After a nearly nine-year-long career break to be a stay-at-home mom, I decided to return to the workforce. I was a software engineer for more than 15 years prior to staying at home, but wanted to venture on a new path. My goal was to be a salesforce administrator, so I embarked on a self-learning journey within the salesforce ecosystem. And I could not have done it without my staffing firm.

As I traversed the trail to becoming certified and rejoining the workforce, a couple of questions remained: How do I gain the necessary experience that many companies require — and would they be willing to overlook that gap in my résumé? Then I came across a staffing firm that focuses on helping moms get back into the workforce after a career break, with a focus on IT and HR industries.

Bingo! I reached out and discovered the company was recruiting for a CRM business analyst position, which was exactly what I was looking for.

Refreshing skills. While submitting me as a candidate for the position, they also worked to get me relevant and ready to rejoin the workforce. Through its program dedicated to helping returning workers like me refresh their skills, I was able to get hands-on experience by working on mock-up projects. They also coached and mentored me through the whole process, from résumé writing to improving my interview skills. My confidence level rose and by the time the interview came around, I was ready to face it with self-assurance.

As of this writing, I have been working as a consultant for more than a month, and it has been an exhilarating experience.

Returning to the workforce after nine years can be a little daunting, especially given how quickly technology changes. It took me a while to get used to communicating with others over Zoom meetings or on Skype, for example, but once I started doing it, I wondered how we ever used to work without them! This is probably the biggest change I have seen. Collaboration is done seamlessly over such platforms and it has become a norm to work on projects with people working remotely. My staffing firm was great in training me on such platforms.

One challenge of being a consultant is I do not belong to a team, and I miss the team camaraderie I used to feel in my previous jobs as a full-time employee.

While I will give my all despite lacking that camaraderie, I do think projects benefit when all workers feel part of the unit. Staffing firms can help by encouraging their client companies to foster a team that includes their consultants.

Untapped pool. The unemployment rate continues to edge downward, and businesses continue to complain of a skills and worker shortage. Yet there are many out there like me, whether out of the workforce by choice or perhaps those who had given up after prolonged poor luck. What if other staffing firms created programs like the one I am working for now? While I was out of the workforce for nine years, it doesn’t take nearly that long for skills to become stale. And just as I was lucky enough to be able to gain necessary skills quickly — with support — so may others with the help of the right programs in place to fill in those gaps.

I have learned that aligning your skill set with the industry’s needs is what matters. With appropriate training, it took me hardly any time to feel I was back in the game. My biggest advice to someone trying to relaunch their careers is not to underestimate yourself. And to staffing firms, don’t underestimate them! With a little support, we can freshen up our skills and be marketable. Putting us to work helps us, but also your bottom line. Given the war for skilled workers, returning moms can be a great source of talent for you and your clients. So, get with the program, educate your clients and come up with creative ways to put us to work.