As a stay at home mom returning to work, I had to bite my tongue a few times not to laugh at interviewers and hiring managers. If I was lucky, my face would only show a smile that was (hopefully) interpreted as being friendly.
So, moms, do you work well under pressure? YES!!
Granted, you are not likely to encounter massive temper tantrums, or 3 tired kids, or food meltdowns at work – at least I hope you don’t. But if you are able to handle parenting, you will likely be able to handle whatever work throws at you.
The trick is in how you share that experience on your resume.
I have found that it is best to list this under your summary or skills section unless you have a specific example from work or volunteer experiences. If it is from a specific work or volunteer experience, make that an important note in that description, especially if it is a skills that was noted on the job description.
Once you do get the interview, you can explain so much more.
If you are lucky enough to get another parent, you may not even need to mention the parenting part. They will just know. It will be in that all-knowing look parents give each other as they walk past each other at the grocery store with whining children.
If the interview feels right, you can even make a well-placed joke about parenting: “You mean other than parenting?” Granted, you will have to have a VERY good feel for the interviewer or this will fall flat.
Unfortunately, most interviewers will not see parenting as valid experience when it come to work under pressure. That is really unfortunate, as us parents are professionals at it!
The best way to demonstrate this skill, then, is to find an example, no matter how distant, and use that to tell your story of performance under pressure. You are not required to explain how distant that experience is – once a lesson learned, always a lesson learned. Focus on what you learned through the experience and how you are better equipped in the future.
Did someone move a deadline on you? Was there a sub-contractor or employee who didn’t come through? Did you have a supplier disappear? Was your featured speaker late? Did you show up to a major sales pitch only to realize you forgot your papers?
There is a story to tell and a lesson learned at some point that does not involve diapers and tantrums. Share that in the interview and save the other stories for after you are hired.
And if you do happen to have a job where it feels like you are herding 2-year-olds, by all means, mention how well you can avert a tantrum!!