Finding a Needle in a Haystack

Welcome to the "On Balance" guest blog. Every Tuesday, "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Writers need to use their full names. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Kathleen Wiant

I worked full time as a mother of one. I loved working. I didn't like my son being in day care all day.

Upon having my second child, I asked my employer if I could work part-time in the office while managing my full-time sales territory. I wanted to be evaluated on performance, not face time. The CEO and President at the time, a working mother of four named Carol Clark, agreed. The arrangement proved beneficial to both the company and to me for several years.

After having my third child, I stayed home for seven years and had two more children. Now the mother of five, I began seeking flexible employment. I knew that to manage five kids and two careers, my husband and I couldn't both have M-F 8-5 jobs.

I searched on all the major job boards. I couldn't believe what I found. To have a job that dovetailed with my family life, I would have to accept a position well beneath my skill set. That didn't make sense to me. I was good at what I did. And even in sales, much of my job isn't face time. I knew I could do the "face time" work in three days a week outside of my home, and the rest in the evenings and weekends.

I searched. I waited. And I searched.

Finally, I decided no one was going to "fix" this problem. I knew we had to invent a solution. I reconnected with Carol Clark, who was just stepping down from her full-time career after 25 years. Her passion was baby boomers who still want to contribute to society through work, but without a full-time, set schedule. The unmet need she saw was employees over 50 who might be caregivers for aging parents, or who may need to work to supplement their retirement savings, or who want to give back because they have time and expertise to share. Flextime professional jobs are perfect for many parents and semi-retired boomers. And that's how NeedleStack Jobs.com, a place that connects employees and companies with professional, flexible jobs, was born -- and how I invented a career that worked for my family and me.

Have you returned to work after retiring or staying home? What frustrations did you face? Have you invented your own solution? What do you think about the growing trend of companies seeking and hiring flex-time employees? Do you see companies hiring part-time professionals as a way to decrease payroll expenses during times of economic uncertainty?


Kathleen Wiant lives with her family in Columbus.


Want to Explore Flextime Work?

Companies like Women for Hire, Flextime Lawyers, Flexperience Consulting and Needlestack Jobs serve two groups, job seekers and employers, all of whom want flexibility in their jobs. Visit each company's Web site for more firm-specific information.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  April 8, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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First!

Posted by: First Comment | April 8, 2008 7:56 AM

Aahhhhh, how freeing. I can be me again!

There are tons of these popping up everywhere. momcorps.com was started by someone in atlanta (don't know anything about them but their name).

As I just asked my company if I can go part time, and they haven't technically hired me on (but are indicating that they will in a few months), we'll see if I need any of them. I'll be taking the summer off, though, so excited.

I think this is a great trend. There are plenty of people who want to work, but not at full time jobs (I was one of them as a SAHM, and knew plenty of other SAHMs who wanted to work part time - and who had tons of experience to give!). This is a great and apparently, growing trend.

I'm all for it!

I think companies *are* trying to cut costs, but I doubt this is the way to do it. This is a way to have people work the way they want, with companies being able to get what they want. I doubt it's for everyone - and I would bet most companies think they will save money with it, when in the end I suppose they would not.

Posted by: atlanta | April 8, 2008 8:24 AM

Oops! I meant atlmom up there. Too early in the AM. :)

Maybe freedom's not all it's cracked up to be!

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 8:26 AM

One of the first things I noticed about motherhood is that moms still have the energy and ability to work (often fulltime) but not necessarily during 8 am - 6 pm on a schedule.

Give us flexibility and we will get the job done. Believe this applies to dads just as much. And studies show even the childfree appreciate flexibility and that productivity increases when you give employees time-latitude while keep performance standards and rewards in place.

The workplace seems to cling to the outdated expection that everyone, including parents, need to fit into the traditional white-man-with-wife-at-home model. Flexibility is often free to employers and priceless to employees, especially new parents and people who are semi-retired but still have a lot to offer.

Posted by: Leslie | April 8, 2008 9:00 AM

Registration?

