Many women choose to stay at home to do the tough work of raising children when their little ones are young. It’s a hard job, to be sure, and I applaud women who make that choice consciously and with purpose.

There may come a time, though, when you are ready to step back into your career or begin one for the first time. It is not uncommon for women to be stay-at-home moms until their children begin school, for example, at which time they step back into the workforce. Others decide to start working outside of the home after their kids have grown and left the nest. Still others find themselves needing to go back to work due to financial reasons. However you arrive at this path, there are some strategies you should consider employing to make this transition a smooth one. After all, you may have been out of the game for quite some time and the rules may have changed on you!

First things first, you have to make some plans regarding the care of your children. If they are still too young to come home from school and be on their own, you will need to find a suitable arrangement. You can look into a nanny who will look after your children in your home or a daycare center where your children will go after school or all day if they are not yet in school. Or, you can rely on family members who live close by and are available. Do your research and interview candidates thoroughly or ask your friends for a recommendation.

You now need to focus on landing a job. It’s time to dust off that old résumé and give it a rework. Read up on current résumé guidelines so that yours looks fresh and provides the information employers want to see. You will have a gap in your employment history, obviously, so you will want to highlight your skills and qualifications more heavily than your job history.

You employed many skills as a stay-at-home mom. Multitasking, anyone? Think about how you organized, managed, and ran your household. Consider how you taught, problem solved, and committed fully when it came to your children. Determine what skills you developed in your role as a mother that will have great crossover applications in the career you are seeking. Highlight them on your résumé.

Once you have a polished résumé you have to start looking. Begin with your network of friends, former employers, and family. Nothing beats a referral, especially when you are going to be competing against applicants with a steady work history and potentially more experience than you. Having a firsthand recommendation is a great way to overcome your employment gap and not have your application and résumé overlooked.

Moving back into the workforce can be an exciting yet scary time for mothers. Just remember that you have a great deal to offer and you will find a job that is a great fit for you and your family. Happy hunting!

-Dr. Erica Miller