When we hear the phrase "ticking clock" applied to a woman's personal life, we usually assume the word "biological" belongs in the middle. But now two recruiters who specialize in finding part-time work for mothers describe another ticking clock -- one related to going back into the workforce after the kids are born.
Women Like Us, a London-based recruiting firm, surveyed 1,554 women to find out how they were approaching their eventual return to work after their children were born. They found that worry about re-entering the workforce starts surprisingly early, and and isn't disposed of easily. Specifically:
-- More than half of women said that worry about their return to work kept them up at night. Some 56% of the women surveyed said that worries about re-entering the workforce was causing them to lose sleep. And since many of these women have young children, you can bet they don't have much extra sleep to give up!
-- The greatest single concern is fitting work and family schedules together. Nearly half of women -- 43% -- said this was a concern. Twelve percent of women were stressed because they didn't know what sort of job they should apply for next, and 9% were worried about the prospect of going on job interviews again.
-- A large share of these women seem to be pretty much consumed by worry. Some 36% say they worry about finding work at least six times a day (once every few hours). An additional 10% say they worry about finding work more than ten times a day.
-- Worry starts early. One in ten of the women surveyed say they first started worrying about returning to work before their children were born, when they were still pregnant.
Says Karen Mattison, the co-founder of Women Like Us:
Many of us have our own internal "ticking career clocks" and the stress surrounding the search for work post-children is clearly keeping many women awake at night. There are so many issues to work through: "Should I go back to my old career, or is it time to start anew? How should I cover the break to have kids on my [resume]? Where do I even begin looking for jobs in today's market?"
Unfortunately, this worry appears to be well-placed, according to research from the Center for Work-Life Policy. In 2009, the Center surveyed 3,420 professional women about their experience taking time off from work for childcare or other reasons. The results, published in May, 2010, showed that.
-- Seventy-three percent of women who take a voluntary timeout from work (whether for childcare or other reasons) have trouble finding a job when they're ready to come back.
-- Women who return to the workforce after a timeout lose an average of 16% of their earning power.
-- Women who return also commonly report a decrease in the level of responsibility given them. A quarter say the job they took after their timeout came with a decrease in management responsibilities. Nearly that many -- 22% -- say they had to step down to a lower job title.
What changes would make it easier for workers -- both men and women -- to take a break from their working lives if their personal situations demanded it?
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