We ain't got no registrations.

We don't need no registrations!

I don't have to show you any stinkin' registrations!

Posted by: Gold Hat | April 8, 2008 9:01 AM

Thanks for including this guest blog today. I think about this topic all the time. I personally plan to ask for part time very soon and I am frankly "terrified" of the answer. I have asked for part time before and had to leave because (a) the answer was "no" and (b) they realized that I am no longer committed to the job to the same extent as everybody else in the office. I think that in some fields, where the work can be measured objectively, it is not so hard to do. In other fields, especially the ones that Washington is famous for, the client oriented businesses, it is very hard. As they say, out of sight, out of mind.

Posted by: blank | April 8, 2008 9:15 AM

It's been awhile since I've read this blog (I've had an extremely hectic last 6 months at work with no down time to sneak a peek at the On Balance blog). But here I am this morning to lurk since I've been having the re-occuring visit of the guilts again. I think it's a great benefit if companies offer more flexibility to moms who want to keep working outside the home but also want to spend a significant amount of time with their children. It seems the breaking point is money. How to work less hours at something you'll like doing while making enough money to help support your family AND have enough time to spend with your children? Right now I am struggling with not liking what I do in my job enough (or if my job is important enough) so that I don't feel guilty about dropping my daughter off at daycare. I've been doing this since she was 13 months and I keep hoping it will get better by the time she starts kindergarten and then I won't have to feel guilty any longer because she HAS to go to school. For now, it's a choice I've made to put her in daycare in order to remain current in the field. I fear taking time off and then not being able to re-enter. Then I wonder that if maybe I was doing something different (a new job), I might feel better about leaving her in daycare. But then I am concerned that a new job might require more commitment from me and not be as flexible as the job I'm currently in. I guess I need therapy. But any advice on switching careers or just looking for something with fewer hours would be appreciated.

Posted by: D in MD | April 8, 2008 9:15 AM

A few weeks ago, a "first" happened for me -- a secretary resigned because another firm (slightly smaller than this one) had offered her an opportunity to accept a job at slightly less pay but allowed the opportunity to work from home two days a week. Yes, you heard me right, a legal secretary is going to be working from home part-time. We cannot match that offer at the moment, though if I get my way, we will start down that road soon.

The times, they are a'changin'.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 8, 2008 9:18 AM

I had an extremely frustrating conversation with the university administration where I work about this very subject a while ago.

Many academics who work full time end up going the adjunct teaching route and when I queried about the possibility of a raise I was told: "We assume that most people who do this kind of work are not doing it for the money. People have many different motivations for wanting to work part-time." In other words, no.

I'm concerned that this is still a widespread perception on the part of employers -- that the "little woman" wants to "get out of the house" and forget about the ironing for a while or something, and that those who seek part-time employment don't need the money and just want to dabble or something. While I think the employer clearinghouses described in the article here are great, I'm worried if it's just a way to make it easier to exploit those who have little flexibility by offering them low wages, no benefits and a lack of advancement. It's my understanding that doing so in Europe would be illegal.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 8, 2008 9:20 AM

great blog!

atlmom: freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose (continuing yesterday's conversation) he he he

Posted by: dotted | April 8, 2008 9:20 AM

With 5 cubs in the family, either Mamma Bear or Pappa Bear needs a job that comes with health insurance benefits. Flexibility is great, but the health care issue that parents seek for family stability is still tied to a full time job and a marriage contract.

Posted by: DandyLion | April 8, 2008 9:21 AM

Actually, I was looking at local community colleges (can't teach at university level as I have no phd). I was SHOCKED that they are paying per class LESS than I made as a grad student teaching similar (I presume) classes. It is EYE opening. You take what you can get, sometimes, I suppose. And if I taught 2 or 3 courses, I guess it wouldn't be horrible.

Oh, I went to grad school a LOOONG time ago...

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 9:24 AM

And, realistically, for most, dandylion - parents need at least one person working full time for benefits.

