In the years that my children were in grade school, I enjoyed getting to know the support people in their buildings – the custodial staff, the secretaries, the para-professionals – and it never ceased to amaze me how the two latter groups consisted, in large part, of former lawyers, accountants, and business executives.
Similarly, many of the women stacking shelves at our local Gap store and manning the counter at the spin and barre studios were former accomplished professionals, too.
The pull of a low-stress job and a school-hours or flexible schedule must be strong, I used to assume.
But I was wrong.
True, working the same hours as your children is convenient, and having a job that you don’t ‘take home’ with you at night and over weekends, has its advantages. However, I learned through two decades of coaching and placing these women that it wasn’t the schedule or the workload that drew them to these positions. It was the safety.
Most of the aspiring women-returners I’ve met in the last 20+ years arrived at my office already defeated. When, after having a child, they were faced with the “all or nothing” choice to work 60 hours a week, or quit and stay home, they chose the latter, leaving behind careers that they loved and becoming part of the female brain drain that plagued (and still plagues) the U.S. Then, when they’re ready to opt back into the workplace, résumé gaps and related biases have made it difficult for these women to land.
By the time they come to me – a kindred spirit, having been one of them myself – they are discouraged and fully expect rejection as ‘punishment’ for taking years off to raise their children. Which, of course, is ludicrous, and I get right to work helping them erase that narrative from their heads.
But in the heads of the ones who don’t come to me, that narrative is on a continuous loop. Many of them are now helping our kids in the classroom and signing us in to spin class because they settled for ‘safer’ jobs.
A 2015 Women in the Workplace study conducted by LeanIn.Org and management consulting firm McKinsey found that 43% of leadership-track women derail themselves for child rearing at some point; 90% of them with the intention of returning. These women should be assuming leadership roles, growing companies’ bottom lines, and changing workplace culture, yet many are stuck. They don’t know how to properly prepare for their career re-launches and they get quickly discouraged by early rejections.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Women-returners are unquestionably employable. Employers my partners and I polled consider them the best hiring demographic. I’ve personally witnessed hundreds – probably over 1,000 – of them find fulfilling work in my small corner of the world (Connecticut).
Some things make it easier, of course, like keeping up with industry trends, staying current with certifications and licensure, and maintaining relationships with old clients and co-workers. But even women with significant skill deficiencies and long-lapsed credentials can return to work successfully if they have these five things:
1 – realistic expectations based on thorough research and honest self-assessment
2 – a compelling résumé that meaningfully accounts for her opt-out years
3 – a commitment to remediating skill gaps on the job or through inexpensive means like online classes or local continuing education courses
4 – aggressive (not a popular word among women, but spot-on here) networking to get in front of connectors and hiring managers
5 – flexibility and the willingness to consider unconventional offerings like temporary projects or low-paying internships as a way to get a foot in the door.
The economy is improving. The labor market is tight. The voluntary quit rate is at a 17-year high. Employers are competing to hire good people. And, these days, you don’t have to be perfect to be ‘good people’.
Your gapped résumé, your ‘not entirely perfect’ experience, your application that meets only 60% of the job criteria, are all plenty good enough now.
So, if you are wistful for more challenge (and money) than your current job can provide; if you want to get back on the corporate track, but are playing it safe working for minimum wage; listen up. Your time at home was valuable; its impact will be long-lasting, but you have an opportunity now to take advantage of favorable economic timing and get back to the work that you really want to do. Go for it.
