A year ago it was time for me to venture back into corporate America. I had spent three years working for the most demanding boss on the face of the earth: my son. I learned quickly that getting prospective employers to find you interesting after you’ve devoted yourself to a free-loading child takes clever maneuvering.
There is an unspoken resume protocol in America. While it is customary to boast of your mediocre piano skills and that you speak “conversational” Tagalog (no one would really know unless you are applying for work in the Philippines), you must never ever call yourself a “mom”. Ever! Especially if you have young children. It can and will be used against you.
Though at first I was wary of the idea, I eventually decided my degree in “mom” was a key reason someone would hire me. When you have just worked for a boss that calls on you at all hours, who frequently tests your danger reflexes and throws food around when he’s mad, you gain a certain fortitude. You develop a patience and mental clarity that is second to none.
Recently, I got into an interesting conversation with a woman without children. She wrote an article on Blogher discussing the need for women to get past motherhood as a political qualification. Many women, men and moms support this view. I encourage my readers to read her article here. It discusses a troublesome trend among educated, experienced female political candidates. The problem? They are using their mom credentials to pander to the lowest of the low: other moms.
This got me thinking. What if being a mom is the only job a woman is allowed to do? Does that mean she is not worthy of representation in her government? If being a mom is not considered an asset, what is the fate of the majority of women in the world with ”just-a-mom” on their resumes?
With such disregard for the motherhood experience, I began to consider the bleak outlook of women in third world countries. Many have sharp minds, common sense and heroic survival skills yet lack access to educational and career opportunities. This type of thinking would automatically disqualify them for roles in their government based on a “lack of experience”. I don’t see how possessing mom skills do any more harm than the commonly accepted requirements of the job.
We all know the private sector works differently. The job-filling process is much less subjective than filling an elected office. There are substantive qualifications an employer looks for in a new employee. But it’s worth noting that many of today’s women have extraordinary skills enhanced by their experience as moms. Others will not know the greatness of that experience unless we tell them.
I cannot think of a better and more efficient way to pass along the message than on our professional resumes. Every letter I sent out in my job search contained this paragraph:
“Since relocating to California in 2007, I have tended to the responsibilities of my young son. It is my hope that my decision to exit the workforce to fulfill my parental responsibilities can be viewed as an asset. It represents a consistent pattern of responsible decision-making throughout my entire life.”
Sixty resume submissions and eight interviews later, I found a humble, decent paying job in the midst of a recession. It has been a perfect fit for my long-developed professional skills and the efficiency I honed while working for my son.
If placing “mom” on my letter was a liability, my new employer did not seem to think so. After sifting through 350 applicants to fill that one position alone, he said it was probably the best cover letter he had ever read.
QUESTION: How has your experience as a mother enhanced your skills as a woman?
CHALLENGE: No matter what your phase of life, never apologize for the time you take to be a mother.
An awesome book that relates to this post perfectly is ‘Mommy Brain’ by Kathrine Elison. It talks about all the ways being a Mom enhances our abilities to multitask, problem solve, deal with high stress situations etc. All which are extremely marketable skills. Here is the summary of her book – and link. I loved it and recommend it to all my Mommy friends – especially those going back into the work force.
Generations of mothers have been told—and believed—that having a baby means checking their own brains at the delivery room door.
“The Mommy Brain” usually refers to a head full of feeding times, soccer schedules, and nursery rhymes, at the expense of creative or challenging ideas. But recent scientific research paints a dramatically different and far rosier picture.
Multitasking moms at home and on the job, The Mommy Brain by journalist Katherine Ellison encourages all of us to cast aside conventional thinking and discover the positive ways in which having children changes mothers’ brains for the better.