My sister, who kept telling me over the years that she could never leave her job, she is so important, she makes sooo much money, etc., told me she wishes she could quit when I told her that I had. Her DH works for himself, so the family relies on her for the health benefits.

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 9:26 AM

altmom: community college pay for full time profs is equally shocking. A friend was offered a position for ~45K - in greater Hartford CT area!

Agree that health insurance drives a lot of decisions...

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother/tntkate | April 8, 2008 9:40 AM

It is unfortunate that we make these decisions not on the best situation, but the healthcare. It's a crying shame, really. But I guess as an employer you give what you have to, even reluctantly, to get what you want, and if you don't have to pay more, you do not.

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 9:46 AM

Hey, there are some forward-thinking companies that offer benefits for part-time employees. Imagine that!

We have to keep fighting this fight inch by inch. Everytime you ask for PT or support someone looking for PT or FlexTime work it's a kind of victory even if you don't get everything you want.

Most infuriating -- I hear you Blank and all the other blanks -- are those jobs that have no grounds for facetime and still require it. The leverage is on "their" side for now but not forever.

Down with registration! Freedom feels darn good. Long live these tech problems!

Posted by: Leslie | April 8, 2008 9:48 AM

Well, I don't think my company actually thought I would quit, but...

And another person at the company said years ago she asked if she could go part time and was told no, we don't do that. I asked someone who's been here forever and she said: no, no one's here part time.

Of course, in the employee handbook, there is a whole section on part time employees and what their benefits are and how they are handled. BUT there is NOT ONE person here who is here part time. Interesting. And yet, all i hear is that upper level mgmt is REALLY CONCERNED about keeping their staff (extremely, considering all the retirements, and all the people who have been here 10, 20, 30 even 40 years - and with the new generation of workers, that is quite unlikely to happen again). But then they don't do much to allow for something like part time (even though, as mentioned it's in the employee handbook).

So from the younger employees, I've kinda gotten a pat on the back, good for you, etc.

I think that they do not want anyone else asking for part time. I think they do not want to make concessions. Of course, they will have to for the future, but right now...they are seemingly trying to stick to their guns (NO ONE works part time).

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 10:07 AM

The column and these comments conflate two very different issues:

1. part-time professional work *yawn*

2. full-time work done responsibly and timely off-site, but not between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Employers have become much more flexible about number 2 because the job gets done. Number 1 is about prospective employees (like this woman who takes 7 years off, has 5 kids and wants to work on her preferred terms at her preferred level and at her preferred salary - go for it!)wanting to have it all. While part-time schedules work well for some employers, particularly those with very large payrolls, where another employee can pick up the slack of the part-timer is not available to finish a job, it does not work at all for other employers or for their clients.

At the risk of being trite, Numbers 1 and 2 are apples and oranges, bringing different economic and social issues into play.

Posted by: Queen Curmudgeon | April 8, 2008 10:09 AM

clearly, sometimes, people want more than they can realistically get. But it's a crying shame that you have so many talented people who are shoved into a box that they don't want to be in when there could be so many better options out there.

And no, the 1 and 2 are not completely different. There are definite similarities - i.e., flexibility is flexibility.

Of course, we discuss this a lot on here. And none of us are starting our own companies to take care of the issue.

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 10:26 AM

"Number 1 is about prospective employees (like this woman who takes 7 years off, has 5 kids and wants to work on her preferred terms at her preferred level and at her preferred salary - go for it!)wanting to have it all."

True, I found the blogger's attitude a tad obnoxious. If it was me, I would have said: well, I have taken time off, I have lost contacts, I have to compromise, blah blah blah. But she didn't and more power to her. She wanted to have it all and she got it! So, maybe it is better to have demanding and unrealistic expectations and NOT to compromise?

Posted by: blank | April 8, 2008 10:36 AM

"So, maybe it is better to have demanding and unrealistic expectations and NOT to compromise?"

