Dear Recruiter or Hiring Manager
Following maternity leave, us Mums are feeling a bit vulnerable. We have been out of the workplace for about a year, going through pretty much the most life changing experience we could ever go through. We have gone from a career where we felt in control and like we knew what we were doing to a world of nappies, feeding, sleepless nights, late night Googling of unknown reasons why a baby might cry and we have had whole days where we didn’t speak to a single adult.
We were feeling nervous about what life would be like as a working Mum so we were hoping to go back to the familiarity of the job we already knew and were good at. We were hoping to work slightly adjusted hours to give us a chance of being able to put our own baby to bed, whilst still doing a good job. Our employers were so excited to meet our babies and cooed over them but then they asked us to fill out a huge form and then in a meeting that lasted less than 10 minutes, they firmly said no. Just like that, our years of service and hard work came to nothing.
Feeling at our most rejected and vulnerable we are applying to the very few flexible roles that exist. We are sending out our CV’s and meeting all the recruitment agencies. We are squeezing into old suits that don’t really fit anymore whilst connecting with hundreds of people on LinkedIn. We are applying for jobs and preparing for job interviews whilst feeding our babies.
With that in mind we just have a few friendly requests;
- Please take us seriously. We haven’t had our brains sucked out, we have just been busy learning new things.
- Please do your best to stick to telephone call times or be understanding about re-arranging for another day. We have carefully planned these calls around nap times and childcare so if you are 25 minutes late, we might not be able to take your call quite so easily.
- Please don’t ask us to take dramatic pay cuts. Childcare is really expensive and we need every penny we are worth.
- Please don’t pull apart our CV’s and question all of our career choices. Now is not the time to make us feel worthless. Instead give us constructive advice about how to make our CV or application really stand out or ask questions to gather information that brings out the best from us.
- Please don’t force us to take a job that we don’t want. We may be keen to find a new job, but that doesn’t mean we have to take something that won’t work for us.
- Please don’t suggest we change our career path. We have spent years getting to where we were because we enjoy it and want to do it. Having a child doesn’t mean that our ambitions have changed.
- Please don’t ask us (or anyone) to fill out lengthy application forms if our CV isn’t right for your role. What a waste of everyone’s time.
- Please don’t treat us like we are a risky hire. You won’t find someone harder working and more focused than a parent who has to leave on time to do the nursery or school pick up.
- Please spare some time to give us feedback. We have spent valuable time applying for your job, the least you can do is give us some considered and constructive feedback.
- Please consider the hours of your role and whether there is some flexibility around your office hours. Even your ‘flexible’ hours might not be suitable for as many people as you think.
- Please treat us like you would want your own mother to be treated if she was applying for your job. This probably was her a few years ago.
Thanks, from some hardworking professional women who are also Mothers
Lianne Baketr is a HR professional with over 10 years experience in recruitment, employment engagement and retention, recruitment and selection strategies, employment relations, benefits management and general HR services.
She has shared her story on LinkedIn and for the Huffington Post in the hope that employers will be inspired to be more supportive of working parents and be more open to workplace flexibility.