New Baby On The Way? Save Money on the Essentials
Now is the ideal time to get clever with your cash. How much does it cost to have a new baby? The price varies from couple to couple but every survey tells us that most of us spend more than we really need to. Of course, you want your little one to have the very best but the reality is that as long as they are warm, clean and fed babies are usually quite happy with their lot. Far too many of us spend too much money at a time when cash will be tight anyway. Some people even get into debt using expensive credit cards or personal loans to buy what they want for their new baby when most of the stuff will be outgrown in a few weeks or months. So, when it comes to the essentials there are some simple ways to save some cash. Baby clothes: Avoid over-buying When Kylie Jenner gave birth to her daughter this year, a video the Keeping Up With The Kardashians star released on YouTube revealed an entire wardrobe of baby clothes and racks of shoes already purchased before the child had even arrived in the world. If you’re looking to keep costs down for your little one then steer clear of this approach. Babies grow so quickly that cute onesies and expensive little outfits will soon be redundant. Instead, buy just the basics and sell on what you don’t need when your baby has grown out of it. If you want to get a headstart researching the right pram for you, check out the reviews featured on wifeknows.com Your clothes: Steer clear of the maternity wardrobe binge It’s very easy to spend thousands on a maternity wardrobe, as there is such a range of choice these days. However, the reality is that you’re only going to wear these clothes for a matter of months so there’s no need to go crazy. Try to wear your own clothes for as long as you can, adding layers or opting for stretchy fabrics to provide coverage. It’s also worth asking friends and relatives if they have any maternity wear they no longer need so you don’t have to spend money on new items. New Baby Kit: Buy the basics for the first few months It’s tempting to kit your home out with all the latest gadgets and tech for a new arrival. However, the reality is that all you really need is a cot and a car seat for the first few months. You may not even need to buy a pram initially. So, rather than splurging up front and realising that half of what you’ve purchased you just don’t need, hold back. That way you’ll be able to make better informed buying decisions when it comes to something like a pram and have more time to find the cheapest options. Food and supplies: Become a deals expert From discounts on baby items through to the deals available at your local supermarket, this is a great time to get interested in what’s on special. There are always discounts available for new parents, whether you’re looking for toys or clothes or diapers. Spend a little time researching where to find the lowest prices on the things that you use the most of and you’ll be able to cut the costs during those first few months, not just of your newborn but of the cost of living too.
Keeping the Family Strong Through A Divorce
The statistics are stacked against marriages as the data shows that more than forty percent of marriages end up in divorce or separation. While that is a tragic data point, we must remember that life goes on.
This is even more true for the children that are a crucial part of the family and the eventual proceedings. The point of this simple guide is to look at how to stay positive and strong through a divorce and separation and how to make sure that the family can stay strong throughout the process.
It is undoubtedly a monumental feat, but it is quite possible and very necessary as it can help to maintain peace, prosperity, and general stability over the long-term. Let’s find out more about staying healthy, positive, and keeping it together for the long haul to ensure happiness and strength for everyone involved.
Staying Positive Amid a Divorce
The first point is that you must maintain a sense of peace and calm within yourself during these stressful and usually hectic divorce and separation times. Ideally, this event is not something you have had to deal with several times in your life, and it is a singular event.
But even then, if it is a singular event, it will be all the more impactful as you do not have much experience.
It is easier to stay strong throughout a divorce or separation, but it is much more difficult to do so due to the intricacies involved in the entire process. Remember that you are conducting the divorce proceedings for a number of reasons. The main reason is usually that neither people are happy with the partnership and choose to go in a different direction.
In that event, it is necessary to ensure that you dig deep down and comprehend that it is for the best overall. It may be hard to do so at first, but it is necessary. You must accept that it happened, and only then can you move forward into the future.
It is a normal aspect of the process for you to require some time to cope and come to terms with this significant change. But remember that you must stay vital for yourself and your children.
It is not only about you and your future but your children’s as well.
The Peace of the Children
It is easy to think about yourself during a divorce and forget about the collateral damage involved in the process. By collateral damage, I mean your kids.
Your children may spend countless hours screaming and misbehaving due to the issues that this brings in their lives. It is not just your life that is going through a sense of disruption but theirs as well.
Remember to have meetings with your children and to help them cope with the process. It is easy to lash out and be hard on your precious children for no reason, fight that urge, be a better parent.
Find peace by spending more time with your children for the sake of spending time with them. You want to make sure that you are healing the hurt feelings early on so that your family stays strong even with the adjustment.
The Strength of the Family
A strong, bonded, and hopeful family unit is still possible even during and after a separation. The process is not easy and will take work but will be quite worth it in the end.
Ensure that everyone in the process feels as if there is an anchor and that everything is not being ripped away from them. Show how life will be after the event and how it is possible to navigate through the turbulent period without too much angst.
Remember that there is a life after the event and think about the long-term during and after the process.
How to Organize Hand-Me-Down Clothes – Guest Blogger: Brittany Bullen
Brittany lives with her husband and three sons in Utah. She is a playwright, composer, actress, singer, thrift shop lover, Mormon and aspiring vegan. She is the founder of the International Bloggers Association, is a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science and the Cognitive Behavioral Society (’cause why not). Brittany has a B.A. in English-Writing from Denison University and has an imaginary Ph.d. in Googling stuff she wants to know. You can keep up with her at BrittanyBullen.com.