Mothers looking for paid work after a long absence should not downplay the skills they have acquired bringing up their children, according to career counsellors.

Unpaid duties such as running the school canteen or uniform shop and organising fundraising events demonstrate good organisation and planning skills and should be included on CVs when applying for jobs.

Marion Dunn, principal at Career Matrix, said some mothers felt daunted when compiling a CV. However, with some good research, refresher courses and professional help, all of their skills could be showcased.

“Often mothers will say they haven’t done any real work they can include but there are plenty of examples showing their skills and strengths, ” Ms Dunn said. “The process of putting things down on paper will help in determining how you want to sell yourself.

“You need to decide if you’ll return to the job you were doing before taking a career break or you want to do something completely different. The best way forward is to think about previous skills and knowledge and build on that.”

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show 75 per cent of mothers with children aged six to 14 were employed in 2011-2012. In 2011, 86 per cent of mothers who returned to work after the birth of their child used at least one flexible work arrangement to assist with the care of their child. Most worked part-time (76 per cent), 40 per cent used flexible working hours and 30 per cent worked from home.

Ms Dunn said research was crucial and a period of personal reflection was important in deciding how much work the jobseeker wanted and at what level.

“It’s not uncommon to feel a lack of confidence, so take a few small steps rather than rushing back in, ” she said.

“Some people take up voluntary or unpaid work experience to get back into a workplace, and use that experience when applying for a paid position.

“Training courses to update and refresh skills can really help in showing employers you are somebody worth employing.”

Leesa Rogerson, training and recruitment manager at Working Mothers Connect, said the biggest challenge for working mothers was juggling everything without feeling any part of their life was neglected, particularly children.

“A mother’s first priority is always her children but that doesn’t mean she will not be a fantastic employee, ” Ms Rogerson said.

“Mothers are used to running a very tight schedule and routine, so they are likely to be highly efficient and productive in the time they spend at work. All they require in return is a little flexibility.

“We are seeing more employers realising there is this amazing talent pool of mothers who will give 100 per cent. With all the technology around, there really is no reason why employers can’t offer flexibility to hardworking, capable employees who happen to have children.”

Bicton mother Jenny Lewis, 52, took a decade off from her accounts position in the shipping industry to raise her son Zane. A lack of confidence was the biggest issue she faced when re-entering the workforce.

“I took advantage of a Centrelink course for over 40s and did an Excel, Word and MYOB course, which helped me feel more ready, ” she said.

“My previous employer gave me a job but this time I took a part-time position working 24 hours a week, still in accounts but with less responsibility.

“It still took me about four to six months to feel comfortable working again but I’m very comfortable and confident now.”


© The West Australian

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