Long Parenting leave: career disruption not damage

by | May 15, 2016

Long parenting leave revisited together with the words "damage" and "career"

long parenting leave

long parenting leave

It's been a debate that has been around for years. Will long parenting leave damage a career? At one time this was certainly true. Women who took any length of maternity leave complained bitterly about the challenges they faced on their return. 60% of women reported difficulties in relation to pay and conditions when they returned to their previous place of work after even a short break.

Women also experience a ‘motherhood pay gap’, according to the Adam Smith Institute and others. Despite their growing importance in family revenue generation and increase in qualifications, women still assume the role of primary care giver to children, long after it is biologically necessary. Returning to work has become a complex and angst driven issue.

But what about longer term?

Parenting  leave gives women a gap in their employment history, which is highly visible on their CVs and online profiles. HR  and hiring managers tap into this if they see a CV with any gaps at all . Very often A.T.S will skip over chronological gaps so their CVs may not even see the light of day. The chances of being selected are slim.

But what is changing over time is the very concept of career as well as the notion of damage. Despite the employment and selection process being riddled with second generation discrimination (unconscious bias) there are rays of hope. The idea of what a career actually is, is being redefined. Increasingly we are seeing a growing number of people with non-linear careers replaced by portfolio and cluster careers.

There are a number of tricks to be in a better position:

  • Create a strategy. Become an ongoing learner and incorporate learning new skills or keep up to date in old ones.  It's impossible to expect the same career trajectory, if you have had an extended career gap for any reason, compared to someone who has remained in the workplace during that time. Read: 10 tips returning from maternity leave
  • Stay connected to your professional network - many women go off the radar altogether, which is not necessary.
  • Look for companies which offer re-turnships.  Many organisations are seeing their alumni as a valuable source of talent. This is going to be a growing trend to cope with global skill set shortages.

It's important to remember that careers aren't damaged, they are simply paused and disrupted. How you choose to deal with this is up to you.

If you want career advice -  book a coaching session now!

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she joins the dots between organisations, individuals, opportunity and success.
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