Challenges for working mothers Tips for working moms pursuing career advancement Summary
The number of working mothers is on the rise in Japan. According to the 2019 data from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the number of working mothers reached 29.92 million, increasing by 460,000 from the previous year (a 1.6% increase). In Japan, where the workforce is shrinking, these moms are particularly valuable. Recently, more companies have been offering support systems for working parents. However, support systems and structures for career development and job transitions for working mothers still have room for improvement, leading many to feel uncertain about transitioning jobs. In this article, we interviewed Jayvie Silang, Recruiting Associate Director in Finance and Accounting, who is a working mother herself, to ask the common challenges faced by working mothers in job searches, transitions, and career advancement, and share practical tips to overcome those challenges.
Struggling to balance work and family life For working mothers, the burden of housework and childcare can be demanding, and it is not easy to fulfill both work and family responsibilities. This is particularly the case in Japan, where the childcare support is not as widespread compared to other countries. A 2019 survey by Rinnai Corporation on "Childcare Situations for Working Moms" revealed that babysitting rates in the United States stood at 52.0%, and childcare service usage rates in Sweden were 77%. However, in Japan, only 7.0% utilized babysitting services, and 25% used childcare services. This discrepancy underscores Japan's lack of established social structures for childcare support, making achieving work-life balance a significant uphill battle for working moms. Anxiety about career progression While many women successfully return to work after maternity leave, there's still anxiety looming. A 2022 survey by Yume Technology Japan targeting women who returned to work as full-time employees within the past year after childcare leave found that 24% faced "quite a few" barriers, while 53.7% faced "some." Among these, 46.6% cited issues like "not maintaining the career/position built before childcare leave," 27.4% struggled with "understanding the business or company's direction," and 25% felt "unable to utilize their skills and experiences." These findings reveal that many working moms grapple with uncertainties or obstacles in advancing their careers and skill sets post-childcare leave, even if their reintegration into the workforce goes smoothly. Difficulty finding supportive work environments Working moms often find themselves juggling work commitments with school events and their children's health concerns, leading to unavoidable absences. This shift from pre-childcare leave work routines and time management can shrink job scopes and impede self-improvement crucial for career growth, resulting in anxiety and frustration. Hence, establishing robust support systems both at home and in the workplace is vital. Worries over employment gaps following maternity leave For some working moms, taking a career break after childbirth is a choice, with plans to return to work when their children are older. However, concerns linger about the prospects of re-entering the workforce after being away for an extended period. They also wrestle with how to effectively use their skills and career experiences accumulated over the years. Juggling cherished family time with maintaining their value to their companies, all while fretting about career advancement compared to peers and younger colleagues presents a dilemma for many working moms.
So, how can working moms overcome these hurdles they often face? Jayvie offers the following advice for working moms aiming for career transitions and advancements. Master time management The first tip is to master time management. Working moms juggle numerous tasks related to work, household chores, and childcare on a daily basis, all within limited timeframes. To make the most of their time, it's essential to prioritize tasks effectively. Start by identifying essential tasks and breaking them down into manageable chunks. Remember, you don't have to tackle everything alone or all at once. Discuss childcare responsibilities and timelines with your family, and at work, learn to prioritize tasks based on what you can deliver and setting realistic expectations is key. If support is needed, being open and collaborative in streamlining processes and task allocation can make a significant difference. This approach fosters understanding and ensures smoother workflows within the team and less pressure in trying to juggle to finish everything on your own. It promotes a supportive environment where everyone works together towards common goals, ultimately leading to greater efficiency and success. "The key is to remember you don’t have to do everything by yourself", Jayvie says. Engage your family and people around you in the journey Don't hesitate to reach out to those around you for support. Transitioning jobs doesn't just disrupt your work routine; it can also add stress to family life. That's why involving both sides of the family, as well as close friends, is crucial. Clear communication about your needs and the type of support you require will help establish a smoother support system. Connect with the community of other working moms Another tip is to connect with other working moms who share similar experiences. By connecting with them, you can gain practical advice, observe them as role models, and learn effective strategies for balancing childcare and advancing your career. Sharing experiences from other workplaces, tips for job hunting, and insights into the latest trends can provide valuable perspectives beyond discussions with family and bosses. Seek guidance in job searching Don't rush during your job search; make thoughtful decisions. When considering a new employer, thoroughly research and analyze factors such as job discretion, flexibility, cultural fit with your lifestyle considering childcare, and whether your skills and career path can be utilized. You may feel pressured to jump at the first opportunity, but choosing a workplace that aligns with your future work-life balance and happiness requires careful consideration through discussions with your family. Additionally, it's important to seek advice from career advisors and mentors who can provide guidance based on their experiences and expertise. Explore contract or project-based roles Going back to a full-time role might feel overwhelming, which is why looking into contract positions could be helpful. Contract-based jobs, like short-term projects or part-time work, offer flexibility and are great for bridging career gaps. Moreover, if you're worried about those gaps, taking courses or getting certifications on platforms like LinkedIn can boost your skills. Sharing what you've learned during job searches can make you more competitive. As Jayvie says, "There's always something to learn from every experience." Plus, getting advice from recruitment consultants can give you valuable insights into how to use your skills and explore future job opportunities.
“Make self-care a priority and believe in yourself,” Jayvie sends out a message of encouragement amidst the challenging environment surrounding working moms in Japanese society. "Above all, prioritizing self-care is the most important thing, as challenging as it may be. Regardless of finding the perfect company or a supportive network, if you're not prioritizing yourself and your well-being, it will all be challenging. And most importantly, believe in yourself. As an employee and a parent raising a child, there may be weeks or months where you doubt your abilities. But remember, it's all part of the incredible journey of personal development and motherhood, where we embrace opportunities to grow, adapt, and nurture the next generation. Trust the process. Don't forget to celebrate small victories. We must celebrate our failures too, as they are the stepping stones to our strength and growth, and we can learn from them."
If you're a working mother considering a career change or wanting to discuss your future career, feel free to consult with Robert Half. You can submit your resume or explore the latest job opportunities.