Monday, December 17, 2007

Working tips for the christmas period

Christmas and new year is a great time to plan a return-to-work strategy or change your current work flexibility requirements. If you are returning to work, make sure you think about updating your resume (cover all of your non-paid work while on leave!), investigating short courses if your skills need fine turning, and communicating your return to work intentions to your family, friends and old work colleagues. Great leads often come from people you know. If you are currently working and you are going to need more flexible working hours to manage work and family, start preparing a business case for your manager. The business case should consider items such as working hours, work that will be performed at home versus the office, and how clients needs will be affected. Early next year, you should meet with your manager to discuss your needs. If it is a fair and reasonable request, you may have a good chance in getting what you want. The national skills shortage is getting worse so employers are willing to explore flexible work options to retain good employees.

The importance of referees

You have submitted a great resume that demonstrates your suitability to the advertised role. You are then called in for one or more interviews and they love you. Only one thing left - a reference check. Even at this point, your referees can potentially damage your chances of getting the job. Consider the following to ensure your referees don't shut down your employment opportunity:

1. Choose your referees wisely. Ideally, your referees should be able to provide your prosective employer with a character reference and feedback on your performance in the workplace.

2. If you have some great referees, and you have moved on from their employment, keep in regular contact with them. Every 6 months, touch base with them. Find out if they are still happy to be a reference for you. It is common courtesy.

3. If you manage to get an interview with a prospective employer and it goes well, give your referee a call to let them know that their services may be required.

4. If you have been out of the workforce for over 2 years, think about other potential referees you could add to your existing referees. For example, have you done any volunteering or charity work during this time? Have you been on a committee (for example, a school committee)? Have you been in casual employment?

5. Your friends and family should not be your referees. They are naturally biased and will not provide a fair assessment of your work performance or character.

Tips for working mums who breastfeed

More and more workplaces are now providing lactation breaks and rooms for mothers who are still breastfeeding. Admittedly, these workplaces are generally larger companies who also provide a child care on site for their staff. If you work for a small to medium sized business that does not have a child care centre on site, you will need to weigh up your options. If your child care is located not far from you work, have a chat to your manager about lactation breaks. Think ahead, and propose a game plan with your manager that will benefit your and the business. It will only be for a short period of time. The other options available to you are expressing milk into bottles for the day, or returning to work after you have stopped breastfeeding. For more information on breastfeeding and the workplace, visit

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Top 10 tips for mums wanting to start a business

More and more mums are deciding to take up the challenge of running their own business. Find out what you need to know to get started.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Interview Skills

Getting a job interview after being out of work for a while can be exciting and frightening at the same time! If you are feeling nervous, start focusing on some simple tasks that will prepare you for the interview. Google the employer and prepare some questions for them about their business activities. Read the job description again – be clear on how your skills match the requirements of the role. Always talk positively about yourself. Try talking about yourself in the mirror and see how many nice things you can say about yourself. Get a new outfit. Looking good and feeling good about yourself go hand in hand. Above all, make sure you interview the prospective employer about their flexible workplace policies, career advancement opportunities, and how they measure and compensate performance. After all, the job interview is just as much about whether you want to work for them. If the interview is unsuccessful, ask for feedback. You may receive some useful tips for the next interview.

Do you have any win win tips you can share?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Prepare for parental leave and reap rewards

Providing support and tools to help employees’ better plan and prepare for parental leave is increasingly recognised by employers as a critical part of encouraging and enabling parents to return to work.

Previously employers focused their attention on providing employee benefits such as subsidised childcare and financial incentives to lure parents back to work, however, these ‘benefits’ are often not provided to employees until after the parental leave has commenced or once they have already returned to work.

“Until recently, little support has been offered to engage expectant parents to consider their return to work options prior to going on leave,” says Emma Walsh, Director of mums@work. We’re working with a handful of progressive organisations who are thinking carefully about how they can assist their employees and managers to prepare for parental leave in advance.”

The crucial difference between the conventional parental leave benefits offered by employers is an organisation’s ability to develop an improved ‘follow up’ approach or ‘checking in’ process to assist the employee during pregnancy at work and consider their return to work options prior to parental leave. But it doesn’t stop there. During the parental leave absence, these employers are working hard to help the employee stay connected to the organisation; making returning to work a smoother transition for both employee and manager.

“At Westpac we are about to launch a whole new series of parental support programs aimed at helping expectant parents plan for leave and for those who have returned to work to feel more supported on an ongoing basis” says Kristen Houghton, HR Manager, BT/Westpac.

Upon returning to work, organisations such as Westpac are developing parent forums that focus on helping employees manage their career and family life as a working parent and advise what additional support is available to enable work life balance.

The transition from work to motherhood is often underestimated. “Smart companies and managers know that to retain top female talent you need to support women through the head and heart transition into motherhood and back into the workforce,” says Karen Miles, speaker and author on the topic of motherhood and its impact on women’s careers and identity. “Parenting is a tough gig and companies who recognise that a happy and supported person is a high performing, loyal employee will retain staff, it’s a no brainer.”

Employers who are responsive towards meeting the needs of their working parents they are rewarded for their effort. Employers are reporting higher attraction and retention rates when comprehensive pre and post parental benefits are provided. These benefits include access to flexible work arrangements during pregnancy and upon return; the individual’s ability to proactively review their career plans with their manager and a coach pre and post leave; and the opportunity to network with other parents who have already returned to work and make a gradual return to work.

More information: To find out more about how about your organisation can help your employees prepare for parental leave develop pre and post parent support tools and forums contact Emma Walsh, Director, mums@work on 02 9966 1697 or email

Sunday, December 2, 2007

New CareerMums survey

This survey will take less than 1 minute to complete. It touches on challenges and barriers you have faced when returning to work, and your experience in dealing with recruitment firms. CareerMums is always interested in understanding the issues and challenges parents face when returning to work. The aggregated results of our surveys are distributed to business groups and Government bodies. Simply go to the following web page and click on the survey link.Thank you.