By Suha Abdulqader
As I was carefully manicuring a covering letter in response to an employment ad, I kept contemplating the reactions of the human resource officer reading it. How would they feel about even considering the application of what looks like a once high-flyer that is now a full time mother?
I was once in their position, scanning through hundreds of hopeful applicants’ letters, each believing they are best suited for the advertised job. I was always trying to be fair and nonjudgmental. Hard as it may seem to screen people based on a mute application, some were really easily discarded: for example, an application for a post demanding excellent written English that has more spelling mistakes than my first grader’s journal; an application for a technical writer that fills in the blank for “Academic Qualification” with a YES! – Well, maybe this one should go to the creative section. Adding to the challenge was the fact that we wanted highly dedicated and professional staff while offering a “non-competitive” salary. The cliché of “if you pay peanuts you get monkeys” kept hanging over my head.
I remember I changed the rules of the game and started to look for a diamond in the rough. This meant keeping an open mind, reading between the lines and digging deep. Luckily I never had to dig very deep so as to hit rock-bottom, because there was lots of potential out there. We just needed to recognize positive attitude; we needed to look beyond the suit and tie candidate who blanked out under stress; we filtered out the cocky ones who did not bother to go over some post-related basics and relied solely on their irresistible charm; we ruled out the ones with obvious and strong immunity to learning and grasping new concepts. To cut a long story short, I managed to find brilliant candidates that have made me proud and are still doing great after all these years. As I said, I just needed to look beyond the convenience of technical templates so talent does not simply seep through.
However, putting myself again in that recruitment officer’s shoes and looking at my resume, I would definitely wonder: So, why now? And assuming that she was once outstanding; will she still have it in her? The drive, the motivation, the skills and the wits? Hmmmm! Quite challenging if you ask me. Not top shelf material.
However, as a mother of three, you can rest assured that my wits are still there. As a matter of fact, I need all my wits around me everywhere all the time. I can’t snooze, or I can be sure that the kids will pull a fast one on me. I have to keep all my reserves and ammo in check to hold the fort in place.
As for creativity, you know how they say that every time you’re doing a mundane mindless activity your creativity is enhanced? Well, judging by the amount of dishes washed and nappies changed, I think one more drop of creative and I will be chairing DreamWorks.
Multi-tasking is most certainly enhanced. I can’t quite remember when the last time was when I was given the luxury of having to focus on one thing and one thing only. For crying out loud, I was giving birth and trying to remember if someone has asked me to say a prayer for them in the process. Last minute requests anyone? I was recovering from anesthesia as I called my children’s bus to tell them where to drop them off. Surreal! I won’t even question drive, especially when you have two choices each morning: to get up and go or get up and …..go, and yet you hang in there and bring it on with a smile.
Other skills that desk people still think are imaginary include x-ray vision to help you locate lost items and well hidden iPads and the superpower of knowing when someone is not telling you the whole story. This is transferrable knowledge that any office will need on any given day. No seriously, mothers develop secret weapons specially designed for knowledge management right from information gathering to retention and up to deployment. These are lifesaving skills that every mom needs to maintain to keep on top of who-is-who and who-did-what, when and how. We need to pull a lesson learnt up our sleeve on queue.
Two attributes that are almost always required are organizational and communication skills. Need I say more? Just think of your mom for a second and see the amount of communications carried out daily between all the stakeholders from internal communications of commands, reminders, new rules and schedules, to all the external ones involving the schools, various follow-ups and all the logistics in between. More like headquarters operations if you ask me. And let’s not forget the non-verbal communication skills, where mothers not only understand the needs by mere observation, they can freeze a room just by giving them the LOOK.
Consequently, Mr. Hiring Officer, I would really appreciate your looking at my application without prejudice; on the contrary, a little positive discrimination will not hurt, will it? I can always throw in a scrumptious home-baked piece of pie. And by the way, the next time you’re telling someone off and saying that your mother could’ve done it, guess what? She just could’ve.
Mom’s Job Hunt – Part 2