I think like in any negotiation, it is better to think big, and go for what you really want. If that doesn't work, then of course you may have to compromise, but I would not categorically rule out the possibility that sometimes, you do get everything that you ask for. Why not try for that first? I think that people sometimes sell themselves short because they are afraid of asking for what they want--when in reality, the worse thing that can happen is that they get a no answer, in which case they can start the negotiating process and compromise.

Posted by: Emily | April 8, 2008 10:51 AM

"The column and these comments conflate two very different issues:

1. part-time professional work *yawn*

2. full-time work done responsibly and timely off-site, but not between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

At the risk of being trite, Numbers 1 and 2 are apples and oranges, bringing different economic and social issues into play."

Posted by: Queen Curmudgeon | April 8, 2008 10:09 AM

Just as apples and oranges are both sweet fruits that grow on trees, #1 and #2 above are both white-collar jobs done in offices. The grape-picker, the police officer, the surgeon, the miner, the track-layer -- where is their flexibility? How do they do their work "responsibly and timely off-site"? What about the machinist, working where the gears run quickly, machines bang wildly, the shop is dirty and hot, her head is disoriented, her eyes are cloudy from sweat and tears, the boss runs up and down, driving the workers like sheep? Her husband lost his job in the factory when it moved offshore, any day now her own sweatshop job could follow his to Red China, there are little ones at home who are hungry.

Once, the Empress of Austria visited the town where my wife's great-grandmother lived as a little girl. The Empress threw oranges -- a luxury in pre-WWI Europe -- to the crowd, and the little girl caught one. Just as an orange is a luxury in a cold, bleak continent, so the kind of white-collar office job that we're talking about on today's blog is a luxury compared to the hard, dirty, insecure jobs that all too many workers slave at all day.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | April 8, 2008 10:54 AM

What you said, Emily.

You should never negotiate from a position of fear -- fear that you will be shot down, fear that what you are asking for is unreasonable, etc. If you are asking for PT or FT schedules for logical reasons, hold your head high.

You should also always try to put yourself in your boss's place in this kind of negotiation. How can this make him/her look good too? I also find it effective to position it as a favor, which people find hard to resist: "I'm committed to continuing to do a great job, but I need your help here..." Another tact that seems to work is: "Can you help me understand why there might be objections to me working a flexible schedule..."

Avoid the hard sell and stark confrontations, which seem to make a tricky situation trickier.

Posted by: Leslie | April 8, 2008 10:58 AM

Yes, Matt, some people have more choices than others. That's why most parents want their kids to get an education, to get good experience, etc, so they will have choices. What's so wrong with choices? I have lots of education and specific experience, so yes, I can call the shots. Wouldn't have it any other way. Should I just go work at a mall to make you feel better? Yes, I have a friend who didn't want to go to college, failed out her first year, and now she looks back and wishes she had gotten a degree (which she is working towards 20 years later and with a kid and working full time) she sees how tough it is. Would she want better for her kid if she could have it? WHY YES, SHE WOULD. Why not? For those who put in the time and energy, they have the choices. If you don't because you can't or won't, then no, you don't have those choices.

When the industry my dad worked in dried up in the 80s he had NOWHERE to go, hasn't worked since, really. Cause he had no education - no choices. So he lives on his soc sec and we hope that he will be okay (don't get me started - no I'm not sending him money).

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 11:10 AM

Matt, not sure what bleak planet you're living on today. But in my world, taking care of your family AND working for pay and benefits is no luxury. It's something to be admired, praised, sought after, commended. Sounds like you've transported yourself back to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, where a new mom died because she had to go back to work in the slaughterhouse the day after she gave birth. That's the worst of capitalism run amuck and I think it's strange that you are trying to make today's posters feel guilty about wanting to be good parents AND good employees. At the same time! Imagine a country and a culture that supported BOTH!

