the job. 

Stefan Lilienkamp, the Managing Partner at APEX AV, says:

“Yes, there are some jobs where mothers after some time out of the game have to catch up as technology moved on but be real. That is a clear exemption and I am not talking about rocket scientists. In the majority of cases, I got back very mature, responsible, and adult professionals with a high level of motivation, engagement, work ethics, and self-management. Guess where they have learned that? Yes, you are right. They were running the most rewarding but toughest job in the world, Mother!”

The bottom line is that it will depend on the industry that you’re applying in. Sometimes you’ll get lots of opportunities for a new career. Other times, you might have to be more patient before you can talk to an interviewer. Either way, it’s crucial to prepare before you return to work. 

How to Prepare to Return to Work as a Stay-At-Home Parent for 20 Years

If you’re starting a career at 40 after being a stay-at-home mom, here is what you should do before you start your job search and send in your application:

  1. Find your true career goals
  2. Enhance your skillset
  3. Engage on social platforms
  4. Reach out to existing contacts and build new connections
  5. Seek guidance and mentorship
  6. Craft the perfect resume
  7. Rehearse and equip yourself
  8. Exercise patience and maintain perseverance

1. Find your true career goals

Trust me, you don’t want to apply for every job that you see. It’s not only a waste of time, but you might grab a job that you have zero interest in. Then what? Do you spend the remaining of your work life in a job you hate? Of course not!

Instead, it’s good to ask yourself what your career goals are. Are you looking for a job that provides room for growth? Maybe you just want a part-time job or freelance work to fill the quiet times. Or, maybe you want to start part-time and then transition from full-time. 

Another thing you want to figure out is your passion, skills, experience, education, and training. If you apply for a job that matches your answers, it’ll be a lot easier to land your dream job. Yes, even if you have a 20-year employment gap. 

Read More: Ultimate Guide to Setting SMART Career Objectives (with Examples)

2. Enhance your skillset

There are a lot of great transferable skills that you can learn as a stay-at-home mom. This includes time management, budgeting, communication, organizational skills, crisis management, teamwork, etc.

Besides that, you can also improve your existing soft skills and technical skills. You can learn new skills, too. One great way to do this is to go back to school or sign up for classes. You can choose to join online conferences or get certifications. You can even take part in volunteer work or a talent workshop. 

All this will help you enhance your skillset, which can help you get ready to take the workplace by storm. It’ll also give you a resume boost. 

Read More: Stay at Home Mom to Working Mom Transition: Everything You Need to Know 

3. Engage on social platforms

You don’t just want to find job openings. No, you want a recruiter to find you. And the best place for that is through social platforms, like LinkedIn.

So go ahead and update (or create) your LinkedIn profile. Build a network there. Connect with former coworkers and bosses. Follow companies you’re interested in working for. Engage as much as you can. 

You can also use social platforms to find a job that you like.  Again, LinkedIn is a great place to start. But there are stay-at-home parent websites as well. This is where you can find help after a long career break, even if it’s just to encourage you and remove your insecurity. 

4. Reach out to existing contacts and build new connections

Similar to my previous point, it’s good to reach out to existing contacts. In a study by Zippia, it was discovered that at least 30-50% of new hires are from referrals. So if you want to stand out in the competitive job market, you can ask your contacts for a reference

What if you don’t have existing contacts? No worries! In the online world, you can easily reach out and make new connections

5. Seek guidance and mentorship

To be sure, going back to work after many years will come with its challenges. If you want professional career advice, you can hire a career coach. More specifically, hire a mentor in your industry. They will be able to provide valuable insights about current industry trends, share their experiences with returning to work, and offer advice that will help you get back to work. 

If not, you can join returnship programs. You might not know it, but many companies offer returnship programs designed for individuals returning to the workforce after an extended hiatus. Here, you’ll receive opportunities to update your skills, gain hands-on experience, and ease your way back into the professional world. 

6. Craft the perfect resume

OK, you have very little work experience. You don’t know how that will look to a recruiter checking your resume. Well, it’s a good idea to focus on your skills rather than your experience. This is what is called a functional resume

Moreover, when you get to your experience, you can list your employment gap under the job title of ‘Full-Time Mom’, ‘Family Manager’, or ‘Caregiver’, to name a few. From there, you can make a list of all your responsibilities and accomplishments as a mom raising a child or several children. I’ll go into more detail about how to build the perfect resume below. 

Read More: How to Write a Stay-at-Home Mom Cover Letter (With Samples).

7. Rehearse and equip yourself

Let’s say you’re shortlisted for a job interview. Hurray! However, since you’ve been away for a long time, you’ve probably got a bit rusty when it comes to interviews. This is why, one great way to prepare to go back is to practice your interviewing skills. 

