The Mommy Track

That ’80s phrase referred to the legions of highly qualified women who tried to juggle fast-track corporate careers with the demands of raising children and found themselves passed over for plum assignments and promotions. Eventually, fed up with the obstacles they encountered, many of these women left the workforce altogether.

Fast forward 15 years. The kids are in college, and Mom’s ready to go back to work. She dusts off her MBA and sallies forth, confident that the $100,000 job she once walked away from is hers again for the asking. But, as a recent article in The Wall Street Journal made clear, in many cases even the most rigorous efforts of these once-prized employees didn’t net them a single interview, let alone a job. Left behind by new technologies and new business processes, they remain unemployed, start their own businesses, or end up as baristas behind a Starbucks counter.

This could happen to any of us, regardless of age or gender. In an uncertain economy, no one can afford to be out of touch with what’s happening — today’s rapid changes in logistics, warehousing, and related disciplines require a fixed focus on a moving target. To help you not only keep the job you have but get the next one, here are some pointers from industry experts, recruiters, and trade associations:

Develop unusual skills

Whether you obtain certification in a new area or learn a new language, the payoff is a unique set of capabilities that you can add to your resume.

Invest in continuing education

Look into degree programs at local colleges, seminars offered by trade groups, international management programs, and other structured courses.

Gain relevant experience

When you put volunteer work on your resume, be sure that it’s connected with your professional achievements.

Work on freelance projects

Even if your schedule is tight, it is worthwhile to take on consulting assignments (assuming, of course, that there is no conflict of interest with your current employer).

Stay connected

At least a few times a year, write, call, or e-mail your mentors, college buddies, ex-employees, and industry contacts. They can be an invaluable source of information about current trends in your industry and possible developments down the road.

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