Posted by: Leslie | April 8, 2008 11:36 AM

you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate. i was SHOCKED when my bosses agreed, no problem, to my detailed maternity leave plan, which states that will work from home 3 days a week in a transition period after returning from leave. i thought maybe if i got lucky they'd agree to let me work from home 2 days a week, with office time the other 3, but instead they just gave me everything i wanted! so naturally i'm grateful and will stay at this company. good treatment with awareness of flexibility needs breeds good morale and high productivity.

Posted by: newslinks | April 8, 2008 11:39 AM

Confidence indeed goes a long way. Unlike last time I was out of the workforce, I am certain I will be able to find a position that allows me to do what I would like (by targeting certain companies in my area - and then, if that doesn't work out, then I can target these 'flexible' companies listed above).

So if they don't call from here (which would not make a whole lot of sense), then i will start with other stuff, I am much more educated (as to what companies are out there) and have many more contacts that I did a few years ago, I am confident I can get what I want.

And if that doesn't work out, our rental business will be going like gangbusters, as well...

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 11:45 AM

". . . the kind of white-collar office job that we're talking about on today's blog is a luxury compared to the hard, dirty, insecure jobs that all too many workers slave at all day."

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | April 8, 2008 10:54 AM

". . . some people have more choices than others. That's why most parents want their kids to get an education, to get good experience, etc, so they will have choices. What's so wrong with choices? I have lots of education and specific experience, so yes, I can call the shots."

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 11:10 AM

"Matt, not sure what bleak planet you're living on today. But in my world, taking care of your family AND working for pay and benefits is no luxury. It's something to be admired, praised, sought after, commended."

Posted by: Leslie | April 8, 2008 11:36 AM

Yes, it's to be commended, but it's not available to everyone. Education and experience have enabled Atlmom and Leslie (and me, too!) to escape the planet of blue-collar and pink-collar work, but that world is still out there, all around us. And all of my brother's education and experience -- he worked as a surgeon for 25 years -- didn't give him the luxury of being able to operate on patients at hours of his own convenience, let alone in the privacy of his own home.

"I think it's strange that you are trying to make today's posters feel guilty about wanting to be good parents AND good employees. At the same time! Imagine a country and a culture that supported BOTH!" (Leslie)

There are jobs, perfectly respectable jobs like miner and police officer and the others I listed, that will never afford flexible hours. Nor do the holders of such jobs have to feel in the least guilty about being good employees all day and good parents nights and weekends. I say that a country and a culture (and a good, strong Union!) that sees to it that the hard-working bus driver and sewer worker are paid enough to support a stay-at-home spouse and children is no figment of the imagination. We can have a country where that choice is available to everyone if we stop forcing our blue-collar and pink-collar workers to compete with maquiladora labor in Mexico, coolie labor in Singapore, child labor in India, prison slave labor in Red China, and subminimum-wage illegal alien labor right here.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | April 8, 2008 12:09 PM

Matt, no one is ENTITLED to be able to have a job that will pay (whatever) that will 'allow' a spouse to stay home with the kids.

The idea of a spouse to stay home with the kids is SO 1950s. It is an aberration. It is NOT real. Before that, it was pretty likely that both parents worked (or, the mom would bake bread from scratch, make clothes from scratch, etc - things people don't do today). But one parent 'home with the kids'? The kids were put to work as soon as they could be. No, I don't mean slave labor, but I mean planting the crops, or whatever they could help their parents with. Throughout history.

No one is entitled to any of that. You are dealt what you are dealt, and there you go.

I liken it to when fans complain that their team lost cause of the refs. Well, it SUCKS that you might have lost cause of that, but you had to be THAT MUCH BETTER in order to win. But you weren't so the team lost. Sucks, but that's the way life goes.

Of course, I do think we need to enforce our laws and figure out a way to keep people out who are not here legally, but that's another story.

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 12:28 PM

I cut a deal with my present employer.

They're a Beltway Bandit, and always looking for skilled staff the clients would like. Since the clients already liked me that was in my favor.

The best thing I did was to work at the office. It put me in a much better position to pick up odd hours as I wasn't out of sight and mind.

