Zutano has long cherished the honor of creating the first garments that a child wears. As a company, Zutano always puts family first. We believe that business has a responsibility to support working parents and in 2016 we are committed to sharing not only information on our programs, but ideas from parents in the workplace around the globe that may help you enhance the ways you balance parenting and career.
Zutano’s acclaimed “Baby-to-Work” program has been thriving for 12 years. A progressive human resource program, Zutano’s ‘Baby-to-Work’ initiative allows new parents to bring their baby to work for the first year of its life and has seen more than 22 infants nurtured at their parents’ desks. The genesis of the program was certainly inspired by our core business, but the babies have benefited the most. The first year of a child’s life is a critical period for bonding and emotional development. A baby that is given reliable and loving attention by its mother and supporting family (in this case caring coworkers) will ultimately be a happier and more self-assured little person. It allows working parents to maintain their career and stay in the workforce while at the same time nurture their baby and create a powerful bond during a special time in their life. Mothers and Fathers who work at Zutano have successfully participated in the program.
For those women who have older toddlers and are ready to take the leap back into the workforce after time spent at home, we’ve tapped into local writer Jessica Lara Ticktin for some advice. Ticktin is an independent multi-media story producer and mother of four daughters based in Burlington, Vermont. See more of her work at Jessicaticktin.com.
6 Tips for Moms re-entering the workforce
By Jessica Lara Ticktin
About 5 million women in the United States stay home to raise their children. Of course it’s not just women who are primary caregivers – both men and women take on that role. But what happens when the children begin school? What’s next? How do you start thinking about going back to work?
Here are six tips to help you ease the transition and plan your re-entry.
1. Set Goals
If you are ready to enter the professional world again then it’s a good idea to set some real goals to help you get there. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook talks about making an 18-month strategic plan in her book “Lean In”. She claims a year is too short and two years feels too long but the sweet spot is right in between. 18 months is realistic for you to actually attain the goals you set out for yourself. Before I had children, I worked in public radio so I set out a goal to pitch a story to my local public radio station and set small goals for myself to begin to publish essays on parenting in a few different print publications
2. Find Your Passion/Career Change
Do you want to go back to what you were doing before? For some people, the answer is and easy yes, “I loved being a teacher” or definitely no “my job was too stressful.” I have a friend who was an attorney before she had children and she used to put in very long hours. When thinking about working again she knew this kind of lifestyle was not going to work for her family. She decided to look into doing mediation for couples. She wanted to set her own flexible schedule. Over the next couple of years and some strategic planning my friend eventually opened her own mediation firm with a former colleague. If you didn’t love what you did before, let yourself dream about what you do want to do now. Think about what kind of workday you would ideally like to have and then consider the types of jobs that are potentially open to you given your skill set. Figure out with your partner how you will divide up tasks like picking up children, grocery shopping, making dinner, cleaning etc. This may limit the kind of job you seek as one of you may be more flexible than the other. Now that you are going back to work, things will shift and it’s important to negotiate and designate responsibilities beforehand to find a plan that works for everyone in the family.
3. Update Skills
Although you still have the same skills as when you left the workforce, some of those skills may be a bit rusty, or in today’s digital parlance – you need to update to the newest version. Take a class at your community college or local library to brush up on things like Excel or social media tools. Taking a class in person and interacting with people face- to- face and being able to ask questions is invaluable. You might get a job referral or use the teacher as a reference. Online classes are a good option but try in person if you can.
A few years ago, I needed a refresher course in digital audio editing since the software programs had changed. I found a weekend course in a nearby town and signed up. This was extremely helpful not only for the updated skills but a year later I ended up landing a big project through one of the participants!
4. Get your Resume Ready
Being a full time caregiver to your children is a tough but rewarding job that is, unfortunately, not considered work in our society since those who do it are not paid. Of course, being a stay-at-home parent doesn’t mean you haven’t been working and building skills. You now possess a myriad of new skills, many of them that you can do at once. You are a pro at multi-tasking – that’s for sure! Some of your new skills have been honed as you planned events for your children’s preschool or fundraised for a charity event. You may have put together a newsletter, designed a basic website, written a blog or organized coat drives. These are valuable skills that can translate into professional skills many jobs require. When putting together a current resume make sure to list your key qualifications and a career “summary” so that you lead with what you can offer, not when you were last employed. Make sure to list all your volunteer work. I had friends look over my resume before I sent it out and asked a few of them to show me their current resumes so I had a template to work with.
When you are a stay-at-home parent you meet a lot of people when volunteering on the PTO or being a room parent. All these other parents are potential sources of information for your job search. Ask the mom standing next to you at the early morning soccer game where she works and how she got there. Set up informal coffees or lunches with former colleagues and let them know you are in the market again. According to the U.S Bureau for Labor and Statistics about 70% of jobs are found through networking.
My first job back after being home with my kids came from volunteering with a woman who happened to be on the board of the local public radio station. She told the VP about me and soon after I came in for an interview and he hired me. Check out the online career networks at your alumni organization or the career services at another professional organization where you’re a member. MomCorps.com and Maybrooks.com are just two websites geared towards moms re-entering the workforce.
6. Cultivate Confidence
Don’t apologize or make excuses for your time off with your children. This was one of the best things you have done in your life and you should be proud of the hard work and dedication you put into it. Many people suffer a loss of self- esteem after being out of the workforce for sometime. Focus on what you can offer an employer, remember to think of yourself as an asset.
Anne Marie Slaughter, author of “Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, Family” says that the role of caregivers is vital in any society. “The work we do investing in others – as mothers, as fathers, as children caring for parents -is just as important as the work we do for money”. Know your worth. Believe in yourself and your ability to be of value in the workplace and others will believe in you too.