Coach Fiona Clark has five tips to help mums who have taken a career break get their confidence back.
Every mum knows the organisational skills involved to get the whole family clean, dressed, fed and with the right kit at the right place at the right time.
No CEO can teach us anything about the patience, diplomacy, relationship and people management skills needed to coax a stubborn toddler to eat peas if he doesn’t want to or motivate a teenager to help around the house.
Yet, when it comes to applying for jobs or thinking of career options, these same mums often say: “I don’t have any relevant skills to offer.”
Fiona Clark, career coach and founder of Inspired Mums, says: “Loss of confidence is the biggest culprit. These mums, often successful career women before they take a family-motivated break, don’t value what they’re doing at the moment and in the process also lose sight of what they’ve achieved in the past.”
Fiona is a firm believer that every mum, whatever she’s done before raising a family, has acquired enough skills to find a fulfilling career that fits in around her family.
She has five tips to help mums identify, sell and use their transferable skills.
Fiona is a great believer in playing to your strengths, so work out the skills that come naturally to you, whether you acquired them sitting behind a desk or multi-tasking between cooking a meal and overseeing a child’s homework.
Take a moment to think about your actions every day over a week – and the skills you use to execute them – this could be at work, at home, during your sports training or in an art class. Write them down. Perhaps you’re great at persuading reluctant mums to help out at school events or you’re a dab hand at designing beautiful leaflets.
Now, do the same, but list skills used in previous jobs and life situations. Ask your partner or a friend to add to the list. If you’re stuck, any career coach worth her salt will help you see your invisible skills in no time using tried and tested tools.
Divide your skills – of which you now should have too many to choose from – into categories – for example, communications, interpersonal, technical and personal development.
Next choose top five skills you enjoy using most and would like to use in your ideal job or own business.
Think about how those skills can be used in different environments – for example, can your multi-project management skills be used to set up a business managing accounts for companies? Can your crafting skills be used to offer children’s art workshops?
Check out the online job boards and research the type of skills employers are looking for. Do any of you newly acquired or rediscovered skills demonstrate what they’re looking for?
Transferable skills mean exactly what it says on the tin – they can be moved between industries. Just because you once worked in IT, it doesn’t mean that the creative thinking or planning skills acquired as a mum can’t be applied to any other profession – including the one you’ve got your heart set on.
Think out of the box, be creative, draw a mind map, brainstorm, let your imagination run wild. The idea is to find something you would love to do using the skills you have identified.
This is the fun bit – use the jargon and key words you spotted in the job ads to sell your own skills to impress the socks off a potential employer, both on paper and in person during interviews.
Present your skills in a positive way, for example, instead of saying you are a stay-at-home-mum returning to work, present yourself as an accomplished professional seeking a position in PR utilising your organisational, people management and creative thinking skills.
Never apologise or worry about career breaks – believe in yourself, be proud of what you’ve achieved as a mum and be passionate about ways in which these abilities and skills can be used in the workplace. Use examples to demonstrate how you’ve used these skills and the successful outcomes you’ve achieved.
*Fiona Clark is a qualified confidence and career coach who founded Inspired Mums to inspire women to reach their full potential at work. Fiona re-launched he own career when she had a family because she wanted work that truly motivated her and fitted around her lifestyle. She is passionate about helping women find fulfilling, family friendly roles. Contact Fiona for a chat about finding your ideal career on firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re lacking confidence, download a free 10-minute exercise to help you feel more positive.