Mama. Mommy. Mom. Ask any mother and she'll tell you that those are the most important - and hard-earned - titles she'll ever have.

Mama. Mommy. Mom. Ask any mother and she'll tell you that those are the most important - and hard-earned - titles she'll ever have.


On any given day, a typical mom will perform the duties of childcare provider, teacher, mediator, chauffeur, chef, nurse, personal shopper, financial adviser and house cleaner. A recent study by the website Salary.com found that a stay-at-home mom would earn $122,732 a year if she were doing the same work outside the home.

But try putting "Mom" on a resume and you may be met with a blank stare and a polite thank you from a potential employer. So what's a stay-at-home mom to do once she decides to go back to working outside the home?

In the old days, most women didn't worry about going back to work - their decision to stay at home with the kids was permanent. But many of today's stay-at-home moms see time off with their children as a temporary hiatus from their careers.

Gretchen Poorbaugh of Lewis Center has been a stay-at-home mom for three years. She worked for a healthcare company after her daughters were born, and eventually chose to stay at home with them after moving to central Ohio. "With the move, I decided to stay home with the girls instead of looking for a new job," she explained. "I'm so glad to have had the chance to spend more time with them."

As much as Poorbaugh enjoyed her time at home with her daughters, she always knew that she would return to work at some point. "Now that the girls are getting older and both are in school full-time, I would like to work while they are away," she said. After some research and a lot of thought, she chose to pursue a teaching career.

Poorbaugh is laying the groundwork for her new career by working toward a Master of Education degree from The Ohio State University, and by networking with current teachers, volunteering in her daughters' classrooms, helping out with the COSI on Wheels program, and serving as a community science fair judge at the local middle school.

Poorbaugh's networking and volunteering will pay off down the road, according to Susan Birie, coordinator for the Community Career Resource Center at the Delaware Area Career Center (DACC). She said that networking is one of the best things moms can do to prepare to go back to work. "Stay-at-home moms know many people, such as dance teachers, other parents, coaches, etc., on a personal level related to their children," Birie said. "Letting everyone know what type of position (moms) are looking for in the future can increase the chance that someone knows someone, who knows someone, who may have a position available down the line."

Birie said that moms will have to be more diligent and patient in their job search than ever before. "Applying for jobs has really changed in the last few years," she said. "All applications are online now and you can't be sure if a real person ever sees your information. This is where networking really comes into play." She also advised stay-at-home moms to stay current in their fields by reading trade journals and paying attention to new trends.

Susan Capicchioni of Powell recently started her job search after staying home with her two sons. "I feel so fortunate that I was able to stay at home with my children for the last eight years. But now that my children are in school, I realize that I really missed working outside the home," she said. "Being a mother fulfills you in so many ways, but working outside the home does too. I am at a place in my life where I can and want to do both."

And even though Capicchioni has done all the right things - held leadership positions, volunteered, and kept in touch with former co-workers - she's finding that Birie's advice about being patient and diligent is true. "I have yet to receive a response from the organizations that I've applied to," Capicchioni said. "My background and previous career experience matched exactly what they described they were looking for, yet I was not contacted for an interview. That is most frustrating to me."

If you find yourself with the same types of problems Capicchioni is having, there is hope.

Places like the Community Career Resource Center at the Delaware Area Career Center and the Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services can offer support with career counseling, resume writing advice, and job search assistance, as well as workshops and help with financial aid forms for those who want to go back to school - and all at little or no cost.

Birie works with women at the DACC on an individual basis to help them figure out their career goals - and how to reach them. "I see myself as part cheerleader and part devil's advocate," she said.

Despite the obstacles, it is possible for stay-at-home moms to return to their careers.

Diane Paice of Hilliard is proof. After spending six years at home with her daughters, Paice decided to return to teaching. "When I realized that I was ready to go back to work, I had one child in second grade and one in half-day kindergarten," she said. "I talked to my second grader's teacher about what my training was in and asked her advice on how to go about getting into the district. She was a great help. I also started tutoring children from her class two mornings a week." Paice's contact gave her current literature so that she could catch up on the latest education lingo and stay informed about job postings.

Paice also met with her daughters' principal to get his assistance. Her hard work paid off - she was hired by Hilliard City Schools as an intervention specialist and tutor five months later.

Paice got her job because she worked hard and followed the experts' advice. She networked with her child's teacher, performed resume-quality volunteer work, went on informational interviews, and read current literature in her field.

By putting it all together, Paice was able to get a satisfying job in a relatively short amount of time. She enjoys being back at work. "It's nice to have other adults around so I can bounce ideas off them. I know that I'm doing an important job for the students I work with."


Do family-friendly companies exist?

They do, according to Working Mother magazine's annual list of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers. And some of the friendliest are right here in central Ohio. The six local companies that made the grade are: Abbott, Accenture, American Electric Power,ADP, JPMorgan Chase and The McGraw-Hill Companies.


You've landed an interview! Now what?
Congratulations! Make your interview a success with these tips:
Be confident: Never apologize for deciding to stay home with your kids. Project confidence about your decision to stay at home and stress that you are now ready to return to your career. Stay current on technology in your industry: Talk to your former co-workers and other contacts to find out what has changed about the technology they use since you last worked. Be sure to know the current jargon. Research the company: Not only do you need to know about the industry, but you also need to show your knowledge of the company with which you are interviewing. Demonstrate this by asking knowledgeable questions. Dress appropriately and watch your body language. Career advice from monster.com
Interview tips for stay-at-home moms re-entering the job market


Truda Shinker is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom living in Powell with her husband and two children.