Sunday, February 19, 2012

Losing Sight of What You Really Want

By Kate Sykes, Director of

Last week, I was tasked with recruiting for a part time Administrator role in Sydney. We had over 90 applications! The process of culling applications is a difficult one. Some resumes simply haven't been tailored to suit an administration role. For example, if all of your experience relates to graphic design work, it makes it diffciult to be shortlisted. others simply did not have the required experience requested by the client.

I am not a recruiter that penalises people for taking time out to look after children so this was not a big issue.

The next stage was phone screening. Talking to people on the phone is an interesting exercise. If you lack enthusiasm, knoweldge of the administrative duties required of the role, or can't remember the role you applied for (because you have applied for so many), it makes it difficult to be shortlisted.

I finally shortlisted six candidates. They were a mix of mums returning to work, mums already working and some older women who were looking to transition from full time work to part time.

While talking to one of the six candidates, we came to the agreement on the phone that this role was actually not for her. Why? This candidate was used to more senior consultant roles, but having not worked in these types of roles for 8 years, she felt that she had to start somewhere. And that somewhere was lower in skill and pay.

This is a common challenge. My immediate advice to her was to not settle for second best. Over her 'family years' this candidate had worked in 2 part time roles, published cook books, and more. She had shown incredible endurance and resilience in taking on various work related projects and roles while raising her young children.

My advice is this: If you want to return to the workplace in roles that you worked in pre-children, get busy with contacting past colleagues, managers, clients etc. Network at local business events. Attend workshops or conferences to find out more about employment opportunities. There is a skills shortage, so if you think you still have it (and want it), go for it. You will not only feel better in yourself for pursuing your career goals, but you will also be teaching your children some valuable lessons in life.

Next week: Preparing yourself for interviews.


Donna said...

Thanks for this very insightful post. Its also very timely, as I am starting to search for a part time role but have been casting my net wide, hoping to land "anything".

The only thing that makes it trickier for me, and likely many others, is that its hard when you live in a smaller community to be picky. But it does resonate about your advice. Many thanks!

Neen said...

Great post - I'm in a similar position. I think the true challenge is in finding roles at my old level that are part time - they just don't seem to exist. So that leaves me looking at lower level positions that fit in with my kids.

Karen Miles said...

Great article Kate - I'm trying to return to the work place after running my own busines for 12 years while having my children.

I would love part-time work however, my barriers to entry are that I'm making a slight career transition compared with my resume, there's a lack of part-time roles advertised, and it's a highly competitive industry (more people than jobs, and people willing to do anything to get in), so I have been looking at roles below my skill level which leaves me feeling 'wasted' in terms of my potential.

It's so tricky - my head is playing loop the loop!

Thank you for your advice and thoughts on the issue.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great post and I hope it encourages lots of other readers (certainly helped me)! I am looking for alternative part-time employment at the moment and need to keep reminding myself that I am skilled, well-respected and have achieved a lot both pre and post baby. So, I shouldn't sell myself short (nor should other amazing Mums)!

Cheers Sarah

Susan said...

This is the predicament I find myself in currently. After being groomed ready to be slotted into an executive role (employer paid for post grad tuition fees), motherhood beckoned. Fast forward 8years, 2 children later, with my youngest just turning 2 I felt that if I excused myself from the working world any longer, doors would shut. So I applied for a public sector role, part time (2 days a week, flexi time); the downside? I'm at the same classification level with which I began my public sector career in 1993! It has been 13 months now, and I'm starting to wonder if I should just suck it up, or resign, or look for something else slightly more in keeping with my credentials/capacity??