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Maternity leave is an intensive skills development bootcamp - what skills did you learn?

Updated: Jun 16, 2022

Make sure that when you return to work, prepare for an interview or personal development conversation you are able to articulate the skills you have developed whilst you are away, with confidence.

Motherhood will have given you a new set of transferable skills that can be applied to the workplace read on to feel supercharged and ready to conquer the corporate world!


A skill set is a combination of abilities, qualities and experiences you can apply to perform tasks well. These can include soft skills such as patience, organisation and leadership as well as technical skills such as research, computer programming, accounting, writing and more. ⠀⠀⠀⠀

Skills are developed when you are exposed to new experiences – which parental leave has in abundance. So it is likely that your skills have developed at a faster rate than someone who has been at work the whole time.

Remembering to recognise the skills that are developed outside of work helps to change the narrative that nothing productive happens outside of the workplace.

Don't take your 3, 6 or 9 months of leave for granted - "I was only on maternity leave" or ''just a full time mum'' is simply not enough - but also don't assume an accomplishment has to be earth shattering to really matter.

Recognising your newly developed skills will not only improve your employer's confidence in you and give you a competitive edge, it will improve your self confidence too.

An excellent technique, called SOAR, is useful in developing accomplishment stories that showcase your skills.

In an interview, your SOAR answer provides specific information on the Situation, Obstacles, Actions and Results. On your CV, it provides a quick insight into your capabilities.

The SOAR acronym is easy to remember and will help you organise material for conversations

Here's how it works:


Describe the situation, the problem, challenge, project or obstacle you were faced with

e.g. We had a plane to catch and both of my young children were accidently locked inside the hire car.


Describe the obstacles you faced

e.g. I needed to access the car keys, keep my children calm and make sure we made the plan on time.


List the actions you took

e.g. I called the owner of our villa to help me break into the car (engaging others), we had to smash the window (decision making/resilience), whilst I asked my husband to keep the children calm by singing to them (delegation), once we had managed to open the car and get the keys I worked with the hotel cleaner to clean up the mess and secure the smashed window with a cover so that we could drive to the airport safely (teamwork/creativity).


Describe the results you helped obtain and the benefits to your employer

e.g. We returned the car on time, made the plane safely and didn't have to pay any fees because our insurance had covered us for the accidental damage. My family were calm throughout and I was able to minimise the stress from the experience.

Your examples don't need to be this eventful - it could be about how you taught your child to sleep, how you learn about weaning, how you built relationships with new friends or how you learnt to manage your household income and expenses in a sustainable way.

Using the SOAR technique, develop 10 to 20 of your own. But practise speaking them so that it becomes second nature to confidently present them.

For more support with your return to work after maternity leave or a career break sign up to The Pulse newsletters for your bi-weekly dose of career development support


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