Ask James Caan – Issue 72
Firstly, thank you to everyone who commented on last week’s column. It highlighted how companies must recognise that people are their biggest asset – even more so in difficult times – and your contributions were invaluable.
This week I’m discussing mothers returning to work, thanks to an email from Jyoti. Jyoti asked how mothers who have been away from the working environment for 10-14 years can return to work, especially in such a difficult climate:
‘I have seen many take options of working within schools to fit around the timetable of their children. However, I know some mothers are highly qualified to work outside the school and can achieve higher salaries but feel that they have simply lost their confidence and feel that they can only work around term time.
‘I have been lucky that I had my husband’s business and have worked with flexibility around my family and have maintained my skills by being a volunteer fundraiser for my local charity.
‘How can we help these people who are really not sure how to step up into the working environment? Also to help new mothers think about their future and to help them think about savings too’.
Jyoti, helping mothers return to work is something that is of great importance, with many organisations establishing themselves to provide support and resources to make it in today’s competitive environment.
Working Mums for example (http://www.workingmums.co.uk/) champions the pursuit of employment, recognising the need for flexible working as well as support for women at all levels of seniority. Organisations such as this realise how to inject the lost confidence and arm today’s mothers with the necessary skills to compete in today’s market.
Mothers – indeed parents – have a tough balancing act when it comes to finding the right job to suit their new family structure. The first step, I believe, should be to find a role worthy of their skill set but that also offers part time hours or flexible working.
Especially when it comes to flexible working, it’s not always obvious if an employer offers it, so I’d suggest talking to companies and developing relationships with HR departments to find out from the start.
It may be possible that you have to take a lower salary, at least for the interim, but this is one way to get back on the ladder and start seriously thinking about savings. You might take the view – as I tend to – that securing a smaller piece of something today is a better option than holding out for more and ending up with nothing.
Having been out of work for a long period, the challenge is not only to find your confidence again, but also to make your skill set relevant for today. This must start with identifying your strengths and realising how they will distance you from the competition, as well as brushing up on your skills.
When applying for jobs when you have been out of work for a long period of time, you must think about what your potential employer is looking for. Attend networking events, talk to hiring managers, join groups – anything to get the conversation flowing that will help your research. Are there any groups in your local area you could join to talk with others in your situation?
Overall, it’s important to not lose your motivation or passion. Searching for a job, especially in today’s market, can be a frustrating experience, but if you identify your USPs and market yourself correctly, you could opening up new opportunities sooner than you think.