Reentering the workforce after recently becoming a mom can seem like a monumental task—especially when the job market is competitive. Adjusting to the new challenges of motherhood on its own is a huge change, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed when it’s time to begin a job search in earnest. However, there are some concrete steps you can take to improve your job search as you navigate the dual role of mother and job seeker.
Be Honest About Your Resume Gap
Hiring managers often see significant gaps between jobs as a red flag—there are countless reasons for an employment gap, and employers might jump to conclusions as they sift through the dozens (and often hundreds) of resumes received for a single role. A simple recommendation is introducing a clear and direct line somewhere near the top of the resume explaining that the gap was taken to care for a young child. This will pre-empt any negative assumptions a hiring manager might make when assessing your resume.
Many job seekers start their search with strict parameters in mind—a specific salary range, functional role, or level of authority, for example. However, the unfortunate truth is that most hiring managers will see a gap as a negative. While you should always aim for roles that fit your current career stage, a little flexibility can give you an edge over similarly-qualified candidates.
Lying about anything in an interview is a risk. Even if you sense that the hiring manager is biased against parents, any lie you tell will likely be exposed by the time you’ve been hired, which can be a fatal blow as you try to build a reputation in your new role and organization. Moreover, if an employer comes off as hostile to parents, it’s probably a sign that the company’s culture won’t be a good fit for you.
Don’t Make Excuses
All employees have personal obligations, and most employers won’t bat an eye if you have children—after all, many hiring managers and executives are parents themselves! However, if you constantly use your child or children as an excuse for tardiness or scatterbrained tendencies, you’ll be putting yourself in a bad position. Whether you’re in the early interview stage or establishing yourself in a new role, don’t use your kids as an excuse. Rather, be honest about time management issues you might be having and work with leadership to resolve the issue.
Don’t Make Sacrifices You aren’t Comfortable With
In a competitive job market, it’s tempting to take the first role you receive an offer for. However, especially as a young parent, you have to ask yourself if the company’s culture, expectations, and requirements will be compatible with your new role as a parent. It can be a lot harder to leave a bad job early than it is to tough out the job search a little longer if you can afford to wait for the right role.
Search for Companies with Family-Friendly Work Policies
Work from home. Flex scheduling. Empathetic management. These aren’t just buzzwords—these are perks that can make it dramatically easier to manage your competing parental and professional duties. Lots of companies showcase their flexibility with employees, often in an effort to lure in talent. Flexible start-ups aren’t just for people right out of school—they can also be a great place to find the flexibility needed to transition back into the workforce.
During the interview process, this is your chance to ask about company culture, including how the organization works with employees who are also parents. During an interview, you’re gauging the organization as much as they’re assessing you. Some questions that might provide you with some critical insights include “Are there many parents on your staff currently?” or “Is your organization flexible—within reason—when it comes to parents and their responsibilities to their children?”
Do Your Research
Don’t let the hiring manager have the final say—do your due diligence and research the company! Search through Glassdoor reviews and browse the company’s website to see how their policies can support young parents while also looking out for reviews from other parents employed by the same organization.
Especially as a new parent, benefits are critical, whether it’s healthcare, parental leave policies, or other potential perks that companies offer to attract and retain talent. Some employers might offer healthcare coverage, but will it also extend to your dependents? Will you be able to take time off to spend time with your children and go on trips or vacations? These are critical questions to ask before you accept any offer.
As Client Success Manager at Employment BOOST, Ryan leads client service strategy, onboarding, and customer experience across both B2B and B2C segments for the firm. Ryan is responsible for ensuring all outplacement recipients receive transformational service through Employment BOOST Outplacement, guiding synergies between executive search, career services, and market research. Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW).