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Parents really do it all – so why don’t more employers recognise that when hiring?

Zofishan Umair

Zofishan Umair

Zofishan is a journalist, humour columnist, and a mum who has survived nappy explosions mid-air. She has over a decade of experience writing for print and online publications and is currently working on her first book.
Created on Oct 30, 2023 · 8 mins read

It was the year 2008, when Goldman Sachs launched a programme that offered structured, paid support for employees who had left their careers to raise families or other personal reasons. These employees, mostly women now wanted to return to the workforce but had found doors tightly shut.

And here was Goldman Sachs – a Fortune 500 company offering an opportunity that allowed potential workers to renter the workforce without compromising on the pay or job through a Returnship.

Because the company realised the potential these employees held.

“Offering flexibility and understanding will attract more prime candidates who are also parents,” shares Amanda Rose, who is a strategic connector, professional development trainer, business consultant and founder of 6 businesses.

She says, “Employers need to make it known that they are a family-friendly employer. Since there is such a stigma currently about taking time off paid work to care for children, potential employees may be reluctant to share the positive skills they have acquired as a stay-at-home parent. They may not even frame their valuable skills as something that can be transferred into the workplace.”

We all know parenting isn’t easy. From mid-night feedings, nappy changes to multi-tasking between homework, school pick-ups, and a sick child, it‘s a lot like being on the job 24/7. You work overtime, you work around your boss’s requests, and you hardly get any days off.

In a nutshell, it is a lot like being Miranda Priestly’s assistant, Andrea Sachs, except that this devil wears Baby GAP instead of a Prada.

But how do you translate that to a potential employer? And why should employers consider the skills of parents when hiring for a position?

Translating parenting skills to work skills

Scan any job requirement, and you’ll see the following list for an individual:

  • Organised
  • Motivated
  • Innovative
  • Must have excellent time management skills

Ostensibly, those are the same requirements you need to be a parent.  From organising the baby bag to planning weekly meals, and being motivated enough to do extra school projects after putting your kids to bed.

To be a parent you should have the ability to play therapist to your tween as you drop your teen off at football practice, and come home and be innovative and resourceful because your youngest conveniently forgot to mention a school project.

Now you’re standing in the kitchen, rummaging through supplies to whip up an excellent science experiment.

Why are parenting skills important?

While parenting and working might seem like two totally unrelated parts in a person’s life, the truth is that the skills people develop as parents actually make them more effective employees.

These parenting skills can greatly enhance their effectiveness in the workplace, and they can be of tantamount importance in the workplace.

“Out of necessity parents are experienced with multi-tasking. They can handle tantrum throwing and let’s face it, plenty of people in the workplace throw tantrums so that’s an incredibly handy skill to have,” Amanda says.

Thats not all. Parents are excellent at time management because they often balance many responsibilities and obligations while still making time for their kids. This requires a high degree of organisational skills and the ability to prioritise tasks effectively, which can translate into greater productivity and efficiency on the job.

Additionally, parents are often highly adept at communication, problem-solving, and conflict resolution; do you know the number of times you have to negotiate sibling rivalries before noon?

When parents bring these skills into the workplace, they can help to create a more positive and productive work environment. As such, employers would do well to recognise the importance of parenting skills and consider how they can foster an environment that supports and encourages employees to develop these important abilities.

The pros of being a working parent don’t just stop there.

In addition to time management, parenting skills can contribute to an employee’s effectiveness in other ways as well.

If you have tried to hold a conversation with an adult who has two toddlers, you will notice they break off just in time to save their child from jumping off a tree and manage to calmly jump back the conversation where they had left off.

Yep – all in a day’s work.

This ability to juggle multiple responsibilities can be a valuable asset in many workplaces, particularly in fast-paced environments where employees are expected to handle multiple tasks simultaneously.

And honestly, parents over time become highly resilient and adaptable. With time they learn they must be able to respond to unexpected situations and changes in plans at a moment’s notice. These qualities can help employees remain calm and focused under pressure, and quickly adjust to changing circumstances in the workplace.

Similarly, parents are often highly empathetic and attuned to the needs of others, which can make them effective communicators and team players in the workplace. It’s not just about numbers and profits for them-  its also about nurturing relationships with stakeholders, employees, clients, and their customers.


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Why do employers look for certain skills?

So, now that we know what parents bring to the table, it’s a great idea to explore what employers seek in candidates when hiring for a specific role.

Of course, these may vary based on the nature of the job. Most employers look for certain skills in employees because they want to hire individuals who can effectively perform the job duties and contribute to the success of the organisation.

Employers seek specific skills that align with the job requirements and the organisation’s goals, such as communication, problem-solving, teamwork, leadership, technical expertise, and adaptability.

Employers also seek individuals who are capable of learning and adapting to new technologies and industry trends to help the organization stay competitive.

So if you have kids, chances are you are trying to keep up with the tech lingo just to stay connected.

But how do you translate your skills on your resume? Amanda shares her wisdom.

“Look at the skills employers are looking for in their job ads and think of how you use those skills in your daily routine as a parent. Make sure to use the same language as the employer in communicating these skills and outcomes,” Amanda explains.

Why is it important for parents to work?

A Bloomberg study conducted in December 2022 predicted that there is a 70% chance of a recession in 2023. And while some parents work in order to continue to provide for their kids and further their careers, their decision to work impacts their kid’s personalities.

Children with working parents are more goal-oriented and have a better work ethic. These parents serve as positive role models for their children by demonstrating the importance of hard work, responsibility, and independence.

There’s a reason why taking your kid to work is so popular. The workplace can provide opportunities for parents to socialise with others, which can improve their overall well-being and reduce feelings of isolation.

And it is not just kids: Parents who work also have more opportunities for personal growth and development, such as learning new skills or taking on leadership roles. This is especially true for parents who are passionate about their careers.

Why do employers prefer employees with children?

For many years, mothers have faced a bias that has resulted in as much as a 7% decrease in their pay per child.

Unfortunately, this bias still exists.

But thanks to companies like Goldman Sachs, change is acoming– albeit quite slowly. Now many employers are realising that there are actually benefits to hiring employees with children.

Linkedin now lets parents to fill in that “gap” in their CV with “Stay-at-home” parent.

While Amanda feels its a good start, its not enough.

“I would take it a step further by rebranding “stay-at-home parent” into professional paid job titles like Project Manager or Conflict Resolution Specialist,” she says. “In no way does the stay-at-home-parent label truly reflect the huge and varied amount of work parents actually do.”

Employees with children often have strong time management and prioritisation skills, which can translate to better job performance and productivity. Additionally, employees who are parents have a better work ethic and behaviour and are more responsible than those who are not.

“Calling it by what it really is acknowledges the monetary value of the work parents do. Their labour is equivalent to the salary of a project manager, chef, driver, cleaner, therapist and more all rolled into one,” she adds.

Having employees with diverse backgrounds and experiences, including those with children, can also contribute to a more inclusive and welcoming workplace. Finally, supporting employees with families can lead to reduced turnover and longer retention of valuable employees.

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Returning to work after baby number two (and why it’s OK to ugly-cry at drop off)
Navigating the 5th trimester – returning to work on your terms

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