Robin Schafer has a laminated newspaper article showing what she was once — and could be again. A go-getter. A worker. A take-charge kind of gal who, at 26, posed in a hard...

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Robin Schafer has a laminated newspaper article showing what she was once — and could be again.

A go-getter. A worker. A take-charge kind of gal who, at 26, posed in a hard hat in front of an old building as the general contractor overseeing its renovation.

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The year was 1981. In the article, Schafer was then a real-estate entrepreneur. In her mind, she is still the woman in that clipping. But now that she is trying to re-enter the work force after staying home with her three children for 19 years, she says employers don’t see that.

“It’s like all that stuff never happened,” said Schafer, 50, of East Brunswick, N.J.

As their children reach a milestone — whether starting kindergarten or driving themselves to high school — it seems like time to get a job.

“Their biggest worry is not feeling confident, not feeling comfortable with today’s technology or today’s work force,” said Al Saverino, regional manager for Accountemps, which places workers in the financial sector — most as temporary replacements, some leading to full-time work.

“They’ll ask, ‘Am I really employable?’ The answer is ‘absolutely,’ ” Saverino said.

“Companies are looking foremost for someone who will give them an honest and hard day’s work.”

Ann Crittenden, author of “If You Raised Kids, You Can Manage Anything — Leadership Begins at Home” (Gotham Books, $25), interviewed countless executives who credit their experience as mothers with honing their management skills.

“There’s an irrational stereotyping that motherhood means you’re nice and soft and sweet and gentle, and not really competitive. Whereas we all know that to be a good mother, you need to be tough and firm and draw the line with people,” she said.

“If you’re in a field where mothering has a bearing — teacher, any kind of social worker, the ministry — this should increasingly be considered a credential.”

Some employers will grasp the value of parenthood, while others won’t, and it takes a sensitive ear to discern in which camp an interviewer may be. Crittenden warns against stereotyping either women or men as being more receptive to mothers. In her experience, it really is an individual matter.

“People really need to be coached in order to be an attractive candidate,” said Phyllis Lieberman, career coordinator of the Women’s Resource Center in Summit, N.J.

Some women, she said, make the mistake of conveying their ambivalence about being away from their children. Lieberman suggests that, if asked about staying late, women should say they have backup child-care arrangements and can take work home.