Most employers are extremely hesitant when it comes to hiring a woman who’s returning to the job market after taking some time out to be at home raising her children for the past five or ten years. The bias that exists in the workplace when it comes to hiring a mom who’s been out of work for an extended period is threefold. Not only do these women face gender and age discrimination, but they also face discrimination simply because they have been out of circulation.

Most employers will opt for hiring someone with less experience over a returning stay-at-home mom. But women returning to work after an extended leave can actually be better candidates and future employees. If you’re still on the fence about whether to hire the fresh college graduate or the mother returning to work, here’s four reasons why you should pick the latter.

    1. Eagerness to learn wins out 9 out of 10 times.What this means is that women who are returning to work are going to be more eager to learn new things and jump right back into the workforce they once knew. This can be true for college students as well, of course, but since they have no work experience, a stay-at-home mom who’s returning to work will have less of a learning curve. These women have proven themselves before and they’re looking to challenge themselves by jumpstarting their career once again.
    2. Being a stay-at-home mom is a job in itself.We’ve heard this numerous times, and regardless of the naysayers, it’s really true. Being a stay-at-home mom isn’t a walk in the park, and the lifestyles we see on TV don’t portray the reality of life for the stay-at-home mom who’s juggling everything at once. They’re great multitaskers, they know how to budget, and they’re constantly working with different types of people (kids, other moms, teachers, significant others, etc.). These three tasks in themselves provide the kind of know-how that will serve them well in the office.
    3. Motivation in a returning stay-at-home mom will be at an all-time high.This plays into our first point, but is worth mentioning on its own. Not only will these stay-at-home moms returning to work have the eagerness and willingness to learn new things, but their motivation is going to be very high. Returning to the workforce is a challenge, and the desire to be at the top of their game and prove themselves once more will be high in their minds. You’re going to get an individual who will do whatever it takes to get back to where she was before she took a leave of absence to raise her children.
    4. Success rates for returning stay-at-home moms is significantly high.If you’re looking for someone in a more senior position, but can’t find the right candidate, hiring a former stay-at-home mom might just be the answer to your prayers. And returnships, in which people who are returning to the job market are offered short-term paid positions, much like internships for college students, are on the rise and have proven to be very successful. You get to try out the returning professional before you hire her, and the applicant gets to dip her feet into the workforce and catch up on her skills. Don’t discount someone just because she’s taken a leave of absence. There may be some skill areas she needs to catch up in, but in the end, if you have what it takes, you have what it takes.

This underserved workforce has the experience and know-how to overcome challenges put in their way through perseverance, hard work, and. So, next time you see a resume from someone who’s coming off of long leave, don’t automatically it in the discard pile. Give her a chance, and she may show you wonders.

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, is an author, speaker, Human Resources professional, and workplace social media expert who has a passion for recruiting, training, and all things social media. She is the president and CEO of Xceptional HR, and a leader in the HR community with more than 12 years of industry experience. The author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, Jessica was named by HR Examiner as the second most influential recruiter on the Internet and the seventh most powerful woman on Twitter. She is a columnist for both SmartBrief and The Huffington Post, in addition to Blogging4Jobs and Human Resources One on One. Jessica has been interviewed for professional articles in CIO Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, SHRM’s HR Magazine, and on CBS. Jessica earned a Senior Professional in Human Resources designation in 2008, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Business from Kansas State University. Originally from a small town in Kansas, Jessica currently lives near Oklahoma City with her husband, Greg and daughter, Ryleigh.

5 Comments

  • Avatar Stacy D. says:

    When women are hired after maternity leave, the hesitancy makes them try harder and show more concentration with every task, so there is no need to be afraid. These women already know they’ll be treated differently and will do everything possible to show a proper level of execution and proficiency. 

  • Avatar Roberta T. says:

    What about priorities? Non-parents are likely to spend all their time and effort to be a success. They start the day rested and focused, and no sudden call from a nanny will distract them from a serious task. So they are, in fact, more suitable for responsible positions. 

  • Avatar Sharon L. says:

    One more thing should be added. Stay-at-home moms are extremely patient and focused and attentive to details, as the lives of their children are in their hands. As an HR manager, I’ve noticed that women returning to work after maternity leave respect their work schedule and deadlines even better than others. And that’s what counts by the end of the day!

  • Avatar Kathryn L says:

    I am a working mum (why don’t we call men “working dads”?!?). I had my children in my thirties so I feel I can legitimately comment from both perspectives – working without children and working with. And in both cases my dedication, motivation and commitment have been to do with my own inner aspirations, work-ethic and desire to achieve – not to do with my circumstances. My kids are obviously incredibly important to me, but so is my career and I honestly don’t think anyone I work with doubts that or feels my commitment and output is any less than they were 5 years ago.

    When “the nanny” calls (I don’t have a nanny, but whoever has the children), of course if it is something serious I will leave. I have childless colleagues who have sick parents and as a caring employer we’d expect them to do the same. That “serious task” I was distracted from doesn’t go undone though or even dumped on the shoulders of a colleague. I make it up in my evenings. 9-5 working can be a thing of the past these days. We’re online 24-7 anyway, so everything important can get done around children and having children certainly makes you a master of juggling lots of priorities.

  • Avatar Breanna Wiseman says:

    Any hard task tempers employees. The same is true about women who come to their job in order to “rest from home life.”  In fact, it’s rare that any task can be compared to feeding, bathing, walking, visiting the doctor, and playing developmental games – and that all before taking a nap at noon. 

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