Cheeky Logo
Ready To Get Hired?
Apply To Book A Free Call With Our Transition Specialist Team

I Took A Break To Have Kids And It Hurt My Resume. Here’s How I Got Hired Anyway

I knew it would be him, or it would be me.

My husband and I both had academic appointments that were about to end, had a baby on the way, and neither of us had a new job lined up.

My husband was applying online for industry positions and I was preparing applications for faculty positions, but we were running out of time.

And then, we became parents.

Six weeks early.

We did our best to finish our research projects while learning to be parents and still searching for jobs.

My husband learned of a job opening for a brand new position at a company where an old labmate worked.

They had kept in touch over the years and the strong referral fast-tracked him through the interview process.

He had an offer.

A month later, we moved and my husband started his new job.

I had left my research project behind and abandoned my search for a faculty position.

I was home alone with a baby in a new city where I didn’t know anyone.

I had no idea what I wanted to do with my career.

I took some time to meet other local moms and started get back in touch with old colleagues to learn what they were doing.

I had some informational interviews, but was still looking for direction.

I really didn’t know what my options were.

I got an alternative career mentor.

Soon, I learned that I had lots of options in terms of career paths.

There were lots of other PhDs like me who were finding their way.

I became more confident knowing that I was on the right track with networking.

I knew what kinds of questions to ask and finally, what kind of job I wanted.

I also learned about my core competencies and what I enjoyed doing.

I started consulting and was invited to work on more projects with the same client.

I was learning about industry and I still had time to spend with my daughter.

Life was good.

My network kept growing.

My confidence returned.

More opportunities arose.

Why Caring For A Child Is Not The End Of Your Industry Transition

Having a child to care for does not mean that you need to put your job search aside.

It is also not something that you need to hide.

There are companies out there who are family-friendly and will support you as a working parent.

But sadly, there are also companies that are not family-friendly.

According to a survey by Indeed, 83% of respondents who had children felt some level of pressure to return to work during their leaves.

But, that leaves 17% of respondents working somewhere that fully and completely supported their parental leaves.

That’s where you want to aim to work.

That is where you will find high levels of job satisfaction.

A survey by the Fairygodboss, found that 93% of women who are highly satisfied with their jobs rated their companies as being family-friendly.

Meanwhile, only 41% of women who were not satisfied with their jobs said that their companies were family-friendly.

Clearly, a family-friendly company is correlated with higher job satisfaction.

But, how do you find a family-friendly company?

And then, how do you get hired at these companies?

By doing your research, by talking with people, and by being honest with yourself about what is truly important to you.

5 Strategies To Find And Get Hired At Family-Friendly Companies

The right company and position for your phase of life and your values is out there.

But, it will take some effort on your part to find the right job for you.

You will need to be determined and not compromise your values.

Remember, as a PhD you are extremely valuable in industry, so don’t take a position unless you know it is right for you and your family.

Here are 5 strategies to help you find and get hired at a family-friendly company that suits your specific needs…

1. Have informational interviews with other working parents.

Being a PhD looking to transition into industry while being a parent who wants to be able to spend time with their family is a tough spot.

It’s confusing enough leaving academia behind and learning how to get hired in industry.

And, on top of that, as a parent, you will have specific qualities that you want in an employer.

Flexibility.

Parental resources.

Good health benefits.

Just to name a few.

So, how do you find out about these traits before you sign a contract to work somewhere?

Informational interviews.

By having informational interviews with other working parents, you can learn about their experiences — both good and bad.

You can learn what companies or positions are family-friendly.

And, if you meet someone who tells you that their company is very family-friendly, you now have an internal contact there — a potential referral.

Ask the people you have informational interviews with what they think are the most important indicators that a company is family-friendly.

Ask how they found out if a company was family-friendly.

This person knows what it’s like to be in your shoes, so ask them how they have successfully found their balance with work and family life.

2. Use online resources to locate family-friendly companies in your area.

The Internet is your friend during your job search.

