Being a mum can have benefits when looking for a new job

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock 

Leaving the workforce to have kids can have its benefits when it's time to look for a new job. While searching for a new job after a baby may be daunting, it needn't be.

Founder and chief executive officer of Career Money Life Sandy Hutchinson, said it was common for women to feel nervous when re-entering the workforce after taking time out to have children.

"You leave the work world behind for a period of time and enter a whole new space, called parenting. In itself, it can be incredibly challenging and impact on your self worth and confidence," Ms Hutchinson said.

But stepping away from paid work to raise children is not something to hide or be ashamed of.

"The first thing I would suggest is not to apologise for taking the time with your child, be upfront about it, how it has changed you, your priorities, your maturity and your patience," she said.

"Explain how this experience has helped you develop as a person, and how these new skills can be of value to the organisation you are joining. 

"For example, most working mothers I know, have learned to multi-task incredibly well, as well as becoming experts in forward planning, dealing with complexity, competing priorities, and unexpected challenges, like the dreaded call from the school nurse."

Women are great at building networks to help manage challenges and are also very productive at work as they have a "hard deadline to get home" each day. 

"These skills are all easily transferable into the workplace, managing and motivating people requires patience and maturity, seeing things from a different perspective, not putting yourself first, all things mothers learn in those early years," she said.

Advertisement

"The ability to focus on the job and avoid office politics is also a huge asset to any employer.

"As well, the networking skills that women develop can also be applied in the work context, building cross-functional teams, relationships with clients, and suppliers." 

While motherhood brings with it a new set of skills, it was vital women kept up-to-date with changes within their industry, considered taking courses to refresh existing skills or learn new ones.

Corporate image specialist Donna Cameron said there were many ways stay-at-home mums could help prepare themselves for heading back into the workforce, including becoming a member of an industry association or simply keeping in touch with ex-colleagues. 

"Listen to podcasts, TED talks or read articles. There are even free or inexpensive courses you can take online," Ms Cameron said.

"If you have time - volunteer. You may learn new skills doing this and you'll definitely meet new people.

"You may even wish to secure a small amount of freelance or part-time work in your field, or in another field altogether."

She said many women also gained, or strengthened a range of skills while being a parent and they should highlight those when applying for a new job. Skills include adaptability, time management, persuasion, collaboration, empathy, thinking outside the square, learning on the job, efficiency, time management, balancing priorities and problem solving.

But remember it's not just your skills that you need to update, it's also important to spend the time ensuring you look fresh and contemporary.

"You don't have to pretend you're 25 if you're not, in fact, this would read as inauthentic and lacking in confidence," she said.

"But you do need to dress with a nod to contemporary trends with a hairstyle too match.

 "People will judge you in around two seconds (we can't help it - we're programmed to quickly identify friend or foe). And presenting as someone who looks like they're in touch with 2019 and not 2009 will give you an edge."

Culture and leadership partner at Corporate Edge Louise Connor said women need to believe in their worth to the workplace and shouldn't underestimate their existing skills.

"Remember you have a terrific set of skills – yes, you might not have used them in a while, but you are of great value to the organisation you choose to work with," Ms Connor said.

"It is daunting coming back to the office, be it nine months or six years, however you don't lose the skills that got you that great career – you need to believe in yourself.

"Don't forget that you're still the same person you were before – you just have a new lens through which to view the world now."