Many local parents will find themselves opting back into the workforce after staying home to raise children and they might face some big challenges in the process.
WHAT TYPES OF NUMBERS ARE WE LOOKING AT WITH AT-HOME PARENTS OPTING BACK IN?
Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, we know that just over half of moms with infants participate in the labor force. That number jumps to 63.9 percent of mothers with kids under 6 and over 70 percent of mothers with kids under 18. That means a sizeable population of parents are putting work on hold to raise children before hopping back into the professional arena.
WHAT CHALLENGES DO PARENTS FACE WHEN THEY RE-ENTER THE WORKFORCE?
We know based on research that as soon as a woman becomes a mother, she becomes a less valuable employee, earns less, and is promoted less. One study found that American women who take a between four and 12 months off work after the birth of a child slash their chances of being promoted by 15 percent, compared to women who take a shorter maternity leave.
Having more children increases the career penalty: after having two or more children, women are more likely to make a downward career change than an upward one. Research from the American Sociological Association found that moms face a 7 percent wage penalty per child. Another study found that for every two years a woman is out of the labor force, her earnings fall by 10 percent.
Although some parents receive 12 weeks of job-protected leave after a birth or adoption through the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, the law only applies to certain employers with more than 50 workers and employees with more than 1250 paid hours over the preceding 12 months. Based on these stipulations, only 45 percent of working women qualify.
WHAT ABOUT MOMS OR DADS WHO WANT TO WORK PART-TIME WHILE RAISING CHILDREN… DO THEY FACE THE SAME CHALLENGES?
Recent surveys have shown that around 60 percent of moms with young children would prefer part-time employment.
But it’s not always easy to find part-time solutions that make sense, once the cost of childcare is added in. According to a career specialist from Bellevue College, there just aren’t as many part-time positions as there used to be.
But flexible work arrangements (including flextime, job sharing, compressed workweeks, and telecommuting) can exist in a number of industries. It’s really a matter of a parent negotiating for these arrangements with his or her boss. In most instances, it is up to the boss to decide whether to allow job flexibility or a reduced schedule.
WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR PARENTS TO SUCCESSFULLY OPT BACK IN?
Parents who plan to ramp back on the career track can follow these essential steps:
- Plan Your Move: Consider whether your pre-kids career is still a good fit. If you need to invest in education or training for a job change, begin researching options at least a year or two before you’d like to step into a job search.
- Refresh Your Skills: Consider a course in networking, interviewing, or social media. Community colleges offer non-credit courses on career-related topics, starting at $25.
- Build Your Network: Six months to a year before a job search, create an up-to-date LinkedIn profile and start attending networking events in your field. Your college or university may have an alumni group on LinkedIn, and that’s a good place to start looking for contacts.
- Be Engaged and Informed: An informational interview with a professional in your field is one of the best ways to get a foot in the door. Ask for recommendations and advice, and remember to send a thank-you note.