Over the past two weeks I’ve been interviewing for the Confident4Work Project: senior managers, student advisers, and some wonderful mothers who shared their stories and aspirations with me.
I am very thankful to all those people for their willingness to give me their time, and for their candour as we’ve talked. All I asked was 30 minutes and they were half hours well spent.
Eventually I’ll put all the interview information together, but for those not (yet) involved with the project, I thought I’d give you an indication of the sorts of questions I’ve been asking.
Among the questions I’ve been asking people who’ve been out of the workforce are:
- Are you intending to go back to the sort of work you were doing before, or are you hoping to do something different?
- Is there any sort of information or advice that would help you at this point or closer to the time to prepare to return to the workforce?
- What are your main concerns in preparing to return to the workforce and in making the transition back to work?
I also talked to a person who had not only returned to work after a break from the workforce, but in her new role had helped to recruit a new person to the organisation, so was able to offer a perceptive view from both sides.
Senior people in management and human resources responded candidly and helpfully to such questions as:
- What are the most significant changes in say the last 5-10 years in the sort of work your organisation does?
- Given that all applicants are normally required to address the same selection criteria, how might an applicant for a position improve their chances of being selected for an interview?
- What advice would you give to a person who had been out of the workforce for a time to prepare themselves in ways that might maximise their chances of being employed in this organisation/industry?
You may recall that one of the triggers for this research was the report of an Australian survey of 550 mothers hoping to return to work that found two-thirds of them believed their skills and qualifications were out of date.
So I have included in my research advisers in universities who have had long experience with mature-age students returning to study. Their responses have been very illuminating. Among the questions I asked them were:
- What are the main issues mature-age students who have not undertaken study for some years or never been to university will have to deal with?
- What sort of preparation would you recommend for such students before they begin their university program?
- What advice would you give to a mature-age student coming back from a break, to maximise their chances of success at university?
Interviews are ongoing, and I plan to also include advisers from vocational education institutions (registered training organisations) in this project.
I’ll be reporting some of my findings on this website, so please click on the link to follow it if you want to keep up to date.
Until next time
US Article: ‘Does Being a Mom Help or Hurt Your Career?’