The dichotomy of raising a family vs. career growth is shifting. Yes, moms, you can have it all and you should have that opportunity!
Over the past few years, I’ve interviewed multiple moms who had taken 5+ years off to raise a family and then were ready to jump back into their career path. Some candidates told their career story very well, had strong responses to questions about filling the skills/tools gap, and others….did not. It was enlightening to discuss the evolution of teamwork (hello Slack, Dropbox, and Office 365).
Here are some tips on how to remain a competitive candidate for future jobs while leaving the traditional career path to focus on your family.
1 – Have a strong career story. You should be proud about taking the time off. Integrate your time off as part of your career story; it was a step in your career, not an abandonment for the value of your career.
2 – Share your growth in your role as Mom. As we age, we experience personal growth and that may even be accelerated by becoming a parent. You may be up against candidates with the same level of professional experience but less life experience; what skills can you demonstrate as your strengths over your competition? For example, “over the past 5 years, I’ve grown in my self-awareness, emotional intelligence, or ability to negotiate…by…”
3 – Stay current in your industry. There are a number of opportunities to engage with thought leadership and grow:
– attending continuing education classes, seminars, or events
– developing new skills: there are multiple online and local courses available like LinkedIn Learning or at your library
– participating in industry networking groups
– actively posting on LinkedIn or starting a blog to demonstrate you’re in the fold
– taking a freelancing gig: there are opportunities posted on the usual freelance sites or new companies like The Mom Project
– volunteering: most volunteers experiences will keep you connected to your network and grow your skills. Check out Taproot or local organizations where you can leverage your professional skills and develop new ones!
All of this effort demonstrates your ability to prioritize, your growth mindset, and maintain a work-life balance.
4 – Keep in touch with mentors and peers. Asking advice is one of the most powerful leadership skills. By staying in touch with your mentors and peers, they can give you insight about how the workplace is evolving and give you advice. Also, when you’re ready to take on your next career position, they may be your best connection to land that dream job.
5 – Hire a coach. When you’re ready for your next career move, hire a career coach that can be an unbiased guide through the current job search and interviewing process.
This is your life. Make the best choices for you, your family, and your career. Don’t focus on horror stories from the past but visualize what the future can hold for you! You can have it all!