I am sharing a wonderful manifesto written by a dear friend of mine (with her permission). My friend is attempting to reenter the workforce after taking time off to raise her young children. She had a couple of job offers already that she had to turn down due to circumstance, and was once again making a go of it with a temporary agency. After a go-nowhere conversation with a recruiter, she wrote the following email to the temp agency:
Last week, I had called to follow up on an application I had submitted for a Data Entry position I was more than qualified for and this is roughly how our convo went:
Recruiter: You do not meet the minimum requirements.
Me: What might the minimum requirements be?
Recruiter: You have not worked in the last 3 years.
Me: I have had three children, been raising a family. Do most positions require employment within the last 3 years?
Recruiter: About 90% of them do.
Me: People have families and they do go back to work.
Recruiter agreed to this fact.
Me: What would your recommendation be for me?
Recruiter: Maybe try retail?
Me: Thank you for this very enlightening conversation.
Since our conversation, I have been sharing this encounter with friends and acquaintances whose opinions matter to me – all of whom have children, including one person who is the head of HR in a very reputable company. As a parent, I am compelled to share some of the perspectives I have gained as I have talked to others about this.
The view that when someone stops employment to start a family they need to go back to the beginning and work up from there was horribly wrong advice on so many levels. Maybe you have not had many people encouraging you and cheering you on to reach for the stars throughout your life. Sometimes, a certain place of employment can make you feel like you need to leave your ethics and sense of humanity at the door. This is a totally soulless way to have to endure what is a significant portion of your waking hours. In doing so, you passed up a potentially remarkable candidate. Re-read my CV [resume] again. Does it really sound like someone only capable of retail?
This is your wake up call to start believing in people and do away with such a limiting belief as what our exchange revealed. In your role, you have a responsibility to make a difference in other people’s lives. I do not believe for a second that if you fast-forwarded your life 7 years from now and put yourself in my shoes, that you would be taking your own advice to me. You would strive to get back in right around where you left off, as you should. And those around you, personally and professionally, should be encouraging you to do so.
Anyway, here are just a few reasons the 3 year rule (or even 10!) makes no practical and business sense:
1. Parents develop and fine tune their multitasking skills to absolutely extreme levels .(I had 3 children in under 3 years, including twins. I know quite a few things about multitasking….!)
2. Parents continue to grow and develop as a human being while they focus on caring for their families. Professional growth does not stop the moment you stop work to raise a family. On the contrary, all the experiences gained during this time are all stored up to be positively used once the parent re-enters the work force.
3. Parents bring to their place of employment a deep sense of purpose and responsibility, as well as a more rounded perspective of all the aspects of learning and performing their jobs to the best of their ability.
4. Parents who are able to stay home to nurture their families for a few years make great employees later on because when they do return to work, their children have had a good foundation instilled in them that include values and study habits. This comes in very useful when the parent begins working full time and the child is left to conduct themselves properly under the supervision of someone else until the parent returns home from work. It makes for a less stressed working parent because they know their children are doing well enough on their own until Mom/Dad gets home, thanks to those extra years of nurturing.
5. Parents, and other people, have a duty to seek employment that matches their skills and talents. To aim well below one’s potential does everyone a disservice.
6. The skills and experiences that one gains never go away or become dormant as a result of a number of years of choosing to nurture their family. I still possess all the skills my CV lists. I am still the same person who can run businesses and take on new challenges and learn and grow from them. What has changed is a deepened sense of purpose in anything I choose to step back into.
I totally believe in the best that each of us has to offer and I hope that my words will inspire you to take away something positive from this as you move forward in your career.
What do you think?