Looking for advice on how to break into tech after a substantial employment gap to raise a family (who still need raising :).

Hello Elpha Community!I am new here and well, new to tech. I have very much enjoyed finding this community of women supporting other women in this space and appreciate the authentic and open responses on every thread. I am looking for some practical advice on how to land that first job when tech is not your background and you've been out of the workforce raising a family for 5+ years. Specifically, I am skilled at and interested in cross-functional positions at the intersection of people, product, and operations.Even though I am a Bay Area native of 30+ years, we are currently raising our kids in MN. This complicates things because I am looking for remote or hybrid positions that offer work"place" flexibility. While remote opportunities are more abundant than ever, I am finding that they are largely geared towards capturing the Bay Area exodus of its talent pool, which is difficult to compete with as a newbie. I have invested heavily in self-educating myself on LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, and getting my CSPO, however, my resume still shows a significant employment gap and zero remote or job specific experience.Luckily, my husband works in tech as a data science manager, so he has been a great resource and encouragement to me, but I guess I'm coming to elpha for the distinctly female perspective. I would love to hear from career-changers, hiring managers, and parents who have re-entered the workforce after a stint as a stay-at-home parent. What has your experience been like? If you're a hiring manager looking at a resume with a substantial employment gap or lack of direct experience, what would convince you to give this person a call anyway? Are there truly any entry-level jobs out there? Even entry-level postings seem to require 1-3 years of some specific experience. I would love directions to the on-ramp if you have them. ;-)Respectfully and thankfully,Sarah Van Benschoten
Hello Sarah and welcome! Are you open to exploring new career opportunities meaning potentially having to start a little bit more entry-level with an opportunity to maybe climb the ladder a bit faster than your peers (given that you are not technically an entry-level)? I would consider roles around customer support/customer or BD rep/SDR if a career in sales is interesting to you?Definitely check out Elpha job board and alternatively, one of our portcos is hiring for a few roles any of interest?
Hi Iynna!Thank you for the welcome and for your response! I am definitely open to starting in a function with more entry-level opportunities as long as I can see a path to where I'm going and can cover the cost of childcare along the way. ;-)While I don't feel sales would be a good fit for my trajectory, I agree that some customer success positions could sharpen the user engagement skills needed to become a standout PM. However, those positions tend to lack the cross-functional aspect of collaborating with diverse stakeholders to set requirements, involvement in the process of setting product vision & design, or validating market fit which are the core competencies I am looking to apply and develop further after a year of self-study.As such, I have been targeting non-product positions that are highly cross-functional and more in-line with my previous experience - like Executive Assistant or Chief of Staff. Though, my ideal entry would be as a Product Analyst or Product Associate position that reports to an existing, strong product manager and is more lenient on the years of experience. I am also targeting Generalist roles in early-stage start-ups where I might be able to have my hands on a little bit of everything (People/Ops/Product/Strategy) and learn quickly as I go.I would welcome any comments on this search strategy! Best,Sarah
Hi Sarah,I wanted to follow up - how is your search coming along? Have you checked roles on Elpha - Webflow is looking for a CM (remote friendly) definitely follow @alirohde she has a super valuable newsletter for Chief of Staff roles! one of her latest posts
Hi Iynna,Thank you for checking in! These are all great resources; thanks for sharing! My search is still only simmering as I am 4 weeks away from my due date. :-) The plan is to continue networking and looking for possible summer internships/training opportunities before an ideal Fall 2021 start-date. I have really appreciated Elpha, the Mom Project, and Product School as ways to upskill and connect in the meantime! Sarah
Oh My God so exciting!
Hi Sarah, Welcome! It may be worth following She offers terrific advice and information of how to land a job in tech even if that isn't your background and/or have a large work gap on your resume. Her IG account offers several free videos on these topics.
Hi Sheila!Thanks so much for the recommendation! I will definitely take a look. Best,Sarah
Hi Sarah,Have you heard of the Mom Project? This article has other resources that might be helpful as well:
Thanks Tanya! For some reason I thought this was a placement agency. Thanks for the tip!
You asked specifically for the perspective of a hiring manager evaluating a resume with little recent relevant experience. So I will try to provide that. I hire engineers in startups and I have experience recruiting from inexperienced pools. Firstly, a major motivation for recruiting from inexperienced pools is as a strategy to open up options. I.e. I am having difficulty finding candidates with substantial relevant experience that are willing to work for my small start up. When the primary pool of candidates is tight, it is worthwhile to consider the relative riskiness of pulling in someone with little experience. This is a way to find high quality professionals that I can actually afford/recruit to my opportunity. Secondly, when evaluating these candidates, I do evaluate their experience. I don’t view them as having done nothing. I look at what they have done. I have a set of core skills in mind for the role, it might be analytical thinking and communication skills. I need to see evidence of both: it could be as simple as a longtime chess hobby and a really well written cover letter. That’s not enough to get a job, but it some evidence of my core skills is minimally required to get an interview. Finally, I am looking at domain expertise. As a mom, you have deep domain expertise about the consumer experience of moms. There are a lot of businesses where that is relevant knowledge. No doubt you have other area of your life where you have intimate knowledge of the customer experience. This is relevant experience in many roles. Finally, the thing that gets you the offer are generalist skills. I.e. you come across as a responsible, reliable professional that will learn quickly. Hiring junior requires us to invest effort into training you. We want to bring in people who will make the most of the training we put in and become valuable independent contributors as soon as possible.
I apologize for the delayed response; somehow I missed your post until now. Thank you for your persective from the recruiting angle. This is incredibly helpful insight and definitely informs the story I want to craft as my search evolves. Thank you also for acknowledging how relevant experience as a mom or as an engaged consumer can be. It is encouraging to hear that some recruiters do look for the value in those journeys as well.