Like so many recent college graduates my oldest son kept coming across job postings that said, “At least three to five years of experience required”.
He lamented, “Where the heck am I supposed to get the three to five years if they won’t hire me in the first place?”
It’s a similar experience for many women and men who have been stay-at-home parents for the past twenty-plus years of their lives and out of desire or necessity want to get back into the workforce.
When the nest goes empty, it’s as if you’ve been laid off from your job and your career has been dissolved.
Even having a college degree and a professional career before kids, former stay-at-home parents can often find themselves in the same entry-level situation as a younger college grad while also facing the potential of a hiring manager with an ageist attitude.
It is understandable that for many jobs, experience and/or a high level of expertise and up-to-date knowledge are required.
But for so many others it’s more about who you are than skill sets. As one recruiter told my son at a job fair, “Most employers are really looking for someone who is dependable, easy to work with and trainable”.
So how about the over 50 prospect and especially former stay-at-home parents?
Here is a dream job posting:
Employee with at least 10 years of experience in:
Organization and time management
Procurement and cost efficiency
Emergency Preparedness and Response
Social Media Content Management
Able to handle heavy call volume
Willing to work for community and volunteer causes
Outstanding Communication Skills
The Patience of Job
Must be able to work exceptionally long hours and available for crisis response 24/7. Tasks and duties will inevitably involve situations never before faced, yet must produce acceptable outcomes. Must be willing to work well with others and maintain fantastic disposition at all times. Must be able to work without direct supervision. We will train you in our specific processes to do your duties in our Best Methods and Practices.
Variations of this list have been circulated for years not because it’s hilarious; but because it is true and parents can totally relate to it!
This is a compelling example for job seekers and job hirers to look beyond specific skill sets, job history, age and professional accomplishments.
If you are a working parent, how many times have you noticed the difference between those adults in the work place who have children and those who don’t? How often have you thought about how the ones who don’t are lacking in critical areas such as communications skills, patience, empathy, organization and leadership?
We may be seeing the beginning of a trend in which hiring managers are focusing more and more on the intrinsic attributes and experience of a prospect, rather than just resume details and demographics.
Just as some employers are beginning to look more closely at the character and ethic of a college graduate, so too can they look at the unique talents and experience of the older prospect.
Last but not least, there is a great deal to be said about the gratitude older employees have for a new job or their current one. Gratitude for a job means an employee will be all the more dedicated and committed (and a heck of a lot easier to work with).
So employers should take a fresh look at these reentry-level workers and see them as very accomplished, experienced and successful people who are seeking a career change and have the desire, determination and experience to learn new things.
And for the former stay-at-home parent, in your encounters with prospective employers, help them realize the weight and the impact successfully caring for and raising a family provides.