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Tips for Staying Relevant While You Take a Break From the Workforce

October 19th, 2009 by Emira · 2 Comments

When I first met Janice, a colleague and friend who I very much admire, and a whip smart consultant to boot, she was just re-entering the workforce after having taken a few years off with her kids. As she recounted for me some of the tales of interviews she had been to, where HR reps looked at her suspiciously and asked her to explain just what exactly she had been doing with the couple of years she had taken off, my jaw hit the floor. We all know that women regularly get penalized in the workforce for taking time off to be with their kids, but somehow I guess I had thought we were for the most part past that, and that particularly someone with Janice’s level of skills and experience would be given a full pass for stepping out for such a short time particularly when stacked up against her experience and skills. But apparently I was wrong.

Janice, followed up that conversation by sending me some links for women who are taking time off (for whatever reason) from their careers on staying “relevant”. I put that last word in air quotes, as I feel those women are more than relevant as they are, but … well you all know what I mean. Anyway, as I clean out my inbox and get rid of some pieces that rightly should have been filed last May, I thought I’d share them here for those of you thinking about stepping off the merry-go-round for a while.

Tags: Business Advice

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Caitlin // Oct 19, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    where HR reps looked at her suspiciously and asked her to explain just what exactly she had been doing with the couple of years she had taken off, my jaw hit the floor. We all know that women regularly get penalized in the workforce for taking time off to be with their kids, but somehow I guess I had thought we were for the most part past that, and that particularly someone with Janice’s level of skills and experience would be given a full pass for stepping out for such a short time particularly when stacked up against her experience and skills.

    Maybe I’m missing something here, but I would think the HR person would be remiss if they didn’t at least inquire about the “missing years”.
    I can’t imagine someone getting a “full pass” based on the HR person’s assumptions about what they were doing with that time.

  • 2 Suzanne // Oct 20, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    I found that people generally accept and appreciate the fact that women take some time of for a child, as long as it is just a short period, like not over a year, and as long as they are willing to give it more than 100% again when they do re-enter the work-force.
    I feel that you have to make up your mind and say YES or NO! Taking a year off is accepted, but trying to work part time or needing a few extra hours off becasue your child is sick, is not accepted.
    I understand the point of view from an employer, though. Why hire someone who cannot be counted on for the full 100%?But it makes is very hard for mums to get back into the work force.