mom.jpgThe stigma that moms face when they try to get back into the job market has only gotten worse in this economy.

I’ve heard from many women who believe the time they took off after becoming new moms, even if it was less than a year, has put them at a major disadvantage when they compete for jobs in this job market. And it’s not just moms, it’s anyone that’s not currently employed. In some cases, companies are actually saying in job ads that they’ll only consider employed candidates.

Clearly, an employer can’t legally refuse to hire you because you’re a mom. If you think you’ve been discriminated against fight for your rights. For the rest of you, it’s time to buck it up.

In this competitive market with the jobless rate still hovering near 10 percent, hiring managers are pickier than ever and want people to hit the ground running when they’re hired.

That’s why you have to focus on all you can bring to a company. First off, I’d avoid the topic of being a mom during any interviews. Sure, you might have gaps on your resume, and have to explain some time off, but stress that you kept yourself up to date skill wise, and build up any volunteer work, or blogging you may have done. (Seriously, understanding blogging, or any kid of social networking, including Facebook and Twitter, can put you at the head of the job-seeking pack these days.)

Beyond just landing a job, new moms often end up with more of the family care responsibilities even though they’re returning to work. You need to think about that and plan for that or you’ll be doomed if you land a gig.

And you need to stop thinking your kids need you around every waking moment! Please, if you do nothing else today, read Erica Jong’s piece that ran in the Wall Street Journal Saturday titled “Mother Madness.”

An excerpt from the piece:

Attachment parenting, especially when combined with environmental correctness, has encouraged female victimization. Women feel not only that they must be ever-present for their children but also that they must breast-feed, make their own baby food and eschew disposable diapers. It’s a prison for mothers, and it represents as much of a backlash against women’s freedom as the right-to-life movement.

Clearly, moms need all the help they can get today. That’s why I decided to ask a mommy-career pro advice for moms who are returning to work.

Here are some challenges and tips from Allison O’Kelly at mommy job site Mom Corps:

Updating your resume. If you’ve been out for a while you must explain your career gap. Include relevant volunteer experience (eg - increased contributions at a fundraising event by 50%) but don’t fill the gap with fluff (eg - volunteered at East Farms Elementary School). If there is no explanation, consider getting some relevant volunteer experience or registering for relevant courses prior to looking for a job.

Updating yourself. You have only one chance to make a good first impression. Don’t pull out a suit that you wore 10 years ago that is out of style and is a bit too snug. Find out what the dress code is at a potential employer and get yourself a new outfit. Seems silly, but it really will help boost your confidence and your professional image.

Rebuilding your network. You will need to spend some time networking if you’ve lost your business contacts or if you are pursuing a new industry. Remember any interaction can be a networking opportunity. Let people know what you are looking for on the soccer field, school functions, religions functions, etc…. People are willing to help and you never know who might know the “right” person.

Your role in the family. You will need to negotiate with your family so they understand your new role and how it will impact them; you will not be successful if you are expected to all of the same “work” at home that you did without an outside job. Others might need to pick up some of your work or you might need to hire people to help out (cleaners, sitters, dog walkers, etc.)

Accepting that you will not be constantly available. You will need to make a mental shift to your work being your top priority. You might need to miss school events or non critical doctor’s appointments or even social time with your friends. You need to prepare yourself and make sure you are comfortable with this transition. Of course, there will be times that familial needs will trump work, but your commitment to your job needs to be your day to day priority.

Confidence. The largest challenge is your confidence. Go back and look at your resume and see the impressive work you’ve done. Talk to an old colleague - find out how they would describe you in a professional environment. You need to go into an interview with confidence or the employer will see right through you!

Any tips you all can offer to new moms, and new dads, would be much appreciated.

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