The more you prepare, the more confident you will become. You’ll also be more comfortable answering the questions. That goes without saying that you need to do your research, too. Research the job, the industry, the company… The more you know, the more you can impress. 

8. Exercise patience and maintain perseverance

Don’t expect to find a new job right away. It might take you several months (or more) before you get an interview or a word back from a potential employer. Remember, you have a long employment gap that might not be the best work history for a new company. 

But never lose hope! Stay patient. Keep submitting applications. Persevere until you get the perfect opportunity. Network and connect. Stay positive. If you follow all the preparation tips when starting a career at 40 after being a stay-at-home mom, you will get there (maybe not until a long time, but you will if you persist). 

Resume Template for Stay-At-Home Parents Returning to Work at 40

As promised, I’m going to help you craft the best resume for a stay-at-home mom starting a career at 40. Here is a resume template that will work wonders in your job search:

  • Contact information. At the top of your resume, you need to include your details, such as your full name, phone number, and email address. It’s also wise to include the city and state you reside in. If the job requires it, make a portfolio and include your link at the end of your contact section. It should look something like this:

[First Name] [Last Name]

[Phone number] | [Email address] | [City], [State]

[Portfolio or any relevant link]

  • Professional Summary. In 2 to 3 sentences, write a summary of all your skills, achievements, and (if any) professional background. Remember, this is just the introduction. So always keep it brief. 
  • Skills. As I mentioned, the best type of resume for someone with a long employment gap is a functional resume. This is because it focuses on skills instead of previous work experience. For this template, you start by listing off your transferable skills, soft skills, and technical skills you acquired through the years as a stay-at-home mom and (if any) previous jobs. You might also want to include the achievements you made for each skill. Here is a good example:

[Skill] Schedule Management

Effectively coordinated a demanding schedule for three children, ensuring punctuality for all school-related appointments and activities.

[Skill] Accounting

Established weekly budgets for groceries, achieving a 10% reduction in overall spending within a two-year period.

  • Experience. If you have any work experience, now is the time to boast about it. If you want, you can include your full-time mom responsibilities and achievements. I mean, being a full-time mom is one of the hardest jobs out there. You can even choose to list down any charity or volunteer work you did. Here is a sample for this section:

[Job Title] Full-Time Mom [Month/Year – Present]

Managed daily routines for family members, ensuring a harmonious balance between school, other activities, and personal obligations.

Enhanced household routines to maximize efficiency and foster a cohesive living atmosphere.

  • Education. If you don’t have work experience, you can go straight to your education. It’s important to highlight the diplomas, associate degrees, master’s degrees, or any certifications that you acquired. Remember to include your degree or diploma, specify the educational institution, and give the graduation date (unless it exceeds 5 years). Here is what it should look like:

[Diploma or degree], [Name of institution], [Date, if applicable]

  • Additional information. Finally, you should end with any additional information that is relevant to the job posting. This is why you should always carefully read the job description. Additional information may include testimonials, honors and awards you won, how many languages you can speak, and so much more. NO, this is not a place to list down your hobbies.

Starting a Career at 40 After Being a Stay-At-Home Mom Success Stories

Need some encouragement? Here are a few success stories from moms who went through the same thing as you. 

Pamela Ham, a stay-at-home mom who started a career later in life, shared this after her long journey to become a nurse, “I would be sitting in meetings with doctors, and they would say things like, ‘You’re really smart.’ That’s my favorite compliment. Not being the smartest kid growing up—because I was a C student all the way through high school—and then to end up on the honor roll in my 40s was awesome, and to have a surgeon say, ‘You’re really smart,’ that’s my favorite compliment. It took me a long time to find my passion, but I found it. And I love my work.” You can read more about Pamela Ham’s story here

Someone shared this story about her mother on Reddit. “My mother had been a stay at home mom. When the kids started heading off to college, she got a job as a secretary with the state government (she had done secretarial training when she was in high school). Her boss told her she was being an underachiever and told her to go back to college and get her degree. She got a degree in economics. After graduation, that same boss helped my mom get a job as a financial analyst for the Department of Social Health Services, and she helped run the alcohol and drug abuse program for the next 20 years.”

Another proud daughter posted this about her mother. “My mom returned to work in her mid-40s as an executive assistant at Microsoft, after taking a few refresher courses at the local vocational college. She eventually worked her way into a six-figure Contract Analyst role with the City of Seattle.”

My mother never worked till she was 50. She became a real estate agent and did pretty well at it.” Boasts another proud child on Reddit. 

Final Words

Are you starting a career at 40 after being a stay-at-home mom? There’s still hope for you! If you follow the preparation tips I gave and craft the perfect work-at-home mom resume, you’ll be able to land your dream job. If you need some encouragement, there are a lot of success stories from parents who started work at 40 or older that you can read about. Best of luck!

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

No Comments

    Leave a Reply