How to be a Successful Job Applicant – Advice for Lone Parents

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Balancing work – full or part time – with added childcare and other life commitments is a hard task, but it’s not impossible.

There are lots of benefits and support available for lone parents to help them get back into work and find the right life/work balance to be a successful employee and parent. Sometimes it’s about thinking more about what’s realistically available to you as a parent, over the demands of only working within school hours. Some tips to consider:

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Update Your CV

Too often I see clients who have been out of work for a few years due to raising their family with big gaps on their CV – Don’t be afraid to utilise this valuable life experience. State on your CV you stepped away from the workforce to raise your family and list the skills this experience has given you (time management, acting under pressure, communication skills, dealing with competing demands). I always suggest clients state under this part that they are also fully able to commit to returning to the workforce as it sets a positive impression from the start.

Related: How to be a Successful Job Applicant – Advice for the Over 50’s

Explaining what you’ve been doing for the last 5years always looks better than an empty gap in your employment timeline.

Create a Support Network

Don’t wait until you have a job interview, work trial or job offer to start creating a support network. Speak to other parents at the school – some of them are likely to be in the same boat as you and will be grateful to have someone who understands and can support them too. Find out what morning and after school clubs are available in the local area and start thinking about budgeting for this. Speak to family and friends to see what support they can offer. It’s difficult relying on one person so the more people you can find to support you the better – make sure you’re prepared for this well in advance so you don’t end up having to turn down interviews!

Be Realistic

Applying for retail and offering to only work 10am-2pm Monday to Friday isn’t going to win over any employers, instead think about what you can realistically offer to meet the demands of the industry you’re applying to.

For retail, think about what weekends you can realistically commit to – Even if you say you can work half day every Saturday, employers will be impressed that you can compromise and at least commit to some of the demands of their store. For administration or receptionist roles think about looking at roles that offer part time work 2 or 3 days week or job shares, rather than the selective school hours. This will be easier to find childcare for than say working 5 days a week.

Update Your Financial Knowledge

Keeping on top of the finances as a parent is a tricky business, especially if you’ve been out of work for a while and have created a budget plan that works – changing this when you start work can be a daunting task so it’s worth thinking about this as you go along with your job search.

As mentioned, there are additional in work support benefits available to lone parents working part time hours, as well as help towards rent payments and council tax payments. It’s worth speaking with a financial advisor or booking an appointment with your local Citizens Advice Bureau to make sure you know exactly how much better off you’ll be in work and what your circumstances will look like financially should you find work.

Related: A Successful Job Search Needs a Curious Mind

Having this knowledge will make it a lot easier to weigh up whether it’s worth applying for certain roles and accepting job offers and hopefully make your job searching a lot easier and more successful!
Being prepared is key and as any parent will know, that’s sometimes a lot easier said than done when it comes to young children! But take control of your job search, know what will work for you and hopefully you’ll start seeing more opportunities come your way.

photo by: ariane

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