The Mommy Shift: A Reentry Strategy (Brief Edition)

The book for working mothers who want to ensure a successful transition back to work for herself, her family, and her ultimate career goals.

As a working mom myself,  most of my personal relationships with other moms are now virtual. Yet, even though my mommy conversations consist of chats and texts, I have gained substantive insights into the biggest issues we face in terms of our careers.

There are 3 considerations that come up regularly and are applicable to busy moms as well as other career hunters. However, before tackling those one-by-one the overarching goal is that we all want our back-to-work transition to be successful (for us and for those we care about).

Now, in order to increase the chances that this reentry will be successful and lasting , I have found that a mom has to evaluate, prepare, and adjust her reentry plans based on market changes, role expectations and, of course, her own shift in mind set. Thus, changes relevant to the three categories diagrammed above, those in the: MARKET, ROLE, and MOM are the ones that matter most.


MARKET – How to ascertain a changing industry for a busy mom.

A woman’s online search activity doubles after becoming a mom, according to a 2009 study by BabyCenter and Google. 75% of moms surveyed asserted they are better at search after motherhood. Use this newly refined skill. Set up Google Alerts to scour the web for industry news. Find the business challenges in your industry. Set up a Twitter account. Again, using your online search skills, identify the top thinkers in your field. Pay attention to their tweets and reply with your viewpoint. Use this as a testing ground to see how your thinking needs to be tweaked given current business challenges and needs. Also consider this a great way to forge relationships with top thinkers. See my interview for Social Media Week on how Twitter can help you break past gatekeepers. A similar BabyCenter study asserts how moms take their mobile devices everywhere with them. On that note, it’s key that you have downloaded the necessary mobile apps so that you can consume, participate, and share while on the run.


ROLE – How to uncover and fill skill gaps for a busy mom.

Identify your five target companies. Keep in mind the roles you wish to pursue. Search on LinkedIn for people already in those spots. Review what they did prior to filling those roles, what they are doing now, and their skills and expertise. Compare your own experiences and skills with that of this sample. Write out the five experiences or skills you need to be competitive. Rather than spending money on taking courses to fill these gaps, find pro bono ways to learn on the job. Consider sites such as On this site, you can scour assignments you wish to take, complete them from home, and acquire or refine business skills. Alternatively, if you want to get out of the house, use that target list of companies. Go to each firm’s community relations’ page. For example, if Best Buy is one of your target firms, then consider volunteering for one of its partners. Before volunteering, ask if you can take your child to the volunteer activities. One mom is volunteering for a nonprofit partner and is able to work with her daughter tucked in her Ergobaby carrier.)


MOM – How to figure out a mom’s personal shift in mind set, or what you will (or can) put up with.

Just because you dedicated X-number of years to one firm before becoming a mom does not mean that you have to return to that firm, that industry, or assume a job in a similar role. Your investment in a prior life should no longer inform your future-facing investment decisions—which is similar to the definition of sunk costs.

It’s also important to remove any rose-colored glasses. If you were operating at high speeds before having a child, spent late nights at work while you were pregnant, and/or attended go-away conferences, be conservative and assume you will still have to do the same to produce identical results. Rethink your preferences on anything that required your time or drained your energy before reentering the job market. Write out a few time guzzlers and energy suckers you recall from your prior life and imagine having to endure them on less than five hours of sleep. Is it worth it? Write out the qualities of your work life that are negotiable and nonnegotiable, then reconfigure your reentry strategy based on who you are today as a mom. (Side note: read Does Your Motivation for Changing Careers Stink?  to finesse your motivation for a switch).


The biggest challenge for moms (and dads) who have been out of the workforce is figuring out whether they are applying to the right opportunity for their families. Email me to set up a free 15-minute consultation to hear how I have helped others weigh the costs and benefits of specific roles and helped them more confidently push the gas pedal on their reentry strategy.

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Melissa Llarena

Melissa helps movers and shakers up to those in the corner office rediscover what makes them unique so that they can land their dream job in a forward-thinking company where their ideas are listened to, valued, and supported.

She brings insights from having worked in 16-business units (including Human Resources) in NY, Paris, and London. Additionally, in her former corporate career, she worked on billion-dollar brands for P&G and on IBM for Ogilvy & Mather. Later, as the founder and CEO of Career Outcomes Matter, Melissa created a 3-step “sellable strengths” process which has been the centerpiece of her clients' results.

Melissa applies this method consistently to support mid-level professionals up to the c-suite to get into Fortune Global 500 organizations and agencies. She studied Psychology at NYU and earned her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

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