As the CEO of your household, you've been in charge of directing your kids' busy schedules -- and your own. "Moms have to approach their day strategically and multitask," says Heinze. The ability to plan and manage time well is "exactly the type of skill hiring managers look for," she explains.
Moms quickly become adept at making a great Plan B (and C, D, and E...). "With young kids, you never know how your day's going to go," Heinze notes. Maybe naptime doesn't happen when it should and your kid throws a tantrum just as you get to the grocery store, or the sitter cancels 20 minutes before the PTA meeting; either way, you have to figure out a new strategy, stat. "You learn to think on your feet and react in the moment," Heinze says. In today's workplace, where employees are expected to take on more work than ever and wear multiple hats, "you really need to have that kind of attitude," she adds.
When it comes to overseeing household finances (everything from bill paying to clipping coupons and finding sales), moms typically take the lead. That's good news from a potential employer's perspective -- especially in a tough economy. "If you're handling your family finances, it means you know how to assess the moving pieces of a project and recognize waste," says Heinze. Managers will appreciate knowing you have experience streamlining costs.
If you're like most moms you've gradually built up a strong support system of other parents. From organizing playgroups to trading child-care services to carpooling, you've learned to identify how you can be of value to others -- and how they can help you in return. According to Heinze, all this requires an ability to make new connections, team-build, and empathize with and support others, which can a real positive in the workplace. Not only is it an important skill for getting along with coworkers, it's key to building business by bringing in new projects and clients.
Any mom who's ever had to potty train a toddler knows that raising kids requires patience in spades. Parenthood often means taking the perspective of another person in order to understand conflict. This skill can come in handy in many work environments, "especially if you'll be working in customer service, retail, and other industries that lend themselves to nurturing personalities," says Heinze.
"Being a mom is a nonstop job," Heinze points out. "Maybe you're sick or you hardly slept the night before, but you still have to be there for your kids and prepare meals." All that practice powering through exhaustion, illness, and the occasional strained neck or back means that mothers develop a tenacity that employers can appreciate. Explain that you stick with things and don't give up just because you're feeling overwhelmed or having a bad day.
Originally published in the March 2012 issue of Parents magazine.