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Taking a Career 'Time Out'? 5 Tips for a Smoother 'Opt In'

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD | Last updated on

A recent New York Times Magazine article followed up on a piece published 10 years ago entitled "The Opt-Out Revolution." The first article was about a new phenomenon: high-powered women in great careers "opting out" of the workplace to focus on motherhood.

In the follow-up article, "The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In," the author got in touch with some of the women profiled to see how their decision had fared. Though the three women profiled enjoyed their time with their children, 10 years later they were all trying to find work, and were facing very real challenges. You never know what life will bring, and the decrease in confidence -- once boosted by their careers -- had ramifications for the entire family.

Some women want to opt back in to their careers because they missed work, while others, now divorced, need to provide for their families. Whatever the reason you may decide to take a career "time out," there are things you can do to make the transition back into your career a bit smoother.

Here are five tips for a smoother opt-in to your career:

1. Keep in Touch.

Don't fall off the face of the earth when you become a parent. Make full use of all the contacts you worked so hard at building. Keep in touch with mentors and colleagues, because you never know when new positions will open up.

2. Build New Networks.

Whether it's at a local mom's club (you're definitely not the only career woman-turned-mom out there), or your local bar association, stay involved as a member of the community. Always continue to build new networks, as you'll have more success finding a job through your network than you will by blindly submitting a resume.

3. Stay in the Know.

Keep up with your CLE requirements and continue to read trade publications. You paid lots of money for that law degree, so don't let it go to waste. Yes, CLE courses can be expensive when your firm isn't footing the bill, but think of it as an investment -- you are worth it.

4. Volunteer.

Maybe you don't have time for full-time work, but you'll get tired of play-dates soon enough. You can stay involved in your community and use the skills you have. Look for work with non-profits, or even your child's school board. Being part of something meaningful, while keeping your skills polished, will help you find work and make you feel better about yourself.

5. What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Take some time to think about what you really want to do. Do you want to opt back in to the partner track? Do you want to do something else entirely with your law degree? The possibilities are endless.

Taking a time-out doesn't have to be a career killer. If you take some small steps during your time off to keep your foundations strong, then you'll be able to opt-in with more ease than if you were to stop working cold turkey.

We'd love to hear about your opt-out/opt-in experiences. Send us a tweet (at @FindLawLP) or post a comment on our FindLaw for Legal Professionals Facebook page to let us know.

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