You’ve completed your studies, gained your first professional experience, gained further qualifications, maybe even worked abroad, and then it comes: the end of your career.
We already suspect it in our late twenties, when personnel officers suddenly ask about the desire to have children despite the prohibition by the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG for short). It bothers us, maybe some even lie at this point, but the consequences of this question, we guess at this point only rudimentarily.
With the birth of the first child, often follows the descent on the career ladder. The tasks become fewer or more mundane, one is excluded from larger projects and a re-entry strategy after parental leave is discussed more in passing and verbally.
1. plan your re-entry already before parental leave
At this point, the first important tip: Put every agreement with your supervisor in writing. This must include the exact date of re-entry, the amount of hours to be worked per week, and the exact work activity. Don’t let your employer pressure you on this. If childcare is not assured, returning to work is rarely possible at 30 hours/week. Be realistic at this point, but give your supervisor(s) a chance to make an entry plannable. Specifically, this means: Part-time (15-20 hrs.) – Near full-time part-time (25-30 hrs.) – Full-time (35-40 hrs. and above). Offer your boss the opportunity to strategically reintegrate you into the company. Exclude specific services that are not possible for you (e.g., business trips), but offer alternatives (e.g., travel). Attending meetings one afternoon or continuing education classes you wish to attend).
2. take a strategic approach and try to reduce parental leave
My second tip to avoid a “nasty surprise” when you return to work: Don’t take parental leave for too long. Time with your own child is precious and you should enjoy it, no one would disagree with you here. As a re-entry consultant, however, I can tell you from my own experience: for many employers, family time is a kind of “zero phase.”
Although raising children, running a household, caring for a relative in need of care, or providing intensive support on your own home construction are important activities that provide you with many skills for later re-entry, however, the following applies to the free economy:
Demonstrate hard skills. These include, for example, further training, work in the self-employed sector, work experience(15 hours/week are permitted during parental leave, with the permission of the employer) or similar.
3. you never stop learning
My third tip at this point is to continue your professional education. Use online courses offered by universities or the Federal Employment Agency, which are (partly) free of charge. A private language tandem to improve one’s language skills or volunteer work can also serve as opportunities to acquire skills needed later during parental leave.
Remember: You do not need written proof in the form of a certificate for all (especially volunteer) activities. So at this point, do some focused soul-searching and think about where you do volunteer (i.e., voluntary and usually unpaid) work and be sure to include it on your resume.
4. list own children (correctly) in the curriculum vitae
My fourth tip comes from application management and attempts to provide an answer to the much-asked question, “Should I list my children on my resume?”
Many people have the feeling that if they “delete” their children completely from their CV, they are denying them. You can see it that way, but you don’t have to. You are not hired because you have children, but you are often rejected (so the assumption goes) for that reason. Try it out, drop this point and see if the invitations for job interviews change positively in your numbers. My experience is that whether or not a recruiter shows interest in this life event depends on the industry. Should you wish to list your children, I advise you to note in parentheses the number, age, and “care provided” [ex. 2 children, ages 3 and 4, (care provided)]. In this way, you give the employer the assurance that you have a caregiver in case of emergencies and do not(note: exaggerated remark) “run out of the company every time the child coughs”. The last option would be to not list the children in the bibliographic information, but to accurately list the parenting time in the chronological listing of your life data. Most of the time, this point is noticed, but it is not brought into direct focus and is thus brought to the employer’s attention as one life event of many.
5. you will not be hired according to your part-time preference
Many want to save themselves the trouble and write directly in your application “position as,…part-time”, sometimes even with a concrete number of hours behind it.
This is where my fifth tip applies and is relatively simple: Please don’t write that down! You will not be hired based on your part-time preference, but on your qualifications. The cover letter is about “pitching” and not making demands. Think of each interview invitation as a chance to prove yourself, meet key networking partners, and practice your self-presentation. If the employer does not react too positively when you bring up the possibility of working part-time in the interview, use the reverse psychology strategy. You can do this, for example, by telling about your previous bad experiences in the job search and at the same time praising the employer for his/her open way of dealing with a mother/father in the professional re-entry.
6. become a network expert
My sixth and final tip, which you should keep in mind before, during and after your parental leave: Network! Only a broad and effective network can make your career re-entry a walk in the park. You can also find concrete tips on how to approach the topic of networking in a targeted manner in the article: 7 Tips for Successful Networking.
How did you manage to return to work? Have you arranged for strategic reintegration into your company? Have you broken new ground (for example, by becoming self-employed) or found your way back into the professional world through your personal network? Share your experience with the FemalExperts community!
With Andrea Nahles’ push, women in particular who are stuck in the part-time trap could soon hope to return to full-time work with the legal right to do so (see Spiegel Online: Nahles wants statutory right to return to full-time work).
About the author
Kinga Bartczak berät, coacht und schreibt zu Female Empowerment, neuer Arbeitskultur, Organisationsentwicklung systemischen Coaching, und Personal Branding.
Zudem ist sie Geschäftsführerin der UnternehmerRebellen GmbH und Herausgeberin des FemalExperts Magazins.