Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Learn some workplace attitude

I love CareerMums. It is my passion and my business. I speak to wonderful women every day who are inspiring, intelligent and resourceful. Which is why I am continually perplexed at the stories of workplace mistreatment of women returning to work. Why is it that many women, after returning to work after parental leave, put up with so much crap in the workplace? Many of us accept lesser roles for lesser pay. We feel 'grateful' for being allowed to come back to work again. We get the run-around from recruiters who don't know what flexibility means.

Think about it like this - what would you do if your child was being bullied at school? You would act. You would try to turn a wrong into a right. Why don't we feel this way about our own challenges?

My favourite saying is 'feel the fear and do it anyway'. Always challenge yourself and your capabilities. After having children, this should be an automatic response for women everytime.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Are you happy with your job?

Many parents who have returned to work are no longer satisfied with their career. Career can sometimes play second fiddle to the demands of raising a family, or perhaps your career path has flat lined because you have decided to return to work part time.

If you are happy with your career and the choices you have made, that's great. You absolutely have to be happy with your situation. For those that aren't, you can change the story. Start thinking about doing a health check on your career.

Some tips to get started:

- Talk to your manager if you have been doing the same job for a long period of time and you are dissatisfied. Create a change for yourself.
- Make sure you apply for suitable internal jobs that match your experience. If a full-time person is required, build a case for job sharing. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
- Also, make sure that your salary is in line with salaries being offered for similar roles in the job market. Refer to online jobs boards, newspapers, or talk to a recruiter. If your salary is below average, put forward a case to your employer.

You are skilled and experienced. More than likely, you have invested time and money in educating yourself. Start talking and be heard.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How long do you take off?

Unfortunately, you may as well be asking ‘How long is a piece of string?’ because only you can decide how long to take off. You know yourself and your child better than anyone, and therefore what would work best. Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks. What do you honestly feel would work for you and your family?

Hopefully the fact that there is no ‘right’ answer comes as somewhat of a relief. But if you’re still ‘anguishing’ ... to help you think through possible contributing factors, here’s a few questions you may like to consider for your individual situation. From there you can create an action plan to help you make your decision.

- How much time do you want / need to spend with your baby?
- Are you breastfeeding – how long do you envisage (roughly) you will breastfeed for?
- Is breastfeeding / expressing at work something you’re comfortable with?
- What type of care (aside from you) are you comfortable using for your baby?
- Are you emotionally, physically and mentally ready for a return to work?
- What level of responsibility / authority do you have at work – and therefore what would be a reasonable length of time to be on leave?
- What’s your financial situation – do you need your income?
- Are flexible work arrangements openly supported and encouraged? What are your partner’s expectations?
- Are you communicating regularly with your partner about your feelings and expectations regarding returning to work?
- Does your partner share the same responsibilities of parenthood and housework?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Returning to work and self doubt

I spoke to a lovely woman today who is looking to return to work. Her daughter is 8 months old. After a few minutes of chatting with her, we narrowed on on the main obstacle to her finding a great job - self doubt.

Some critical things we spoke about were:
- letting all of her network (social and work) know that she is looking for a job
- Understanding her skills and what she is good at
- Being clear on flexibility requirements
- Not talking about your children at a job interview - apart from the flexibility discussion
- Knowing that parenthood is so much harder than any task a manager will give her

Apart from getting your self confidence back on track, you need to also think about child care options, child care costs, drop off and pick up, sharing domestic duties etc etc.

What I can share from my experience is that within a week of returning to work (after my first child), I wondered why I had spent so much time doubting my abilities. In fact, I returned to work as an even more productive employee.

Give yourselves a break and enjoy the new challenge of finding a good job that ticks your important boxes.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Sharing parental responsibilities

In over 60 per cent of Australian households, both parents work.

Sharing the responsibility of raising children is critical to achieving a satisfying work and family balance. Both parents are responsible for children they bring into the world. If one parent in a two working parent household is solely responsible for child rearing, pick-up and drop-off, cleaning, and preparing meals, in addition to maintaining their career and supporting their family financially, it can create an unsatisfactory, unbalanced home environment.

A good starting point is to write down all the chores and domestic duties that need to be performed throughout the week. Make sure you include the drop-off and pick-up times for the kids at child care or school.

Talk to your partner about how you can divide these responsibilities. If necessary, create a weekly calendar so family members know what their responsibilities are. If the children are old enough, assign chores to them. Other ideas are pre-cooking meals for the week on the weekends, and hiring a cleaner once every two weeks.

Loving and respecting one another’s life challenges and sharing parental responsibilities will create a more happy and harmonious home environment and loving partnership.

If you are a single parent juggling work and family, you are amazing. If you don’t have a full-time partner to help you, search for networks or associations for single parents in your community. There may be opportunities to assist each other with before and after school care, for example.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What you need to know about the changes to employment law

In January 2010, the Federal Government will introduce the National Employment Standards. Two out of the 10 Standards are of direct interest to working parents.

They include:
- Parental leave: Employees will have the ability to request a second 12 months of unpaid leave, so 24 months in total. Currently it is only 12 months.

- Right to request flexibility: An employee who is a parent of or has responsibility for a child under school age can request flexible working hours. An employer may refuse on 'reasonable business grounds'. The request and refusal must be in writing and provide reasons.

For more information, view the following web page: http://www.careermums.com.au/content/uk_experience_flexibility

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Be proactive about your career progression

A common fear for parents when they return to work is that they may be sidelined for promotion or somewhat marginalised because they work. Your fears might be real or perceived; the only way to find out is to ask. Yes, ask.

The reality is if you don’t have confidence in your own capability, you can’t expect others to. If you don’t have an idea of your career direction you can’t expect others to create it for you.

In other words, no one can give you confidence or develop your career for you, you need to nurture and develop it yourself (leaning on others for input and support when required). It’s about harnessing your strengths and drawing on your experiences so you can put your best foot forward whether it’s about negotiating a pay rise, the next promotion, or flexible work arrangements. If you undersell yourself and your capability, you not only do yourself a disservice, you effectively permit other people to stereotype you or discriminate against you. Your level of job satisfaction is likely to take a nose drive.

Be proactive and review your career plan, discuss options with your manager, partner and other relevant people to support your continued learning and development. If you are focused on the next career promotion, be upfront, so your manager knows your intentions and aspirations rather than leaving them to guess or assume.