So, last week I wrote up my notes from Workfest, which included the excellent advice to maximise your social capital: everything you’ve done for which you’re not paid (although presumably there are limits, unless your marriage has taken the barter system to a whole new level) when applying for jobs after a career break. It got me thinking. What have seven years of parenthood taught me that I could turn to good use in an interview situation? Here are my *ahem* transferable skills:
1. Understanding customer’s requirements
At some stage between their first and second birthdays, children will start to use recognisable words from their mother tongue. Unfortunately, their use of these words may not always be reliable, and requires careful decoding in order to defuse tantrums.
“Muuummmy, I’m hungry”
“Would you like a banana?”
“Nooooooooo! I want something to eat!”
2. Remaining calm under pressure
Nothing confers zen-like calm in the face of adversity more than the repeated discovery that a child needs, or indeed has had, a poo when there are mere seconds left before leaving the house. Shit happens. Parents are world-class at dealing with it*, both literally and metaphorically.
*may depend on sleep levels the night before
3. Negotiating skills
Anyone who’s ever had a toddler knows that confrontation will, at best, win a hollow victory. The most contentious, hard-nosed, workplace discussions hold no fear for a woman who has faced down a two-year old determined to wear a swimming costume for the school run. When it’s snowing.
It’s a happy day when the eldest child starts school. Not (just) because s/he is out of the house for several hours a day, but because an 8.55 start helps tremendously in crow-barring the family out of its respective pyjamas before lunchtime. Days at home without structure can be very long. Parents develop excellent planning skills to navigate their offspring through the hours between breakfast and bed. Which leads perfectly into:
You rise, smug in the knowledge that you have a day’s activities sketched out ahead of you. Then the forecast sunshine turns to rain, your playdate friend rings to say they’ve got a sick bug, and the morning’s painting session runs out of steam by 9.20. The ability to think on your feet and quickly adapt to a fast changing environment*? Second nature to a parent
*may include CBeebies
6. Time Management
There is nothing faster and more efficient on earth than a woman who knows the baby may start crying Any Minute Now. Or that there are 7.5 minutes left of this episode of Thomas.
(Disclaimer: the fact that she may choose not to demonstrate these skills but instead have a refreshing dip into Twitter in no way negates this)
7. Team working
The success of any workplace depends on how effectively its leadership is in getting people do stuff they don’t want to do. Cajoling, coaxing (and, frankly, bribing) are the bread and butter (or chocolate buttons) of any household. Watch that department fly.
8. Communication skills
“Able to communicate effectively with a wide range of service users”
Translation: can move seamlessly from bellow to hiss to Joyce Grenfell (when there’s someone here for tea)
9. Budgeting and financial management
Just Say No. Or pretend you left your purse at home.
Yes, it’s a cliche. Doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Changing a nappy while on the phone to the bank. Making tea while helping with homework.
Cleaning the bathroom while on Twitter. It may, however, be an idea to leave out of the discussion the times you shouted at the poor Barclays lady to GET DOWN FROM THERE, YOU’VE GOT A DIRTY BOTTOM or put the reading book away in the fridge with the cheese.
I probably ought not to mention either that I’ve been perfectly happy to date to be paid in cuddles.