Donna Korren left her advertising-manager job at Vogue to raise her daughter more than 20 years ago. She calls it her “not-so-stay-at-home career,” that involved part-time jobs and consulting. Considering time away from work? Here are five things she said will pay off when you are ready to re-enter the workforce.

Don’t stop working

I left Vogue, but I never fully abandoned my career. My first move was to find a part-time job in my field. I worked in sales at Time Inc.’s Baby Talk magazine. It gave me flexible hours, a good income and a supportive work environment. Figure out how you can get paid for your skills. Begin leveraging your skills and reputation right away. The longer you wait, the harder it will be.

Stay connected

This involves more than sending a holiday card once a year. You have worked for years and know how to connect with colleagues and clients. Stacey Delo, chief executive of Après, suggests “scheduling quarterly coffees with former colleagues, attending speaker events in the area and following industry trends through being active on LinkedIn.”

Stay relevant

There are hundreds of websites hungry for content. Write what you know about. Research what you don’t. Figure out where your voice can be heard. Local colleges look for experts to teach adult education courses. Libraries and religious organizations use speakers for events. Your local community center may hire you to run a workshop.

Stay informed

The biggest hurdle in returning to work after stepping away is a lack of industry knowledge. Companies are changing their systems and practices constantly. It’s important to remain up-to-date. Tami Forman, executive director of Path Forward, said, “Carve out a few hours each week to review newsletters and podcasts related to your field. You can read them or listen to them in the carpool line.”

Be engaged

Find ways to make a contribution in your new world. Join mentoring organizations, especially intergenerational ones. Companies are recognizing the value that seasoned professionals offer younger ones. Establish a track record of mentoring younger professionals. Better yet, start a mentoring group in your community.

 

Washington Post