Posted by: RoseG | April 8, 2008 12:32 PM

Geez...not the whole "keep immigrants out" shtick. Next thing you know, this blog will get into forcing people to speak English.

ANYWAY...I am thinking along the same lines as what WorkingMomX said... that agencies or companies that can't offer telecommuting (or flex time, or part time work) are going to have trouble retaining the best employees.


Posted by: michelle | April 8, 2008 2:13 PM

I think we said: people who have broken the law shouldn't be here.

Nothing about immigrants at all.

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 2:16 PM

Love the idea of harnessing the PT/flextime parents. And I so agree with newslinks: "you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate"- the commentary of parents who are carving out careers that work around parenting is heartening for me (PT WAHM looking to work more and more).

Posted by: MamaBird/SurelyYouNest | April 8, 2008 2:16 PM

"Sounds like you've transported yourself back to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, . . . That's the worst of capitalism run amuck . . ."

Posted by: Leslie | April 8, 2008 11:36 AM

"We can have a country where that choice is available to everyone if we stop forcing our blue-collar and pink-collar workers to compete with maquiladora labor in Mexico, coolie labor in Singapore, child labor in India, prison slave labor in Red China, and subminimum-wage illegal alien labor right here."

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | April 8, 2008 12:09 PM

"Matt, no one is ENTITLED to be able to have a job that will pay (whatever) that will 'allow' a spouse to stay home with the kids.

The idea of a spouse to stay home with the kids is SO 1950s. It is an aberration. It is NOT real."

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 12:28 PM

It is real for tens of millions of families right today, in AD 2008. Why single out the one-earner choice and say that no one is entitled to that choice? What if some Procrustean Marxist were to declare that as long as some couples don't have even one job between the two of them, no couple is entitled to choose to occupy two jobs?

Atlmom, part of what Leslie rightly condemns as "the worst of capitalism run amuck" was the bosses pitting individual workers in wage competition with one another in order to drive wages down to the subsistence level. It took the Unions forty years of struggle, plus the Wagner Act signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt '03, to put a stop to that kind of competition and bring workers a decent living. Thanks to NAFTA and the WTO, two crowns of thorns forced onto the brow of the American worker by a couple of Yale graduates named Bush and Clinton, the bosses are at it again, offshoring and outsourcing to the anti-Union countries I mentioned above. And sweatshops staffed with illegally-smuggled-in Chinese workers operate today in New York City. Just as the Unions needed FDR's help 75 years ago to fend off the greedy, capitalistic bosses, so today's weakened Unions also need Government help to fight today's offshoring, outsourcing, and to ORGANIZE the cheap, illegal workers.

Don't you see that it's not just the would-be single-earner family that this kind of cutthroat labor competition hurts, but also two-earner families as well? And conversely, if Ralph the bus driver makes enough to support his wife Alice, and Ed the sewer worker makes enough to support his wife Trixie, then surely two educated, experienced intellect workers or businesspeople will be making enough to pay for child care when their children are little, and for a top-notch education for them when they are not so little.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | April 8, 2008 2:29 PM

I didn't say you're not entitled to a CHOICE - just that you're not entitled to a certain LIFESTYLE. Through the ages, it hasn't been so - why should it be now? Certainly, over time, there have been one earner families, but the NORM for MOST families is NOT that. To think that that *is* the norm is the folly.

If you want to, if you can, great. But don't pretend that the 50s lifestyle is the NORM. It is NOT.

And NAFTA is good for all parties involved. Free-er trade is better for everyone. Most importantly, the people who benefit are those who walk into target and buy jeans for $18. When i was growing up, it was a BARGAIN to find jeans for $20. We were ECSTATIC. Why? Because the price was that much higher. There you go.

Please stop with this class warfare. It's not becoming. Capitalism is the worst type of system (except for all the rest). Everyone, in the end, is out for themselves - so capitalism actually works out the best for all involved. And, also, look at what it has done for the US - private citizens give more to charities than anywhere else - of course, yes, we have the money to do so, but instead of buying more things, most people choose to give to charities. So, no, it doesn't breed selfish people, it breeds wealth, which most of us feel an obligation to share.

