Among her many titles – wife, mom to three boys, recruiter, blogger and friend – Alexis Small refers to herself as a “career enthusiast.”
Career enthusiast: one who is highly interested in all things pertaining to careers.
Small loves resumes, the hunt for the right candidate and the conversations and soul-searching associated with finding the right role or opportunity.
During her own career journey, she’s been the breadwinner, the corporate worker and a [pharmaceutical] sales rep. Today, as a physician recruiter, Small believes she has finally found her own dream job, and she aspires to help more working women do the same.
“It took me 15 years to get here,” said Small. “But I realize everything happens for a reason, and I’m so
grateful to be in a role allowing me to combine my sales background with helping individuals find the right career.”
For many working moms, or moms looking to get back into the workforce, it can be daunting to navigate the job search.
Sure, the role itself is important, but there is also the culture of an organization, the team, and the desire for flexibility.
How do you break through today’s cluttered candidate pools?
Do you ask about work-life balance?
How do you present yourself?
While there are a zillion books on career and job searching and interviewing, I wanted to interview Small to gather some insights and tips specific to working moms finding the right career.
Where to begin …
Small advises all individuals to their D.R.E.A.M job and [by] initially focusing on self-reflection before sending out tons of resumes.
Discover your own gifts, strengths and passions – and recognize these can change over time. What lit you up when you were in your early 20s may not be the same in your 30s and 40s.
Research opportunities aligning with these gifts and passions.
Explore jobs in the area. Do opportunities exist?
Apply yourself. This may come in the form of actually applying for jobs or finding and contacting actual hiring managers.
Make it happen. Get the interview, stand out from the crowd, impress.
How to interview for flexibility …
Working moms want to highlight their professional credentials and show they are up for the challenge, but in the back of their minds, they also want to know hiring managers and companies are going to be cool about taking off for a child’s performance, or caring for a sick kid. So how do you find out if the company supports balance?
Small suggests first checking out the company’s website. Do they promote these values? If they do, ask for specific examples about how the company lives these values?
“The interview process goes both ways,” said Small. “Just as the hiring manager is asking you the tough questions, you can also ask questions to discover how people work within an organization and what is valued. Come right out and ask ‘What are your expectations around work hours?’”
And while you don’t want to necessarily stereotype, Small said she has found through her own experience that managers who are also working parents tend to “get the juggle” and need for flexibility, so they will be accommodating.
Do I mention my kids???
Companies obviously should not ask this question, but Small said she’s OK mentioning her own family if the conversation naturally goes in that direction.
“What’s most important when interviewing is to be you,” said Small. “Be personable and relaxed, and the hiring manager will likely be more relaxed. My family is a big part of my life, so if they come up, I’m OK with that, but I don’t lead with it and go on and on.”
She says it might feel like the hiring company has the upper hand, but you need to make sure the fit is right for you. If the company is asking about your “biggest weakness,” don’t be shy about countering with a question about the hiring manager’s “biggest weakness” or a challenge faced by the company.
“It’s easier to find a job when you have a job,” said Small. “So if you are in that position, ask the tough questions to see if you really want to make the move. This is a life decision, so you owe it to yourself to do your due diligence.”
To learn more about Alexis and her tips and insights around working motherhood, check out her the blog [she co-founded with her former co-worker] called MommyWurk.com. She additionally offers career coaching, and guidance around navigating the job search.
Have you been in the job search phase during the past few years?
What has most surprised you?
Do you have other tips to share with working moms looking to transition?