My husband and I have both learned to be more patient and empathetic, to negotiate, to multitask, and mostly - to be quick about it.
These skills don't directly translate onto a CV though, and we both did some job shuffling before we settled back into our careers with confidence, at companies that support our new needs as heads of a family.
Madelein Smit, Managing Director at HR Company Solutions, agrees that being a mother will teach you things that no degree could. She mostly considers moms here, but perhaps the same can be said for dads who have taken time off, or who are committed to sharing the load with their partners.
"Your negotiation skills need to be impeccable. You need to be able to keep track of multiple events taking place simultaneously. Then there’s the financial management that comes with balancing your family’s needs," she explains.
Committed to their company
Studies back this sentiment, proving it to be true. One such study from the University of Cape Town recently revealed that mothers who are able to express at work were more committed to their company and had increased productivity.
Read the article here: Provision of breastfeeding spaces vital for productivity, UCT study finds
Another study conducted by the Federal Bank of St Louis found that over the course of a 30-year career, mothers outperformed women without children at almost every stage of the game, and that mothers with at least two kids were the most productive of all.
"Being a mother as a resume killer"
"Unfortunately, some companies see being a mother as a resume killer in today’s competitive job market,” Madelein says.
She describes how it is understandable that hiring managers may feel that in the case of an employment gap, mothers may have outdated knowledge of their industry. Another concern is that moms will have difficulty balancing responsibilities at home with their workload.
"But companies need to be more open-minded about this, because often these women are more skilled now," she says. "Plus, they often showcase more commitment towards the job than their colleagues."
Maternal wall is the new glass ceiling
She says the maternal wall, which is the motherhood equivalent of the ‘glass ceiling’, reinforces discrimination against women and is based on archaic stereotypes.
But Madelein warns that most companies are rigid about their hiring processes.
To counter this, job seeking moms must also be proactive, and not simply rely on the good nature of hiring managers. She advises bypassing any employment gap on your CV with a skills-based resume layout as opposed to a chronological one.
"Apologising for being a mother"
“Candidates can also look at the skills prospective employers are requiring and be strategic about highlighting what they have. If there are discrepancies, aspirants can take accredited short courses to bridge the gap," she suggests.
"Applicants should also sharpen their focus to companies where they will be seen as an asset, not where they will spend most of their time apologising for being a mother,"she adds.
"Embrace policies that support families"
“Whilst we are not saying that companies should go out of their way to accommodate their employees, we are saying they should be more flexible with everyone and manage and measure performance by results, and not how much ‘facetime’ employees put in. All organisations should be willing to embrace policies that support families,” Madelein says.
She adds that organisations should be encouraging towards working mothers instead of shunning them for having children.
Also read: To the working mom of an infant
Knowledge doesn’t have an expiry date, Madelein explains. She believes that women remain clued up on industry-related topics, even after they leave the workplace.
"Employers should be inspiring women to be both great moms and career women,"she says.
Workplaces should be implementing enhanced worthwhile opportunities and creating appreciated benefits for moms in the workplace, because these women through the experience of motherhood, have acquired skills that no conventional resume reflects."
Share with us:
I know I'm grateful that my husband and I have found ways to continue our careers with support from the companies that employ us, but businesses like this are indeed thin on the ground.
Did you find going back to work easy? Or did you face some challenges?
For me, it wasn't an easy road, and I seriously considered dropping out of the workplace several times over the past five years. I'm glad I stuck it out though, and I'm now happily using my new-found skills on a daily basis.
Tell us about your experience and we could publish your story. Anonymous contributions are always welcome.