Every day I hear from women who’ve taken a career break to raise their children. My friends are some of them—returners. Unfortunately, the financial consequences for women who’ve taken a break as they hit retirement can be devastating. That’s why finding a way to work that ramps you up—like job sharing—is important, but landing a position that values your education, past career experience, and the entire skillset you’ve gained as a parent, is vital to getting your career & financial plans back on track.
There are 3 million educated, talented women in the U.S. ready to return to their careers. Unfortunately, there are still some pretty demoralizing biases against women (or men for that matter) who’ve taken a break to raise human beings or care for aging parents. And 90% of caregivers in the U.S. are women, so finding the right tools to hit the game running for your relaunch is important.
One of the most inspiring aspects of starting Work Muse is meeting changemakers advancing equality in the workplace and innovating new ways to work, who provide tangible resources to help people thrive in their work and lives, career break or not.
For all my returners, I bring you Julia Freeland, Founder & CEO of REvolve YOU. Known for “waking people up”, Julia is a real resource to landing the job you deserve while working with Work Muse to ramp up job sharing with the built-in professional development that can be instrumental in relaunching your career.
Work Muse: You were a stay at home mom for ten years. When you were ready to return to your career when your youngest entered Kindergarten, a career coach told you that you’d earn half of what you earned prior. What did that do to you? And how did you become a REvolutionary?
Julia: He also told me I would be competing for jobs with new college grads and that I should “just put in one line explaining [my] 10 years off.” These statements made me want to reach across the desk and smack him! I didn’t. But I still wonder today how many women he has helped convince of their lack of value. I knew I had value. I refused to believe that my fifteen years of work experience, a graduate degree from Berkeley and undergrad in Mechanical Engineering wasn’t worth anything.
However, it wasn’t until I had struggled to get interviews for six months and then was told that “I was better suited for a coordinator role because of my time off” that I realized it was time to start a revolution. Something had to be done to change the way people looked at the value of time spent as a mom. Still, I knew I needed to relaunch my career and really learn about the business world of today before I could successfully help other moms relaunch their careers. By staying confident of my value, being willing to step down a little in title, and by not being afraid to call people on their biases, I finally landed a job that proved to be a great jumping off point for me. I regained my former Director title and was promoted three times within a year.
During this time, I worked to create and implement cultural change and professional development programs for Fortune 500 companies which gave me great insight into what was happening today and what companies were thinking about for the future.
(It) made me want to reach across the desk and smack him! I still wonder today how many women he has helped convince of their lack of value.
It was only after my own company started evolving to match the future needs of companies that I began to really understand what was needed to reinvent your career so you could be relevant in the future. That’s when I decided to start REvolve YOU — when I knew I had a product idea that was different than anything anyone had ever seen or experienced but would help people break through limited thinking so they could learn the skills needed to be relevant in the future.
Work Muse: Julia, you are known for “waking people up!” What does that mean and what motivates you to be the waker?
Julia: The world is changing a lot. Unfortunately, it’s changing in many ways that are difficult to see. Most people focus on the surface level changes—learning new technology, learning a new way to communicate online, or purchase something online. But these changes are minor in comparison to the impact these changes are having on the way we think and behave. This is the world I focus on today, and how I wake people up. I help people see through limiting beliefs, so they can see a world of opportunity and understand what is needed to be valuable to
Work Muse: What’s the disconnect companies have about stay-at-home parents and why should they take notice of them?
Julia: Stay at home parents are developing the very skills that employers of the future are looking for—but neither parents nor the employers understand that. Why? Because we are all caught by limiting stereotypes about what full-time (stay-at-home) moms do. This is why shifting the way we think is so important.
Work Muse: Can you tell us more about your work and what stay-at-home parents need most to revolve and relaunch their careers?
Julia: Full-time parents need to shift the way they think about who they are, the role they play and the world they live in. Each shift enables them to see a little more of the world and a lot more opportunities for the future. I have developed an innovative reinvention process—I call it a REvolution Process—to help moms make it through these three shifts and learn skills that are critical to not only a successful relaunch but also being able to thrive in a digital world.
All of this is very different than any other relaunch program or career coach might suggest. While core parts of the job search and learning tech skills are a part of the REvolution Process, most effort is placed on helping moms shift their mindset.
I help people see through limiting beliefs, so they can see a world of opportunity and understand what is needed to be valuable
Work Muse: We hear from so many moms returning from a career break interested in job sharing who believe it’s an ideal way to return, giving them the flexibility they often still need with a supportive partner to professionally develop and onramp quickly. Do you see job sharing as a practice that could benefit REvolvers?
Julia: Yes, definitely! Job sharing can be a great pathway to finding the balance that all parents seek between family and career.
Melissa Nicholson is the Founder & CEO of Work Muse, a job share solutions firm. Job sharing is a partnership between two people to share the responsibilities of one full-time position. Work Muse drives adoption of job sharing in business as a source of competitive advantage while helping individuals find work-life balance. Join the #JobshareRevolution here –– events, resources, and relevant content to empower you in work and life! For more info, firstname.lastname@example.org.