July 28, 2016. By Ashley Agnew:

A frequent theme in our discussions is how rushed the days seem. Tuesday suddenly becomes Friday, and Friday quickly turns into Monday, each day with a to-do list that, without fail, magically resurrects.  Many parents encounter this struggle during paternity or maternity leave and while homemaking during early child rearing years.  Just as in any work week, these stay-at-home parents also witness time flying by, and before they have had a chance to mentally prepare, it is time to re-enter the workforce and they are left with the daunting task of evaluating their often-depreciated personal human capital.

We regularly read about human capital in the context of a collective workforce (undoubtedly it is knowing that the best assets are the ones that walk out of the office each night that is the best piece of knowledge a CEO can hold on to).  This term, however, also defines your qualifications; the investment in your personal credentials and skill set. While time off to perform what can be considered the most important job in the world as a parent is commendable, not to mention an unparalleled experience, it is important to understand the ramifications of extended leave.  Unfortunately studies show that the “Mommy Penalty” is a real thing, and that parents are oftentimes seen as less competent when returning to work after a parental leave, leading to lower salaries.

Carol Agranat, founder of Career Mapping Solutions, states “There is no doubt that time will pass you by in a flash and fewer of your professional goals may get accomplished during the early months or perhaps even early years of parenthood. Don’t fret and feel defeated by this lapse, but instead take the time to be thoughtful and strategic with your plans”. Here are some ways you give your curriculum vitae a boost while still enjoying the irreplaceable rewards of spending precious time with your little ones:

  • Continue Your Education
    • If your position requires CE credits, be sure to keep up on these. If not, explore certifications and seminars that will help you stay current with the trends of your industry.  This could also be a good time to add new skills to your repertoire that would dovetail nicely with your existing capabilities.  With the availability and easy access of MOOCs (massive open online courses), opportunities are endless.  Check out edX.org for courses that might spark your interest.   A pro in your field?  You may also be interested in teaching an online course through the same site.
  • Preserve Your Network
    • Stay relevant on LinkedIn, take up offers for coffee meetings when possible.
      • Networks build slowly but break quickly. Keeping in touch is a small task that is more than worthwhile. Do not be afraid to continue attending your networking events!
      • Start a blog that you will be able to reference on a resume, or publish posts regularly on LinkedIn to show that you are knowledgeable on current industry trends.
  • Volunteer
    • Find a meaningful cause and donate your time in ways that can be qualified, such as newsletters, fundraising, research portfolios, and proposals.
  • Return Part-time
    • Return at least part-time asap, and be sure to tell people about your plans to return to work.
    • Daily Worth offers the following great advice: “If you had an elevator pitch for your job, you can have one for your new life as well: “I’m an architect, focusing on public works. I’m currently in year two of a five-year family leave, and then I intend to go back to work for a firm that does XYZ.”
  • Remain Professional in Applications
    • Avoid “kid-centric” cover letters and resumes and remain focused on professional competencies. The important thing is to not appear that you have been stagnant.
    • If you do not feel confident in your resume writing or interviewing skills, engage a career strategy firm such as Career Mapping Solutions.

As James Taylor would say “the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time”.  Try not to get so overwhelmed with filling your planner with so many career related items that you are unable to enjoy your time at home, but remember that you are worth the effort of preserving what you have worked so hard to achieve in your career.