Thursday, June 2, 2011

Share your story: Negotiating flexibility before and during parental leave

CareerMums is co-writing a book for parents returning to work. It will be published by Penguin later in the year. Here is your chance to share your experience and tips via our blog. We need career mums to provide comments on the following topics:

1. Did you have an idea of how and when you wanted to return to work before going on parental leave, and then change your mind while on parental leave? How did you negotiate what you wanted with your employer and how did it turn out?

2. Tell us about your experience with negotiating flexibility before going on parental leave. How did the conversation go, and how did it turn out?

Please send us your comments via our blog.

Thanks for your time!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit different in that I stayed home for 15 years before returning to work. I got into teaching at university when I went back when my youngest was 10. First for just a day a week and just kept on building up my hours as the kids got older. This last year I have been trying to get back into private industry as my university teaching was only casual and my husband left. It has been a humbling experience trying to get back in. You are not a graduate, your experience is generally perceived as being so long ago as to be irrelevant ( I was told this), yet you are not experienced enough to get a senior role, they are worried you will get bored because you are too smart ( it's a compliment I suppose but I would have preferred a job) and in my case I was seen as an academic with my teaching experience. My under graduate uni friend told me you don't get jobs from ads it's from who you know. And there lies the rub.

It has taken me 6 months of applications but I have a job. How did I get it well it was through a contact of course. Someone who knew me a little bit, knew I was determined, would work hard, had good communication skills etc. All those things the employment consultants say they want in the advertisement. Don't believe it.

My worst moments have been at the hands of employment consultants ( mind you I don't think all of them are bad but there are some doozies out there). One guy told me I would "find it pretty difficult to get an job in my field as my experience was irrelevant because it was too long ago." Gee thanks for the advice. Another job that I was told to apply for and didn't get (which is ok), I find out from the potential employer a month later, that when they asked the consultant if any anyone like me had applied ( it was quite specific)as they were interested in employing more women, the consultant said no. I had applied. I don't know if these people were lazy or incompetent. From this I learnt that if you know who the company is and who the contact is send your application to them as well. I dithered about this and decided not to. Ooops big mistake.

So my advice to those mums trying to get back in to their profession after having kids is:
1. Don't leave it too long even if it is only one day a week once the kids start school.
2. Make sure your daughters get a qualification so that if the marriage breaks up (50% do) they have the potential to get a reasonable paying job.
3. Don't give up. I sent every application off with hope ( I'm definitely a glass half full sort of person). If I hadn't got the current job I would have just kept on trying. I started out on Plan A. I figure I'm at about Plan H but was prepared to go to Z and then start all over again.
4. Get some help with resumes and cover letters. I know I tended to play down my skills. One lovely employment consultant (a returning to work mum of course) told me that you have to tart it up because that is what everyone does. So do it.
5. Get some extra skills. I taught myself some software packages. I had just started a Cert IV when I got this job.
6. Get back networking, join professional associations, go to meetings. It's what guys do all the time.
7. Contact anyone you have ever known and see if they know of any potential work opportunities.
8. Be prepared to start at the bottom. One lady told me that even after only 5 years out she had to start at the bottom but she figured that if she was competent she'd eventually just float to the top.

good luck