Dr. Hollman: Hello Ms. Dolan. It's a great pleasure to meet you and congratulate you on your work creating the LA event called MomFair LIVE! How exciting and wonderful for all the women who are attending. Perhaps we could begin by having you share with our readers how you became interested in founding Optln.
Ms Dolan: OptIn has been a vision of mine for many years. As I relocated around the country for my husband's career I kept meeting well educated, smart and talented women with the same issue that I was personally struggling with--women looking for fulfillment outside the home or trying to make the transition back into a career.
Dr. Hollman: Thank you for letting us know all about the birth of OptIn. What other kinds of experiences led you to create this wonderful opportunity for women?
Ms. Dolan: With 12 years of working experience in Manhattan under my belt I was put on bedrest at 16 weeks with my identical twins so I never made the choice to 'optout' per say, it was made for me. Being optimistic I thought, I have years of high tech experience I will stay home for a couple of years and then get back to work. That proved not possible for me. As I stayed home I lost a huge part of who I was. This shift came with a huge loss of confidence and self- esteem. As I moved to other cities around the country I found I was not alone. 53% of stay-at- home mothers want to get back to work but find it difficult to find opportunities. Last year I could feel the tide changing in society and thought that is was a great time to start OptIn. I secured an angel investor and founded OptIn.
Dr. Hollman: Do you find that you are able to help women see how they have developed an incredible range of skills as mothers that they can now put to use as paid employees?
Ms. Dolan: Yes, that is one of major resources we offer women. We coach them to change their mindset around the work they do at home. We prompt them to think differently about the skills they have gained at home and help them articulate that. It empowers them. What I have found is that sometimes women hold themselves back so at OptIn it is a complete process. We give you all the tools needed to OptBackIn--setting the women up for success. (Coaching, Resume & Social media training, peer to peer mentoring, Interview preparations, etc.)
Dr. Hollman: How do you discover the employers with the best hiring and retention practices for women returning to work?
Ms. Dolan: We work with companies that that have good vacation leave or parental leave policies, or that go out of their way to support gender equality in the workplace, as well as, companies that we have relationships with from our personal network. A lot of our OptIn women are looking to trade compensation for flexibility, so we look to companies who are open to nontraditional arrangements as well. They get access to a pool of motivated and experienced workers that are currently untapped.
Dr. Hollman: That's just remarkable how you've networked and found employers like that. How do you suggest women explain "the gap" - the time women took off to raise a family - to a potential employer?
Ms. Dolan: Ah 'The Gap'? This one is very important and goes back to remarketing themselves and the skills they gained at home with honesty and conviction. We focus on this not just through the resume or cover letter guidance but throughout our OptBackIn process. For example, we know that this will be the first question asked so through our interview preparation phase we help them craft and practice the reply that feels most authentic to them. When said with confidence most hiring mangers will not see that as a negative.
My personal career challenge for this year is to have Jeff Weiner (CEO of LinkedIn) help us with this by developing a way (or check box) on your profile that says "taking time off to raise the next generation" or "taking time off to care for the previous generation." Making it socially expectable to have a gap in your resume becomes the norm, not just for moms but for everyone. We need to change the way society views the incredible sacrifice caretakers make.
Dr. Hollman: Tell us how you came up with the idea for MomFair Live! What are you hoping will be the results of being a partner / event sponsor with MomFair?
Ms. Dolan: MomFair is a great partner of ours that produces events that help Moms with career transitions. It's a great synergy; women helping women.
Dr. Hollman: This was a wonderful opportunity to talk with you about OptIn. In closing, I'd like your readers to take a look at these links to see all the opportunities you offer women:"A Woman Who" and "I Never Opted Out" the video you put together to show all the skills moms gain at home. Thank you.
Laurie Hollman, Ph. D. is the author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child's Behavior found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Familius and wherever books are found.
This article was first viewed on OptIn.