But now a website offering one-stop shopping for these 'On-Rampers' as they're called, has now come out with a new manual on how to make the process less stressful and more understandable.
Five years ago, Mimi O'Connell had a good job and wanted a family. She quit the job and had a family and has two kids - 4-year-old Brook and 2-year-old Briar. Then she decided it was time to go back to work again.
"What I found was there weren't a lot of opportunities and I didn't know where to seek them or to find the," said O'Connell.
O'Connell wanted it all, a family plus part time fulfilling, good paying work. She wanted some answers.
"Where to find those types of jobs, what companies are open to working with people who have taken time off, which companies are flexible in that way," said O'Connell.
"Your Career On-Ramp" and YourOnRamp.com wasn't around yet to help O'Connell. They are the creation of Milli Gloeb, former /*Gap*/ executive and mother of two and Catherine Clifford, former managing director at Fortune 500 finance company GATX, and mother of three - they found the onramp crowded.
"I was surrounded at playgrounds and at school by talented women - doctors, MBA's, lawyers, who had these amazing careers and had taken some time off to be with their family and wanted to get back in, but were at a total loss as to how to do that," said Clifford.
That's because, as Mimi found out, times change. On-Rampers can lack current knowledge, that's step five, or worse, says Milli, they can lack confidence - it's step one.
"Our biggest thing is knowledge equals confidence. If you work with them and if you put in place a plan on for them to follow on how to get back in, then they realize, wow, I can do this," said Gloeb.
Your Career On-Ramp is the companion to YourOnRamp.com, described as one-stop-shopping for On-Rampers. It has daycare suggestions, a blog, a job board, and more.
Now, that jungle that Mimi faced out there may be turning to an On-Rampers advantage. Some high end headhunters say many employers are looking for very, very specialized skills - see step eight.
"They're more willing to work with candidates with maybe specialized needs with respect to schedule," said Jennifer Colosi, Colosi Assoc. Executive search.
Mimi ended up having it all, landing the job of her dreams as a hiring consultant at Accolo recruiters. With still lots of time for Brooke and Briar and for the baby boy she'll be having in October. If she has one regret - it has to do with YourOnRamp.com.
"I think it's a great idea, I wish I'd thought of it," said O'Connell.
And there are a lot of women who are On-Ramping and changing careers at the same time, many looking to get into non-profit work. And by the way, Mimi says when she has her little boy in October she will only take maternity leave, she will not be On-Ramping again.