Not only can you use LinkedIn to have informational interviews with other working parents, but you can learn a lot about a company.

First, look at a company’s website.

Look for keywords in their mission statement or vision statement indicating that they are a family-friendly company.

Use third-party review sites to assess the family-friendliness of a company.

Websites like Glassdoor and Indeed have company reviews that can help you decide if the culture of a company is right for you.

There are also other websites focused specifically on evaluating the family-friendly nature of companies.

Look at websites such as In Her Sight, Comparably, Fairygodboss, and other similar sites.

These sites often have objective reviews and surveys from women and parents who have worked at specific companies.

If you have no clue where to start your job search, these resources are a great place to start.

And, once you have identified a few target companies, you can reach out to specific people who work there for informational interviews.

3. Consider working from home, because many companies encourage this now.

Remote work is rapidly growing in popularity.

Employees are enjoying the work time flexibility and employers enjoy a savings because they don’t have to maintain an office.

Most jobs can be done remotely part-time, and there are many full-time remote positions.

Careers in writing and editing are common remote jobs.

As a PhD, you have developed incredible writing and editing skills.

For STEM PhDs, medical and technical writing are great work-from-home options.

These positions allow you the flexibility to work the hours you want.

You can work when your child is asleep, or for the few hours they are at school, and then not have to work when you are spending time with them.

Not a writer?

Other common remoting working options include:

1. software development
2. system engineers
3. project management
4. business or marketing analyst

When searching for positions, just include “work from home” in your search query.

You will likely be surprised by the huge number and variety of positions that can be done from home.

A few positions to avoid when looking for a family-friendly environment include MSL positions that cover a large territory, high-level consulting positions, and field application scientist positions that require lots of travel.

Another option growing in popularity with new parents is job sharing.

Job sharing is when 2 part-time employees share the responsibility of a full-time job, splitting the pay.

This allows parents to have a flexible working schedule while maintaining their connection to work.

There are websites where you can find job sharing opportunities that might be suitable to you.

Sites such as https://themomproject.com/ for those in the US can help you locate job sharing positions.

4. Be transparent (and confident) when speaking about parental leave on your resume.

Are you worried about the parental leave gap on your resume?

Well, you should stop being worried.

Instead, be confident about this time off.

It’s not like you were just sitting around doing nothing during your parental leave — you were bringing a life into the world!

Besides, resume gaps are actually very common.

At one point or another, nearly everyone has to take some time off, whether it’s for parental leave, to take care of a loved one, due to a health issue, etc.

Don’t succumb to the limiting belief that your resume gap is going to cause an employer to reject you.

Because, it’s just that, a limiting belief — it’s not actually true.

A company that values family will not have an issue with this work gap.

If, when you talk about this gap in an interview, the interviewers have a negative reaction, then you know that it’s not the right company for you.

By being open and confident about your values in an interview, you will attract companies that suit you and repel ones that don’t suit you.

It is okay to realize that a certain company is not for you.

Many PhDs are desperate for work and are often willing to compromise their values just to get hired.

This is a terrible decision.

If you want to find a company that aligns with your desire to spend time with your family you will have to be picky.

Do not take a job just because it pays well or just because it was offered to you.

You can find a company and a position that suits your lifestyle goals and supports your family-friendly mentality

5. Be alert and look for clues of disrupted work-life balance during onsite interviews.

During your onsite interview, be on the lookout for company culture indicators.

Remember, although the company is interviewing you, you are also interviewing them.

Do you see lots of kids drawings or pictures of kids on people’s desks?

A company that employs many parents is likely to be family-friendly.

Do you see a daycare center?

A clear sign that a company recognizes the needs of the parents who work for them.

Is there a lactation room for breastfeeding mothers?

Another sign that a company supports working mothers and provides the benefits they need to thrive.

You can also try to schedule your interview in the afternoon.

Then, when your interview is over at 5pm or so, assess how many people are still in the office.

If most people have cleared out for the day, then perhaps this would be a good place if you need to leave early to pick up your kids.

