Each week, TopResume's career advice expert, Amanda Augustine, answers user questions on Quora. We'll be republishing those answers here. A certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW), Amanda has been helping professionals improve their careers for over 10 years. Have a question for Amanda? Submit it here.

Q: I'm a stay-at-home mom who's ready to get back to work — where do I start?

“Now that the elves are all grown up and out of the house and my husband is constantly traveling for work, I'd like to get back into the workforce. Where do I start?” — Mrs. J. Claus

Hi Mrs. C! Below are some tips to help you jump back into the workforce as quickly as possible.

Reevaluate your job goals

Are you planning to re-enter the same industry and career track, or are you considering a new direction? Before you launch into your job search, do a little soul searching and clarify your job goals. You may find that the corporate job may no longer hold its appeal or that you're extremely passionate about the volunteer work you've been doing in recent years and would like to pursue a career in that area instead.

Invest in your brand

When was the last time you updated your LinkedIn profile or took a good look at your resume? Take this opportunity to update your personal branding materials for your job search.

Remember, just because you haven't received a paycheck in a while doesn't mean you haven't gained skills worth bragging about. Whether you managed a team of volunteers for a school fundraiser or oversaw a home improvement project, don't discount the valuable experience you've gained while managing the household and caring for your family.

If you're looking for opportunities to fill your current employment gap, search for skill-based volunteer opportunities on sides like Catchafire and Hands On Network that will allow you to sharpen your professional skills for a good cause.

Catch up on your trade

Subscribe to relevant online publications and set up Google News Alerts on the major players in your field and other industry terms to get a pulse on the news and trends in your line of work. This will not only help you when you're networking, but it will also provide some insight into job market and where the best opportunities may be found.

Make networking a priority

Research has shown you're 10 times more likely to land a job when your job application is accompanied by a referral. In addition, a survey by Alumnifire found that 90% of hiring managers would prefer to hire a fellow alum, if given the opportunity. Make a concerted effort to reconnect with former colleagues, clients, vendors and alumni from your alma mater who work in your industry.

Consider joining a new professional association to help you meet like-minded professionals or attending a relevant trade show or conference to reacquaint yourself with those in your industry.

Don't discount your personal connections during your job search. Whether you're cheering in the stands at your son's basketball game or leading your daughter's Girl Scout troop, family activities can turn into networking goldmines. Use these opportunities to get to get to know the parents of your children's friends and teammates. You'd be amazed at who you could meet at your kid's school play or karate lesson.

Seek professional development opportunities

Invest in your career by seeking out opportunities to bolster the skill sets your target employers care most about. This is also a great way to brush up on skills you haven't had to use in a while or familiarize yourself with a new technology that's now commonplace in your industry. There are many free and low-cost training opportunities available online and in-person. Check out SkillShare, edX, Coursera, Lynda.com, and CourseHorse, to name a few. Click on the following link for more interview advice.

Need help getting back into the workforce? Start with a free resume review by TopResume.

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