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 2:38 PM

Oh, and I meant to say: why is it you THINK that we have more than anyone else? Hmmm...

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 2:41 PM

My thoughts were aligned with Queen Curmudgeon. Our author does not want to work part time- she wants to work full time on her terms. That's great, but not the same issue as ongoing part time work.

Why are so many people always so shocked that they leave the workforce to put other priorities ahead of work, and then when they choose to bring work priorities up (a bit, not where they used to be) that it's not an easy simple slip back into their jobs which were/are taken by people who continue to make that the first priority?

Posted by: Liz D | April 8, 2008 2:55 PM

Actually, Liz, I was completely shocked that it took me only a few weeks to find a new job after more than three years out of the workforce. I made less money than I had before, but that was not a huge shock.

I had planned about six weeks for this looking for a job thing and then was quite surprised that I got one within a matter of weeks (or maybe, not even). I thought that perhaps it would be a difficult thing to do. But several companies have indicated since that it's no big deal to take time off from work for raisin' kids.

Posted by: atlmom | April 8, 2008 3:01 PM

Wow, so much said today. Actually, I think being able to move in and out of the job force probably depends a lot of connections, marketability, market conditions etc... But like Liz said, you should probably lower your expectations if you leave for the work force for several years. Doesn't mean that you can't work your way up again, but to expect to just pick up where you left off is probably unrealistic for most people. Matt, I think no matter what you wish for the days of unions are probably long gone. We live in a global world and the US work force will just have to adjust to the fact that there is international competition. I agree with altmom, that the one income earner was a very brief point in US history. Actually even in the 50s, there were still plenty of two income earners. It was just the majority of the middle class and above experienced a one income earner household.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 8, 2008 3:38 PM

Rose G makes a good point.. best way to secure flexible work is to develop a good reputation amongst peers/clients. I worked on a project where a consultant from another firm almost left the project [as in she was prepared to quit] and was offered a 32 hour, 4 day schedule. The client liked her, her work was valued and her company made arrangements.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | April 8, 2008 3:45 PM

atlmom's experience is what i found in surveying women who'd been home. it is easier to go back than you think. a few big caveats:

1) don't expect to go back at a higher level than you left (this is obvious, but because former peers may have advanced it's tempting to think you should be at their level)

2) go back fulltime, since part-time jobs are harder to find than a needle in a haystack. instead of focusing on PT, look for something that offers flexibility to work at home or make up hours at night or on the weekends.

3) look for work in the same field you left, where your achievements, education and recommendations mean the most

Posted by: Leslie | April 8, 2008 3:58 PM

"Something has got to give." That's what my wise mother always told me about working and having a family. She taught me to be aware of what it was that was "giving", and know if I was OK with that. I am OK with my career "giving" during these most special years of my life when my kids are in my home. I know it won't always be this way. Before I know it, they will be raised and on their own (hopefully!). At that time, my priorities will shift.

I am thankful work is changing in a way that allows me work during this stage of my life, so when I enter the next phase of my career, it will make for a smoother transition. I am thankful I can work in a position that puts my experience to work. I expect that those who make work their priority reap the rewards.

Posted by: kathleen Wiant - guest blogger | April 8, 2008 4:41 PM

"I expect that those who make work their priority reap the rewards."

Sometimes the "reward" is simply the opportunity to remain employed. Period.

Posted by: Queen Curmudgeon | April 8, 2008 5:08 PM

Queen Curmudgeon is a much better name Chitty.

Posted by: Love the name | April 8, 2008 6:14 PM

Another great site I recently came across is Beyondmotherhood.com, it's a job board for moms. I emailed the owner to find out more info...the site recently launched and is open to moms and employers nationwide. I'm going to keep my eye on it as it matures...it's about time sites like these started!

Posted by: Wendy | April 12, 2008 7:30 AM

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