When you decide to start a family there are many factors to consider. One of those big factors is money and your career. For many women it means time away from their job and therefore a potential gap in their CV. Something which is unavoidable if you want to take some time out to start a family, and even more so if you have multiple children within a short timeframe.
Large gaps in a CV are even more common in this region as the statutory Maternity pay is only 45 days (with the exception of some companies and free zones) which means that unless you want to work up until the day you give birth and come back when the baby is only around 6 weeks old you are left with little other option than to take un-paid leave or quit altogether.
Firstly, deciding to take a break from your career to have a family isn’t the wrong decision but it is a difficult one to make and subsequently a tricky one to come back from, depending on how long you take off. Time away from your chosen career means that for some they feel they are ‘out of the game’, especially given how fast the world is moving these days!
With that in mind, what are the things career women can do to help close the gap while they manage the start of family life. Nicki Wilson from Recruitment Consultancy Genie gives us (and you!) her top tips:
If there are gaps in employment it will really show a commitment to return to the workplace if an individual is taking courses, keeping an eye on trends, and keeping up to speed with the latest developments in their industry.
Especially in this the Middle East market, it is a wonderful thing to take on internships to learn new skills and adjust back into working life. Whether it be a 2 week stint in a PR firm if you are in a different area of marketing or perhaps shadowing in a recruitment business for a month when you’re a HR professional, it would really stand out to an employer that you have taken the time to commit to learning.
Staying in touch with colleagues – old and new, they may be in the know of roles coming up or even have the influence internally to introduce you to a decision maker. You never know when a connection can led to so keep in touch as much as possible.
Be willing to take a step backward to move forward, especially if there is a large gap. I have seen so many candidates take a step backward and then completely shine in the role to then be exactly where they were before motherhood very quickly!
Honesty on your CV
A lot of mothers (and fathers) who have been out of work for a long stint will inflate their roles during the gaps, even if it was a side hustle job titles like ‘CEO’, ‘Vice President’, ‘Marketing Director’ can be either off putting or confusing for an employer. Look at the skillset gained and perhaps mould it to the CV or at least ensure it is clear this was a self employed role or freelance gig
Apply to both part time and full-time roles, just be clear about the expectations from the first call. Some full-time roles can be negotiated to 3 or 4-day weeks or even shorter days to accommodate a working mother.
Attending breakfast mornings / trade shows as you never know who you will bump into who might have opportunities, just get yourself out there!
Quality childcare arrangements and a back-up plan for interviews and returning to work. Interviews can literally be requested the same day in this region so its important to be able to be flexible to attend whenever and wherever
Ensuring you are focused on particular industries or job roles will be more successful then say… being open to anything! We see a lot of candidates looking to return to work who are wiling to do anything, but often these are the profiles who have been out of the work the longest.
Before applying to a role ensure you research the company and make the introductory email relevant, complement a project the company are undertaking or just show enthusiasm
Make sure to have a solid relationship with a recruiter, they often are able to influence and get you in with businesses way before a role is even advertised internally, staying in touch with someone influential in this area will be gold dust.
Find the ‘working’ you might take time, especially if you have been out of work and mostly stuck to a small human. Be kind to yourself. It is also important to mention that ‘Career’ and ‘Motherhood’ don’t need to be separated or conflict with each other. So many companies are advocates of flexible working which makes this balance much easier…but that’s a whole other conversation!