But, if everyone it still working at 5pm, then perhaps this isn’t the right company for you.

Use your onsite interview to learn as much as possible about the company culture to decide if it is a good fit for you.

Getting hired in industry as a PhD and a working parent may seem daunting. But, there are companies and positions that will suit your desired lifestyle. You just have to do your research and stand your ground when deciding if a company is right for you. To find jobs that are family-friendly, you can have informational interviews with other working parents, use online resources to locate family-friendly companies in your area, consider work-from-home jobs, be confident when speaking about the maternity or paternity gap on your resume, and be alert and look for clues while at an onsite interview. As a PhD, you are a highly valuable job candidate, so don’t rush into decisions based on desperation — take your time and find a company that suits you and your needs.

If you’re ready to start your transition into industry, you can apply to book a free Transition Call with our founder Isaiah Hankel, PhD or one of our Transition Specialists. Apply to book a Transition Call here.

Book a Transition Call
Get Free Job Search Content Weekly

ABOUT MARY TRUSCOTT, PHD

Mary has a PhD in Biochemistry and is the Operations Manager and Association Program Leader at Cheeky Scientist. She has a long-standing interest in helping PhDs succeed - she co-founded and led a university postdoc association, established several professional accountability groups, and is currently developing a PhD co-working community project. Mary also runs her own communications consulting business and co-chairs the Board of Trustees at an independent non-profit preschool.

Mary Truscott, PhD

Similar Articles

How PhDs Can Avoid The Overqualified Label To Get Hired

How PhDs Can Avoid The Overqualified Label To Get Hired

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

“We regret to inform you that we will not be moving forward with your application due to concerns that your qualifications exceed those required for the role.  We feel it would not be a good fit. Thank you for applying.”  Oof, that’s part of a rejection email a PhD sent me. An employer had sent it to them after the first interview.  Another PhD told me this recently… “I feel like I’m both overqualified and underqualified for the jobs I apply to Isaiah.”  Which do you feel is more of a problem for you? I asked.  “At first I thought…

How To Answer “Why Are You Leaving Academia?” (& 4 Scientific Ways To Convince Employers To Hire You) 

How To Answer “Why Are You Leaving Academia?” (& 4 Scientific Ways To Convince Employers To Hire You) 

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

“‘Why do you want to work here more than anywhere else? And why are you leaving academia?’ Those are the questions I got stuck on, Isaiah.  I told them why I liked their company, mainly because it was aligned with my values, but I also wanted to be fair and ethical so I told them that I was considering other companies. Then I explained that academia was no longer a good fit because I wanted to do more than write grants all day.”  “Okay, I replied, anything else? What did you say after that?” “I asked them a few clarifying…

Should You Apply To More Than One Job At A Company? (& 3 Other Tough Job Search Questions Answered)

Should You Apply To More Than One Job At A Company? (& 3 Other Tough Job Search Questions Answered)

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

“Isaiah, I applied to ThermoFisher two weeks ago and a hiring manager got in touch with me and I had my first interview…. But then a second hiring manager reached out to me about another job I applied to there.  I started talking to this second manager and they asked if I applied to any other positions there.  I couldn’t lie so I told them about the other job and the other hiring manager.  Now, neither of the hiring managers will get back to me.  What should I do?”  This is what a PhD told me over the phone last…

How LinkedIn Ranks Job Seekers With PhDs, EdDs & Other Degrees

How LinkedIn Ranks Job Seekers With PhDs, EdDs & Other Degrees

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

“Be real Isaiah, there’s not a government bureau keeping track of how our resumes perform.”  This is what a frustrated job seeker said to me recently.  “What do you mean I have a reputation score?” they asked.  “Of course there’s not a bureau dedicated to this, at least not yet” I said.  “But you absolutely are being scored and ranked” I went on, “and your ranking is used to indicate how reputable you are as a job seeker.”  This is what I’ve explained to countless people looking for a job in today’s job market, most of whom were getting initial…

