For anyone who is considering taking time out of the workforce to raise a family, several questions might be playing on your mind... What impact will an absence have on my career path? Will I still be offered the same opportunities to advance my career? Can I be a parent and have a career too?
These days it can be pretty difficult to make financial headway in life without the benefit of multiple income streams. So if you want to plan a family as well, that usually means that one parent will be required to take some time off when their child is born, and so they may be out of the work-force for a short period of time. If you’re planning on being absent between 3 months and a year, then it is unlikely that things will have changed that much in your industry or profession, so on returning it is probably not going to be that difficult to pick-up where you left off. For many you will be able to apply for parental leave, so your role (or an equivalent role) is protected by law until your return.
But if you have resigned your job completely and have been out of the work-force for longer than a year – then the situation can often be viewed differently by a potential employer; and maybe you are feeling a little vulnerable that you may not be seen as an attractive employment option compared with someone who hasn’t taken time out.
As in any situation, if you feel confident, you project that confidence to other people. So obviously if you don’t feel confident, then you are just as likely to project that as well. So how do you bridge that gap between the confidence you want to project and what you are really feeling inside? By practising!
It goes without saying that you present your cover letter (if required) and CV to a standard commensurate with the role you’re applying for. You should have already reviewed all your social media sites (including Linked In) to make sure details are current, and that they display no material (or activities) that could put-off potential employers (yes they do look!).
Once you have landed an interview, practise typical interview questions. Consider the full range of activities you have been involved with while not in paid work. If you have kept abreast of industry or profession trends, undertaken any study, become involved in community activities (especially any which include any aspects of governance or management); then relate these examples using the same language (words and phrases) that the potential employer will understand. Use the job description and role advertisement as clues for the type of skills and experience questions they’ll ask. The language of the job description in particular is key, adopt the same style for your interview scenarios.
Create a number of scenarios which relate your skills at managing different situations; practise talking about your attributes and skills until you feel confident in your delivery. You need to be able to put forward a compelling story of your personal growth combined with the new skills you have learned since being out of the paid work-force; as well as being able to speak confidently of the roles and responsibilities that you held before you took time off. Ideally a mix of scenarios is best – too much of one or the other may leave some questions in the mind of the interviewer as to why all your responses were either all about ‘my family time’ or all about ‘my prior work’…
To manage a home, family and career takes usually take the combined efforts of more than one person – so rather than think you have to do it all yourself – think how you might share the responsibilities. If you don't buy into having to do it all yourself - then absolutely it's possible to enjoy a successful career and have a family too. However you may have to compromise of some aspects of being 'in control'. It's a given your partner should support your career choice as well - that might mean they take a very equal (if not greater) role in managing the household - that may also mean you need to let go of those aspects and let them manage the household how they choose - even if different to your own standards... It may also mean you might not be the primary carer of your children anymore, and that may mean you miss some milestones. These are just some of the compromises - if you are OK with these to start with then yes the world is indeed your oyster....
The key is to project confidence, even faking it until you make it is OK! Remember that the extra dimension of parenthood is an asset in your growth as a human being; it teaches compassion, trust, patience and humility – which is to name just a few of the traits of successful managers and leaders!
If you need some help planning your next career move, then give me a call!