- The Male Career Model is still widely in practice and hasn’t changed fast enough. It’s characterised by an emphasis on continuous employment without career breaks, physical presences at work for long hours, an assumption that employees are primarily motivated by money and influencing power, and the decade of your 30s being a critical one in determining who ‘makes it’ in the company. The same decade which is often the most critical in terms of child bearing and rearing responsibilities! Fortunately, with the advent of new technology, new work models and formats, new laws like India’s Maternity Act, and scores of the ever-demanding Millennials entering the work force, there’s never been a better time to re-enter the workforce! (The duration of maternity leave was increased to 26 weeks and a provision to work from home was added. Perhaps the most important aspect is the mandatory provision of on-site day care services for every establishment with 50 or more employees).
- Re-entry barriers: When a woman tries to rejoin the workforce post a break, she often encounters biases regarding how seriously she takes her career and her ability to balance personal and professional responsibilities. Given her self-confidence at this point, disrespectful comments in an interview or salary offers far below her expectations can deeply impact her motivation. She’ll need to be thick skinned, have a very clear (non-apologetic) narrative about her choices and in some cases convince her employer that she ‘means business’ about her return.
- Many returning women believe that they longer wish to go back to either the work format (full time, travel, etc.) or Industry they used to be a part of. Some even view becoming entrepreneurs as a way out, believing being your own boss will somehow give them more time with their family. While it may be the case some times, becoming an entrepreneur is really hard and not everyone has it in his or her DNA. It’s akin to having another child and its all consuming. Plus the timing maybe iffy, self-esteem wise. Another format is Freelancing, which could come with it’s own flavor of disrespectful in terms of pay or quality of work initially. Having said that, there are a lot of platforms that support women in working on flexible schedules and no less than 15 MNCs that have great return packages, offer flexible hours and have childcare on site.
Some suggested platforms that are targeted at women who want to work on a flexible basis:
- Avtar Career Creators
- Jobs for her
- Her second innings
- Back to the Front
Some tips from Mahzarine for those ready to get back out there:
- NEVER sound apologetic for prioritizing your family or personal life!
- Showcase the fact that you’re someone who likes to give a 100% to what you prioritize, and for that break phase, you prioritized personal commitments.
- Before you start interviewing, expect the biases, and prepare for them! Build your case when it comes to showcasing the support system you’ve set up for your personal commitments and the skill sets you bring to the table.
- Actually create that stellar support system before you start work… just for your sanity!
- Don’t sound desperate in interviews! You’d be surprised how many women walk away with significantly smaller salary packages than their employers planned on offering them, just by displaying desperation.
- Don’t fall into the “everything has changed since you last worked” trap employers will try to convince you about. You very likely still have relevant skills and life experience. Showcase your readiness to learn a ‘new way’ of working and understanding market dynamics without it meaning that your skill sets are no longer relevant.
- Most importantly – Be Resilient, go out there and kill it! As I said, there’s never been a better time for us.