By: Zeynep Ilgaz
I think being a mom is the most rewarding job in the world, and I commend every woman who has decided to make it a full-time gig.
But what happens once a stay-at-home mom finds herself needing (or wanting) to rejoin the workforce? This can be a difficult and stressful situation to navigate, but it’s also a common one. In Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In,” she highlights the fact that 74 percent of women choose to return to the workforce in some capacity after having kids.
I’m one of them. After evaluating many factors, I chose to return to work soon after I had my two lovely sons. It seemed like the natural (and financially responsible) thing for me to do. I’ve been constantly working since I was a teenager, and I just couldn’t fathom what life would be like without a job. I’ve always enjoyed having a work-life balance — and without working, that balance wouldn’t exist.
With that in mind, my husband and I made the conscious decision to share both home and professional responsibilities. We also made sure our sons were aware of why we made that decision, which I believe sets a good example for them of how to balance life’s many responsibilities.
If you, too, make the decision to return to work after having children, congratulations! It may seem intimidating, but don’t be afraid. There are many business leaders — like myself — who will happily hire working moms because they’re great employees, especially in today’s fast-paced work environment. The moms at my company are among the best, most skilled, and most productive employees we have.
Here are a few tips that will help moms showcase their skills and have a successful reentry into the workforce:
1. Update your résumé.
Freshen up your résumé by highlighting the many skills you gained as a stay-at-home mom. We are living in a world that thrives on productivity, and many of the capabilities you developed during your time at home are ones that modern-day companies would love to have on staff. Even if you didn’t gain these skills in a professional setting, they should still be listed on your résumé.
For example, you could mention that you’ve spent the past several years managing and coordinating home, school, and family functions, which is no easy task. You also likely possess extraordinary multitasking, negotiation, and communication skills. Be sure to highlight those on your résumé, as well.
2. Play to your strengths.
During job interviews, don’t be shy about explaining your absence from the workforce. Proudly talk about the strengths and skills you developed during your time away.
The skills mentioned above — along with others like teamwork, leadership, and transparency — transfer incredibly well into the professional sphere. Your recruiter (especially if he or she is a parent) will recognize this. In fact, as a recent Fortune article points out, some tech companies are actually going out of their way to recruit women who left the workplace after becoming mothers.
3. Prioritize family-friendly companies.
While there’s no doubt the glass ceiling hasn’t been broken, times have certainly changed. Many workplaces are far friendlier to mothers than in the past. Companies are beginning to pride themselves on providing perks such as childcare and flexible scheduling, so be sure to look into what options are available when you’re applying.
Perhaps this could be linked to the fact that female entrepreneurship is on the rise. The number of startups with at least one woman founder jumped from 9.5 percent in 2009 to 18 percent in 2014. This trend only means good things for working mothers, as companies will continue to become more and more open to accommodating their unique skill sets.
The moms at my company aren’t incredible employees despite being mothers; they’re great because they are mothers. Their parenting roles have taught them invaluable skills that make them exemplary employees any company would be grateful to have.
Regardless of the role you choose when returning to work, have confidence in yourself and your abilities. I hope my journey — from motherhood to entrepreneurship — can inspire your personal journey.
Originally from Turkey, Zeynep Ilgaz and her husband co-founded Confirm Biosciences and TestCountry, where Ilgaz serves as president and CEO. Confirm Biosciences is a national provider of diagnostic products for human wellness, animal health, and environmental testing. Ms. Ilgaz received the Most Admired CEO Award in San Diego in 2016, and Confirm Biosciences was recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in 2014 and 2015. Most recently, Ms. Ilgaz has been honored as a finalist for EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2016 in San Diego.
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