Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mum's the word

Has anyone noticed that when you become a mum, no one seems to ask you about your professional life anymore? How could you possibly be a parent and have another interest in your life?

Let's stick together. Next time you are at a social function, make a point of asking the person you are talking to about their career and interests outside of family.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Overcoming a lack of self confidence before returning to work

Daily, the issue of women losing their self confidence while away from the workforce perplexes me. Don't get me wrong - I understand it because it happenened to me. But after my 2rd child, this issue no longer consumed me. Probably because I had gone back to work each time and found that feeling insecure about returning to the workforce was a waste of head space. What I found (post babies) is that the workforce is full of time wasters. I discovered that my contribution was so much more valuable - even in a part time capacity. And you don't lose your skills; on the contrary, they are enhanced.

The other angle to this problem is how confident we can become as parents, and why this confidence is not transferred to the challenge of returning to work. How can we be so confident and responsible for the lives of little human beings, but crumble when it comes to talking to an adult about a job? Think about it.

I have the benefit of hindsight now. Here are my tips to maintain your self confidence:
- Talk to your manager before you go on leave about returning to work flexibly
- Stay in touch with work - go for lunch with your colleagues, attend team meetings etc.
- Read publications related to your industry - keep up with the terminology
- Ensure lots of adult conversation if you are a full time carer
- Take time to write down your non-paid work and your achievements as a carer for your resume
- Know what you are good at and what you are worth

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Are you getting knock-backs from employers?

If you have been out of the job market for a while, it may take a while for you to become workplace savvy again. If you are getting knock-backs from employers, consider the following advice:

- Re-visit your resume. Employers have been known to bin resumes that don’t appeal to them or whose information does not look relevant to the role they are advertising.

- Re-think the employers you are targeting. Maybe they are not family friendly.

- Perhaps you are exhibiting a lack of confidence. Talk to your family and friends about what you said in the interview or to the recruiterand get some feedback. You may need reinforcement that you are great!

- Don't talk about your family siutation in a job interview. You are there to demonstrate your suitability to the position you have applied for. Be clear about your skills and how your experience is relevant to the position.

Traps mums face when going back to work

- Don't be grateful for part time work. You only get paid for part time hours.
- Know what you are worth. Don't accept a pay cut just to get back into the workplace. Know your skills and your value proposition.
- Be clear upfront about your flexibility requirements. Stand your ground so the job will be suitable for the long run.
- Generally, recruiters are not very good with handling return to work parents because they prefer to fill full time roles. Visit CareerMums to get some ideas on how to find a flexible job.
- Don't discuss your family in the job interview. You are being interviewed for your suitability to the role so focus on that.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The stages of a working parent

Last night, I was talking to my friend about her job/career. After the arrival of her second child she took on an a less challenging role. But the role offered flexibility and not much stress.

Recently, she had her performance review. She had a pained look on her face so I thought there was bad news to follow. Quite the contrary. It was a glowing report with a small pay rise (rare in the current economic environment).

The problem is that she now feels confident in juggling the children and work (not really a problem!)and is in search of a more challenging role that matches her skills, experience and expertise. She wants career progression, not career maintenance, and wants to be paid what she earned pre-children. And I know she will get both. She is one smart woman.

What does all of this mean?

For working parents, you may or may not hit the fast button again. If you decide to, go for it.

For employers and managers, keep up the lines of communication. Talent retention is becoming harder to achieve these days.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Always ask prospective or current employers about workplace policies

Did you know that astute women in the early 20's now ask prospective employers about their parental leave and flexible work arrangements policies before they agree to work there?

I certainly didn't - and I am 35 (not too old!). 15 years ago, I was not thinking about having a family and there was little or no talk in the media about workplace flexibility. Women are now more aware of their rights, obligations, and their valuable contribution to the workforce.

Don't be concerned about 'putting off' a prospective by asking these questions. It is far better to know upfront if they are a flexible and family friendly employer.

These questions will be alot easier to ask when you are confident in your own abilities and skills, and you can confidently demonstrate how your skills and experience match the role you are applying for.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mums and recruiters

Beware recruiters! If you want to be taken seriously when you re-enter the workforce, find a job yourself. This is my advice to parents returning to work after countless conversations and surveys.

Why is there such a disconnect?

Firstly, many recruiters are in their 20's and early 30's. Typically, they do not have a family yet so they have no understanding of the daily challenges you face when balancing work and family. Furthermore, they tend to be paid poorly and have a commission structure so it is all about a fast turn-around.

Secondly, most recruitment firms base their fees on a full time role so this reduces the likelihood of their clients advertising a part time role.

In general, recruiters are not equipped with information and advice for their clients on how to shape their future workforce - which includes offering more flexiblity to attract great talent.

Thankfully, we are starting to see a few boutique recruitment firms that place flexible roles such as such as

While you wait for recruitment firms to catch-up with the needs of the future workforce, consider the following options to find a job; let your network know you are looking for work, actively approach companies that you are interesting in working for, consider career change opportunities, and keep an eye out on CareerMums.

Monday, July 13, 2009

CareerMums in Canberra City News

MEGAN HAGGAN discovers that employers will need to adapt to more flexible working conditions with the introduction of the National Employment Standards in January.
EMPLOYERS will need to become more flexible to accommodate the needs of working parents, says job search network founder Kate Sykes.
“In the workplace, employers are in one of two camps when it comes to flexibility – they are talking about it or doing it,” says Kate, director of the Canberra-based

Read on:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Get paid what you are worth

This week, I spoke to an employer about employing a mum to work part time. The role was credible and required experience. But the employer was keen to know if I thought it was accetable to offer the same rate as they would to a graduate - after all mums have been out of the worforce for a couple of years so they would probably be appreciative just to be paid.

WRONG. I very calmly responded that CareerMums encourages our users all the time to understand what they are worth and negotiate an even better rate based on their skills, experience, expertise, maturity and loyalty. And don't accept a cheaper rate because they are providing you with flexibility. It is a typical workplace arrangement and they will probably get more out of you than a full time worker.

I am amazed at the perception of a skilled worker once you become a mum. A good friend of mine and colleague, Karen Miles, once said that mums need a PR campaign to sit everyone in their place.

Parenthood enhances your skills and makes you a more tolerable, empathetic and organised person. And importantly, parenthood makes you less likely to suffer fools.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

CareerMums in SMH and The Age

Read the article on mums returning to work:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Redundancy advice

Our guest writer, Kate McCallum from MultiForte Financial Services, provides some advice on being made redundant:

"I just need some simple advice on my redundancy payout," said Julie when she contacted us a few weeks ago. An experienced senior manager in her mid 40s, she had been with a large blue chip organisation for more than 12 years when she was told that her role was to be made redundant.

For Kates, advice, visit: