Returning to work after maternity leave is a big step for any first, second or third time mum or dad. It is a huge transitional time for both parent and child. Often when big things happen in life we start looking at the bigger picture and thinking about those mega questions like, “what kind of parent will I be?”, “what kind of life will I provide for my child?” and “will I ever sleep more than 4 hours in a row again?” The process of finding a job can be quite stressful in itself, and the more knock backs you get the more you take on board that negativity and it comes out in your approach to get a job. You put less effort into applications, you don’t use active language to talk about your skills and experience and you can come across on paper and over the phone jaded and . If you have been looking around and you have been sending applications and not getting any response you need to change one or more aspects of your strategy. Time to turn over a new leaf and start afresh so let’s take a look at the 5 reasons you are not getting the job and how you can turn things around.
1. You don’t know who you are
Any gap in employment such a career gap or maternity or paternity leave or can affect your confidence, and leave you wondering who you are and what you have to offer. You need to bash out a CV and get everything down on paper. Take inspiration from jobs listed on SEEK or other recruitment websites, have a look at their position descriptions in the field you want to gain employment in and use some of their words to describe and demonstrate your past experience. It can be a tough time if you are transitioning from being a stay at home mum if you have had experience in one field and have then have taken some time out and retrained to go into another field. Employers need to know what value you bring to them and if you can’t articulate it to them, how will they ever know? Rather than saying you hated your last job, your boss was a douche bag and you quit because they wouldn’t let you return part-time focus on your value proposition. Having a career objective or being able to talk on the phone to a recruiter or employer and quickly articulate where have you been, where are you now and where are you going can be a key job searching skill. Something along the lines of, I have had 15 years experience in senior roles in media sales and have developed high level communication skills, am adept in all areas of business development and have established many sales funnels to ensure I have met and exceeded my key performance indicators. Having recently completed a diploma of marketing I am seeking to apply my sales knowledge, data analysis skills and strong team commitment to transition my career into a full time marketing role.
2. You have a scattered job search strategy
Have you ever spent a good two hours on a recruitment website or applied for 5 jobs on 1 day? That could be two places where you are going wrong. Firstly, you need to focus on one or two areas within your industry. Secondly, you may want to develop two different templates of your resume targeting those different industries and you will need to tailor every resume to the specific job you are applying for. Focus on quality not quantity. Snagging a great job is a lot like snagging a great partner. They both need to feel loved, they both need to feel that you understand them and your criteria matches up and you need to know as much as you can about them before you commit. Use single search terms in a web search like digital, policy, data and marketing. Things you are really interested in. Sometimes employers don’t really know what to call their roles so they make up abstract things no one can search on. You just never know your luck! Look into professional associations in your industries, speak to recruiters who specialise in your industry areas and do your research. Have a look at our 5 Career Kickstarters for Mums
3. You are applying for jobs that already exist
When someone applies for a job do you think they are the only one applying? Why do what everyone else does. I’m not saying don’t apply for advertised jobs, I am saying you need to adopt an active approach in a tight jobs market and get out there, targeting employers you want to work for. Don’t just sit back and wait for jobs to be advertise. Actively market yourself to employers. Give them a call and pitch your experience and expertise and ask them if they have any opportunities available. Networking is key to this strategy and they often say it’s who you know as much as what you know that gets you in the door. Start attending conferences, seminars and events in your industry. Talk to people, build your industry knowledge, collect contacts on LinkedIn, put yourself forward.
4. You are too high risk
Employers are like investors. They want to recruit/invest in someone who is low risk but will provide them with a high return. When they are looking at your experience compared to anyone else they are looking into your credibility as to the education you have undertaken, the technical skills you have developed in what context, the employers you have worked for and for how long? Put yourself in the employers shoes. Why would they not hire you? Do you have limited Australian experience? Have you taken time out of the workforce for more than 2 years? Do you have very specific experience in one field and the employer can’t see the relevance. Sometimes taking a step back and thinking from the employers perspective can help you embed information in your CV, cover letter or phone conversation to address their fears.
5. You don’t fit the criteria or you aren’t addressing the criteria
The tough thing about job searching is you can’t control whether you get a job or not. All you can do is control your input to the process. So when you are thinking about your expectations and goals take it right back to basics as to what effort you have put into the application and whether you have all the essential criteria, have you demonstrated your experience in your CV and have you found a way to differentiate yourself from other applicants. Understand the difference between ‘essential’ criteria and ‘desirable’. Essential means you need to have the essential criteria to submit a CV for the role and won’t be considered otherwise. Sometimes when the skill set is so niche you will be considered if you have something close to the essential criteria but phone them up for a chat before you apply to make sure you won’t be wasting your time. Other applicants you are competiting against will probably have that experience. Then there is the matter of a criteria. Most jobs have them and they sound like: we are looking for applicants with 10 years experience in blah blah, high level communication skills, experience using blah blah and experience managing small teams required. In your resume you must address that you have this criteria by demonstrating your past experience. For example: Developed high level communication and negotiation skills while managing a community engagement program for the new Logan Infrastructure Plan which included managing stakeholder relations between government, community and industry where there were often competing priorities. You need to talk about your experience in depth. An employer doesn’t have a crystal ball and won’t guess your experience if you don’t put it down.
For more brutally honest and helpful blog posts on parents and their careers check out the links to our other articles below and remember what they say:
“Whoever gets the job is not the one who does the job the best,
but knows how best to get the job”