Let me start with a disclaimer: I am not yet a mother. I am writing this article as a business owner who wants to change the perception of hiring mums back into the workplace and give mums out there (who need it) the courage and confidence to re-enter the workplace, and not only this but applying for the jobs they are qualified for.
Upon seeking advice from a fellow business owner in my industry, I was faced with the realisation of a pool of talent that many businesses seemed to be casting to the side. The male business owner offering me advice on recruitment provided me with insight into his own experience of the returning mum when hiring himself. He had witnessed a serious lack of self-confidence in interviews with several women so I felt this was worth writing about.
One of these stories in particular that stuck with me is of a mother who had decided to reenter the workplace after a 7-year break to take care of her family. She had previously been in a high position in a large corporation with the usual high pressure, tough deadline environment. When attending the interview for this particular role (which was far from being the high corporate role she had once undertaken) she was wearing a brand new suit to impress, obviously. Once the interview came to an end, the interviewer (who was male) asked, ‘Why are there still tags on the suit?’ She responded: ‘Honestly, I didn’t think there was any chance I would get this job so I planned to take the suit back to the shop afterwards.’ Despite her obvious lack of belief in herself, she got the job, and actually went on to be very valuable to the business who decided to hire her.
Despite the number of skills obtained whilst being a parent – time management, patience, communication skills, independence, etc. – these mums seem to underestimate their value and sometimes belief of what they can bring to the table due to this ‘gap’ away from their career.
“Mothers that have been away from a working environment for a few years may experience a great deal of anxiety about returning back to work; and that could be preventing them from applying for the sorts of positions they’re qualified.”
What to do next?
- Do a self-assessment. Ask yourself what you want from a job. In some cases, after becoming a mother your priorities and values may have changed. This will help formulate your job search and what is most important to you.
- Give yourself a boost of confidence and remind yourself of your value. Consider creating a mind map that explores what you are good at, where you have demonstrated this, and the sorts of roles which would benefit from these skills.
- Negotiate flexibility in your next role. Most organisations are now recognising the need to provide flexible hours to support their employees on work life balance. Do your research and speak to others who are in flexible positions to understand what you can negotiate. Then organise a meeting in which to discuss the options.
- Be prepared. One of the most nerve-racking things for mums returning to work is developing the confidence to handle interviews. Spend plenty of time doing research into the company, role play an interview with a friend or a partner and take the time to plan out some great questions to ask at the end.
- Look good, feel good! Since becoming a mum, it might have been a while since you spent some well-earned time on yourself. If this is the case, have a manicure, get some new makeup, have a long bath, buy a new suit, whatever you need to feel awesome and get your self-confidence back to take on the business world again.
Written by Rebecca Woolford.
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