With our so-called agile, flexible, forward-thinking business community, it’s astonishing that we haven’t been able to effectively tap into the ‘mum’ workforce.

Returning to work after maternity leave

Here’s a recent example. Two mums – both having worked successfully in one of the world’s leading tech companies – had their children and, after their maternity leave, wanted to come back on a part-time basis. Both mothers, aware of each other’s similar requirements, identified a role in the organisation that they could job share and were more than qualified to do. It seemed like a match made in heaven; they could keep developing their careers, parent their children before and after childcare, and nurture their self-worth. The business would have two highly skilled and dedicated employees, loyal and experienced, to help develop the workforce.

Each mum presented a proposal to the organisation which included rotations as well as extra advantages for it, such as flexibility to cover each other with sick and holiday leave, etc. The organisation – one known for being a self-pronounced world leader in workplace environment and benefits – quickly knocked back the proposal, as the executives couldn’t comprehend the value in having these well-qualified mums job share a management role.

This is just one example of many I have come across, and it’s not because job sharing or part-time work hasn’t been available for many years – it doesn’t appear to be encouraged in career-focused roles.

My own experience as a mum

I was lucky to have been able to keep my ‘hand in’ with my chosen career path when I had my children. I could work in my role during school hours, as well as having the flexibility to work from home during the school holidays.

However, this was more than 15 years ago, when the mobile phone was a brick and a 54k modem was a thing. I can’t tell you how great it felt to have a job that was meaningful and contributed to the growth of the business. My colleagues were supportive and, because of their dedication to the company and each other, I never wanted to let them down. I wanted to remain a valuable member of the team, and I often worked more hours than expected. There were numerous times when I sat at sports grounds after school, tapping away on my laptop as I waited to be my children’s ‘taxi’.

It’s also important to note that this was when permanent part-time had only just started, with ‘casual’ status being the norm for many women in part-time work. This meant mums weren’t being paid any superannuation or given any other benefits like paid leave.

The company I was fortunate enough to work for wasn’t a new breed either. In fact, it had been around for more than 90 years. It was the forward-thinking management and leadership that helped. Everyone was a winner. I was paid a pro rata salary commensurate for the role and hours, had the flexibility for the children, enjoyed the work, was successful and stayed with the organisation for more than seven years.

The work environment today

Today, it’s difficult to understand why there isn’t a united business community willing to tap into this amazing resource of working mothers. It’s not like we don’t have the technology or a strong culture of KPIs to measure performance.

So what’s the problem? Is there still an underlying question of trust, or is it the lack of understanding of how to develop a strong job-share program?

I certainly hope it’s not down to the thinking that you lose capability once you become a mum. The skills you learn while carrying out arguably the toughest but most rewarding role, teaches you many skills that can’t be learnt from trusty Google or your colleagues.

Patience, tolerance, understanding, empathy, just to name a few, are the skills you learn from having children – not to mention time management, decision-making and listening skills. They would all be attributes sought by any recruiter.

And how often do businesses look to get another set of eyes on a problem or an idea? In the case of job sharing you have fresh eyes across the role permanently, as well as the opportunity to nurture a culture of real collaboration.

Surely, we can think beyond massages, free food and gym memberships as benefits to attract great employees. I would argue that flexibility, collaboration, empathy and ultimately better communities are stronger benefits, and just some of the reasons to tap into one of the best resources that is currently underused because of stagnated thinking.

Raeleen Hooper is the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for Snap Print, Design and Websites.

At some point in her life every woman who wants children will face a life-changing decision: have kids, take a break from work, and later get back to pursuing her career, or have children and commit herself entirely to the family life. Both options are OK, as long as you are doing what makes you happy. However, for the former type of mothers, going back to work can be a lengthy and demanding process, filled with doubt and even desperation.

That is because many stay-at-home mothers are not always fully committed to job hunting. They are either too scared of going out there and sharing with friends and family that they’re looking to get back in employment, or they think that the household will crumble without them being present 24/7. However, both of these are attitudes that all mums, who have thought about going back to work, have to shake off. So, if you’re worried that your home will wallow in chaos without your touch, you’re wrong. From baby sitters, who’ll take care of the kids, to cleaning services to keep your house neat and tidy, nowadays you can get all the help you need with everything house-related, so why worry? Instead, focus on the matter at hand–namely, finding yourself a new, fulfilling job. Here are few tips on how to get you going.

1. Find Out What Is It That You Like

The most important thing to do when looking for a job is to find something that you actually like doing. That will motivate you to persist until you have accomplished your goal. So, what do you like? Don’t be afraid to admit that during the time you’ve spent home, taking care of your child, your interests have changed. So continuing your career from where you left off might not be on the table anymore. That is quite normal.

The best way to figure out what would be the next step for you is to volunteer in the field you take interest. That way you can gain a better understanding of what to expect. Connecting with people from these areas would help you immensely. You can pick their brains and ask them all that might be of use to your future career development.

2. Keep Your Connections and Make New Ones

Once you find out your possible career path, it is time you start meeting the right people. Nowadays, you could easily look up a former colleague or a friend who works in your chosen field through Facebook or LinkedIn, and network with them. But bear in mind that face-to-face interaction is what really counts, so try meeting in person.

Don’t be afraid to admit that during the time you’ve spent home, taking care of your child, your interests have changed. So continuing your career from where you left off might not be on the table anymore. That’s quite normal.

3. Update Your Resume and Skills

Dig up your old resume and give it an overhaul. Yes, the gap in your work experience might seem compelling, so the key to success is communicating how that time off helped YOU grow. So, for one, try thinking of the skills you gained during the time out of work. If you have volunteered in that time – great, focus on that.

Another aspect of your resume rebirth is updating your technical skills. Technology is evolving fast, so there is a good chance that you’ve missed on some important innovations while you’ve been away. The way to catch up on what’s new and relevant is to look up some job descriptions and see what employers require.

4. Tell a Friend

As mentioned earlier, keeping the job hunt on the low is not helping your cause at all. Studies show that as high as 70% of all jobs are found through the good old networking. Needless to say, the more people know what you’re up to, the bigger chance you have someone will help you out and get you in touch with the right people. Talk to friends, family, and acquaintances, and let them know what is it that you’re looking for.

5. Interviews

The thing most people on the job market dread the most. But it is what it is and you cannot do anything about it, except for practising and preparing the best you can. Look on the bright side, if you’ve made it all the way up to an interview, there must be something in you that has appealed to your potential employer. What comes next is convincing the interviewer that you are the person they should hire.

I know it is a bit of a cliché, but try not to think about the pressure, and stay calm. The best way to stay calm is preparation. The more sure you are in your abilities, the better you’ll do at the interview. Start by digging as much information you possibly could on the company you are applying for and the person who’ll interview you. Also, make a list of all questions you’d like answers to.

During the interview, you have to be confident, so put your game face on and don’t show signs of nervousness. As the saying goes, ‘fake it til’ you make it’. To that end, try doing a few mock interviews with your spouse or better yet, with a friend who is in the line of work you’re going for.

6. Be Adaptable

If you have decided to take up something entirely new to you, something you have absolutely no experience in, don’t be surprised if you’re offered a lower position or salary. That’s normal and you shouldn’t feel that your personality and skills are overseen. Don’t be discouraged and stay positive. After all, this is only the beginning of your new career.

Featured Photo Credit: Pixabay

MargaretMargaret Swanton is a marketing associate at Fantastic Cleaners Sydney (http://www.fantasticcleanerssydney.com.au/), and is enthusiastic on topics regarding marketing trends and the media, as well as success stories about the progress and growth of women in business.