I’m late 40’s, two kids and have been a stay at home mum for ten years. I’m struggling to prove my value in interviews. How do I get around that?
You cannot get around it - those are the facts. That has been your life for the past ten years. But don’t run for the hills, the news is not all bad. In fact, so many partners of redundant employees have decided to return to the workforce over the last 12 months that you are in a very similar situation to many. That means employers are being presented with people such as yourself - regularly. If you think I am thinking, ‘that’s a good thing’ you would be correct.
So rather than considering it a hurdle, consider it a given and devise your interview strategy accordingly - fully on the front foot, rather than having to explain or make excuses.
Let me explain how this is a good thing. It forces hirers to:
1. Recognise that their potential employees are coming from this pool of experience
2. Consider the benefits/experienced offered by this this pool of candidates
3. Be open to the unique value of this new fresh revitalised workforce
Think about it, if half of your candidate’s are/were stay at home mums, do you just discard them out of hand - I think not.
Employers might just be missing the best person for the job. So if Hirers have been forced, cajoled or willingly faced with the ‘stay at home mum’ candidate pool - then you, the job seeker, need to be ready to make it easy for them to see your value.
That brings us to the second part of your question:
How do you prove that you are valuable?
Glad you asked. Because I have a few ideas around this based on the hiring criteria priorities of our employers.
Soft skills (hate that - they are not soft) they are essential. I call them ‘People or Human Skills’. Business culture has had a huge shift and in a positive way. People Skills or competencies are now recognised as around 50% of hireability criteria. Your attitudes, aptitudes and ‘how’ you work and communicate is just as important as your qualifications and experience. From a mums perspective, as you mould the future generations, you are using, learning and adjusting your ‘how’ and your attitude constantly.
I asked Tanja, mum of two teens, for her ideas on where to pull your ‘people skills’ evidence from, or - what to consider taking on, if you are feeling a little ‘light-on’. She says:
“You may want to consider doing a few years on your kids’ school P&C Board or if that's too big a commitment (I hear you), perhaps put your hand up to run fundraisers to pay for new IT or sports equipment for students. Any of these projects are great evidence of your ability and people skills. You might be thinking that it's just ‘part of being a mum’ - well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not. Anyone who has ever attended a P&C meeting knows that to get anything done at school you need to have incredible communication & negotiation skills. Plus, you are actually dealing with large budgets and lots of layers of approvals. The rub is… if you are capable of successfully running a P&C meeting or major school fundraiser, you can be CEO of any company or even a brilliant politician! So these types of experiences or projects are perfect to use at your interview.
Tech and digital savvy. You have to be up with it because you are monitoring, blocking, adding security, tracking and sifting tech every day. It’s a part of modern day life. In order to keep control and keep your children safe, you have to be tech savvy and on it - 24/7!
Youth market needs. You are the biggest influencer in your child’s life. That means you know what they are in to and not in to. You know their fashion, music, lifestyle trends, their aspirations a