How The Academic PhD Job Market Was Destroyed

How The Academic PhD Job Market Was Destroyed

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

“I spent over a year looking for a job in academia and flew to multiple interviews. I didn’t get one offer.” A PhD told me this recently and many other PhDs have told me similar stories.  Of course, the stories involve more than just looking for a job for a year.  They involve living on a meager academic budget, trying to support themselves and their families, often in very expensive cities where many of the biggest universities are located.  They involve decisions to never go on a vacation, to feed their kids cheaper, less healthy food, and to work all…

Give Yourself The Gift Of Leaving Academia Forever

Give Yourself The Gift Of Leaving Academia Forever

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

My last year in academia, I didn’t have enough money to fly home for Christmas. So I spent it in Iowa City, mostly alone.  I was broke (of course) so I decided to shovel snow out of driveways for $10 per driveway. I remember thinking how ridiculous it was to be a PhD shoveling snow for money. “What I wouldn’t give to have a better job”, I thought.  That was the gift I wanted for Christmas and the holidays.  A better job.  Not to be a student or a postdoc or an academic PhD getting paid less than I was…

The Ideal Keyword Density For Targeting Your PhD Resume To An Industry Job Posting

The Ideal Keyword Density For Targeting Your PhD Resume To An Industry Job Posting

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Writing a resume for an industry job is one of the biggest sticking points I see with PhDs entering the job market.  What worked even a year ago is not working today due to recent and rapidly accelerating advances in Applicant Tracking Systems.  These systems, called ATS or just AI today, are software tools used by companies to filter resumes.  They scan for specific keywords related to the job role, abilities, credentials, and qualities desired in a candidate.  As a PhD seeking very competitive roles, including relevant keywords in your resume is essential to pass through these systems and get…

AI Is Replacing Recruiters. Here’s How PhD Job Seekers Should Adapt

AI Is Replacing Recruiters. Here’s How PhD Job Seekers Should Adapt

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

“I had a recruiter reach out to me, Isaiah, and after I gave them my resume and answered their questions, they never got back to me. What should I do?”  I hear this a lot.  I also hear, “Isaiah, I was on the phone with a recruiter and as soon as they heard that I needed a visa, they hung up” …”or as soon as they heard I had no industry experience, they hung up.”  Man, I personally hate this. What a waste of time. The recruitment industry is broken.  The good news is its being devoured by Artificial Intelligence,…

Why PhDs Are Powerhouses Of Productivity (& How It Can Get Your Hired)

Why PhDs Are Powerhouses Of Productivity (& How It Can Get Your Hired)

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

“Nothing makes sense today in the job market”, a PhD expressed to me recently.  “No one is responding to my resumes. I don’t understand why they would ask for a scientist at the company and then not even want to talk to me”, they said. They went on: “I’ve even had some friends refer to me, but still didn’t get an interview. I feel like I made a mistake getting my PhD.”  It’s hard hearing this from PhDs who invested so much in their education and in advancing research for humanity.  Still, I hear it a lot.  My response is…

Top Industry Career eBooks

63 Best Industry Positions For PhDs

63 Best Industry Positions For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD & Arunodoy Sur, PhD

Learn about the best 63 industry careers for PhDs (regardless of your academic background). In this eBook, you will gain insight into the most popular, highest-paying jobs for PhDs – all of which will allow you to do meaningful work AND get paid well for it.

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Learn how to craft the perfect industry resume to attract employers. In this eBook for PhDs, you will get access to proven resume templates, learn how to structure your bullet points, and discover which keywords industry employers want to see most on PhD resumes.

AI & ATS Resume Filters

AI & ATS Resume Filters

Isaiah Hankel

In today's competitive job market, understanding the impact of AI is crucial for career success. This involves ensuring your resume stands out in the digital realm, mastering your online presence, and being aware of how AI assigns reputation scores. Discovering how to leverage AI to your advantage is essential, as it plays a pivotal role in shaping professional opportunities.

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel

The LinkedIn tips & strategies within have helped PhDs from every background get hired into top industry careers.