The Balancing Act of Mom and Recruiter

By Chi Nguyen

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For many women in the workforce the balance on demands between family and work are difficult. I feel that the world of recruiting brings a whole new level to the balance given the timing and demands of the position. Having only heard about how tough it was to balance motherhood and recruiting; I only recently did I experience it for myself as my first child came into the world. I wanted to share some of my personal experiences in hopes that others may learn, make decisions, or perhaps be inspired to make the right decisions for themselves about how to tackle motherhood and work.

Sleep...Sanity...Schedules…

All the things that I said "sayonara" to when my little Olivia was born five months ago. Like so many first-time moms, I knew motherhood would be hard, but not this hard. I knew motherhood would be rewarding, but not this rewarding...

The first three months of life with Olivia was a blur of non-stop feedings, diaper changes, and countless tears (from both of us). Somehow and some way, that magical third month happened. We finally found a rhythm and started understanding each other. I wanted to hold on to that time forever...but reality was fast approaching, and I was soon preparing to return back to the working world.

Life before Olivia consisted of 60-70 hour work weeks, with a three-hour commute, while life with Olivia consisted of all hours of the day committed to her. I somehow had to defy time and space...or learn how to balance mom life versus work life. I'm still learning every day, but these mini mantras have helped me strike that balance:

Bond with the moms

Other working moms get the struggle. Once you have children, it's almost like you enter a secret sisterhood of moms, that you can share stories, and advice with. As a recruiter, I have always been sensitive to the juggling act that a working mom has to do, but I'm even more empathetic when they are a mom with a full-time job, and looking for a new job. None of my candidates ever ask for any special treatment, but sometimes I think it's nice to hear, "oh I get it, I'm a mom."

Bond with the non-moms

I've always been a pretty cool gal (at least that's what I think). I had a pretty prolific life before baby, but life took a sharp turn when Olivia came. During maternity leave, I barely left the couch, let alone the house. I lived for what the baby needed, and my needs became a distant second. My husband was actually very excited when I returned back to work because he thought I could get a big part of my life back. It was easy for me to talk about the baby at work, and actually really hard to listen to anything else. This was definitely a step in the wrong direction since the best recruiters are the best listeners. I made a conscious decision to curb some of the baby talk, and try to listen. Being truly interested in what my candidates had to share, has improved my life in so many ways. I have built a stronger rapport with the candidates I work with, but I also get to escape and listen to their exciting lives of travel, adventure, and fun.

Be transparent with your boss

A month after being back at work, my manager asked me how I was doing. I think she was posing what she thought was a simple question, but my answer was a garbled emotional ten-minute speech. I whined about missing some first-time moments with Olivia, and then vented my frustration on trying to fill some truly tough engineering roles. I went on and on, about how some days I just didn't even know how I was doing. As a mom herself, she reminded me how I was feeling was completely normal. She reminded me the importance of being patient and flexible as a mom, as a recruiter, but most importantly with myself. I don't know if it was the ability to be honest with her, or the advice that she gave, but there was true comfort in telling her how I felt, without any boundaries.

Let yourself cry over spilled milk

I was storing my milk away at work when I clumsily knocked over the precious milk I had just pumped. I sat there for a full 30 seconds, contemplating on trying to scoop up the milk and save it. When I realized I was being ridiculous, and that the milk was really gone, I cried. While I was crying, I realized it wasn't just over the spilled milk, but over a terrible phone interview that I was so excited for, it was over the terrible interview one of my hiring managers had, and it was over the candidate that decided to disappear. In that moment, I let myself be human, I didn't have to pretend I was super mom or super recruiter. Mistakes happen, and sometimes you just have to forgive yourself.

Sometimes you get it just right

There is no magical wand to wave, but only baby steps of trial and error. Every day I wonder if I'm doing it right...and just when a cast of doubt trickles in, I look into baby Olivia's happy and bright face, and I just know I'm balancing it...just right. Mom life versus recruiter life? Nah...just balancing a happy life.

Want more? Read our article with TeamViewer executive Barb Swanson who landed her executive role after coming back from three years of maternity leave.

What's your experience? Continue the conversation on Twitter @MitchelLake