If you’ve left the workforce to have children, the thought of going back can be quite daunting – especially if you’ve been out for a few years. Not only because of the huge change that comes with balancing work and family, but also because of the challenge of just getting back on to the career ladder. One recruiter has some novel advice for mums looking to find work post-kids.
Lie. Yep, that thing you probably spend a great deal of time and energy trying to get your kids not to do: fib, tell a porkie, dream up a tall tale. But it’s necessary to stave off the prejudice against new mums, says one expert.
Just Mums Recruitment director Rachel Perkins says mothers are discriminated against before they even get an interview because employers (wrongly) believe they will have lost skills or will be unreliable.
So, she says, mums should lie about their maternity leave on their CVs and say they’ve been travelling or studying to explain career absences. She tells the Herald Sun that many mums come to her saying they’ve been told by HR managers and other recruiters that writing “maternity leave” makes them less desirable. She cites one example of a mum told to change “caring for my special needs daughter” to “working in the special needs sector” on her resume.
“To devalue the experience of motherhood is incomprehensible to our team so this was a complete shock and utterly disappointing,’’ she says. “It is tough enough for working mothers to balance career and family and to source flexible work with a family friendly employer – surely we’re not now telling them to feel ashamed about taking time out to enjoy motherhood?”
Just last month, Power to Fly president Katharine Zaleski wrote an open letter of apology to all the mums she used to work with for how “horrible” she’d been before she had a child of her own. Among her list of admissions was staying silent in an interview where a woman was asked “how in the world” she would juggle three kids and a job.
The truth is that most mums returning to work probably are understandably nervous about industry changes and rusty skills (not to mention the interviews). But that certainly doesn’t mean they’re a risky hire. In fact, having managed and worked with plenty of mums, I can confidently say we are among the most studious, efficient, organised and reliable employees. By and large, we are there on time and yes, tend to leave on time – but we also work our butts off in the time we are there. (Plus we’re grateful for the ability to think more than one thought at a time and talk in complete sentences for eight hours a day.)
Did you face any discrimination when returning to work? Tell us below.