Wondering if your career can sustain COVID and the aftermath of this pandemic?
I’d like to introduce my sister, a human resources executive, career coach – Jami Delaney!
A Little Bit About Jami
Jami Delaney is an HR executive and career coach. Most importantly she is a mom of three teenagers – a daughter that is a senior in high school, a son that is a sophomore in high school, and a son that is in 7th grade. Being a mom is her most important job, although she says they all feel as heavy and important along the way! It is such an amazing opportunity to work alongside my sister on The Modern Mom Lounge. We strategize every week (and catch up). Jami will be offering more career advice along the way and will help us figure out how we balance everything that is so important to us. That is the journey that we’re all on.
Jami has been on quite a career journey herself. Her background paints a picture of what careers can be and how we balance and navigate as moms.
Jami’s Career Thus Far!
Jami started her career in retail as a buyer at Lord & Taylor on their training program. She had a really successful career being a merchant and truly loved it, but decided to transition to another role for a different large retailer – Macy’s. There she spent 20 years building her career and trying different things out.
When her daughter was born she took a break from Macy’s. Over the next couple of years, she was realizing the challenge for her of being a mom, in a marriage, trying to figure everything out and have three little kids under 5.
Jami decided she needed to reevaluate, but kept connected and networked to all the people she worked with. When she was ready to go back to work full-time in 2010, it was a much easier transition.
Jami returned to Macy’s in a project management role. She’d been a merchant previously, and working for a large organization allowed her to take a different career track. That was one of the things that really was a hallmark in the organization.
Shortly into her new role, Jami realized that her heart was in Human Resources. She would always volunteer to be the partner to HR to build curriculums on training, to help with college recruitment. Her passion being around people and culture – what’s at the heart of any organization.
In 2012, Jami transitioned into HR spending the last eight years holding multiple roles with an HR organization.
To this day she is still anchored in HR, consulting for smaller organizations, and using her expertise in a different way. It is new to her but super exciting. She learns every day and it helps her balance, think about the future and what she wants, but also balance in a time where we are all kind of trying to figure things out.
Can You Career Sustain COVID?
Let’s chat about this with Jami!
What are the biggest challenges you think that moms face when it comes to their career and the new normal due to COVID?
JAMI: I think we could all probably respond to this in so many different ways if we think about what we are facing weekly, daily, hourly, by the second. Also individually and as families.
I’m going to really zoom out because I think there’s something valuable for all to address. As if it wasn’t hard enough to have it all before a pandemic as a woman and a mom, it’s a whole other level right now. As women and moms, there is a risk of the workforce shifting and pushing out a generation of moms that work so hard to get where they were.
The risk of unraveling decades of progress – something we need to think about in terms of workplace equality and our role now as activists.
It is not just the daily challenges that we have; it is a much broader thing for us to consider. There are some interesting statistics that I’d like to share to help drive us to figure out not just what’s right for us but also what we can do within the roles that we have in the organizations we work for.
Let’s learn what we can do to drive change and make people aware of how something like COVID or any pandemic actually impacts women and their role in the workforce – specifically moms.
These stats will continue to evolve…
60% of jobs eliminated in the first wave of pandemic layoffs were held by women.
Single moms have been particularly challenged and hard hit by this crisis. They have lost their jobs at a higher rate and when they looked at the female workforce participation rate, it is at a low that we haven’t seen since 1986.
There is a real issue where that is bigger than what we have to deal with every day – getting up, figuring outer kids, figuring out how we’re going to get our job done, how we’re getting our zoom calls.
Something that we have to think about and consider is that there is another thing about our own decisions but also the power we have as women and moms to continue to make sure that things do not go in a direction that we wouldn’t want them to.
When we’ve worked so hard to get where we are.
The other thing to notice not just about the loss of jobs and the short but the impact on the engagement of women.
There was a study done with about 2,000 women and men. Women are reportedly 27% lower in job satisfaction than men right now. Why? Because women are typically more responsible for balancing things with the home, so the hardships of COVID, of hybrid or distance learning, being able to work remotely, not having help at home with childcare.
All of these things are coming into play. Even if you have the best partner, it does seem to fall on the shoulder of women.
What advice would you offer to moms trying to navigate their career right now?
I think it is twofold. I think it is about any time as moms or parents that we have to go to work, we are considering our children and getting everything done. It’s never easy. It’s always a puzzle. It’s always about prioritization, figuring about what works best for your family. Now we’ve been thrown a different puzzle, so we have to think differently. The same way our work has changed and that change is constant. We need to be resilient, we need to think about our life and our family.
Things we should consider:
Remote working – there are benefits and challenges. It can be looked at as, “I may not need to commute, so what can I get done in the morning when I normally would be commuting and my kids are sleeping.”
You have to start creating different boundaries and a different work schedule. You may have been used to an 8 am – 6 pm, you will now have to start to build and schedule a time that may not be traditional to what we know before but really is a new way.
It’s not that you’re alone, it’s just about being able to look at your day, your week, or as far as you can go and say, “How do I block time differently than I used to think?”
We need to be creative and how we get support and ask for help. It may be huge. It may be that I’m calling my sister and saying, “I need to get on a call, are you free at 9 to talk to my son while I’m working this meeting and keep them occupied because I can’t.” I don’t want to put them in front of a screen, I’ve already scheduled out the day between school, screen times, other activities I can give them. It’s being creative on how you virtually use support with your friends and family.
It’s also about your mom’s tribe. Are there friends that can help you and bring the kids together to do activities outside?
We need to have a voice so anytime there’s anything that’s workplace and culture conflict – and there are so many examples of that.
- Diversity and inclusion
- Working moms
- …there are a million ways but this has always existed.
How do we find our voice with our organization and our boss to say, “How are we going to make this work?”
Everyone’s dealing with this battle right now and organizations are trying to figure it out. They know it’s not perfect. They know the demands are different.
Most organizations are thinking about culture, and now they are thinking about it through a different lens. Having a voice in that is really important. As much as you can plan ahead and have calendars figure out things the best you can, setting boundaries, the better you are going to be.
We have to be more structured, but not rigid. The world changed overnight per se, so you have to flow with it, but just be a little more flexible. Structure yourself and in between all of those sharing times with moms and kids, work calls, you need to schedule a time for self-care.
What are some tips that can help moms support their kids through distance and hybrid learning?
The younger the kids are, the more it is about teaching. When the pandemic first happened, no parents were prepared for that. Schools are trying to figure out as well. It’s about helping your kids stay focused and know that just because you are sitting in front of a computer at home doesn’t mean that you don’t have a schedule. Set the same discipline with them that you’re setting with yourself.
We have to become involved in a different way than we were before, but not take away from the fact that our kids can do more than we typically think.
No hovering though. This time for them is really positive in a developmental way about independence and resilience that also helps support us in our careers.
Set accountability but in a different way, they’re used to – accountable to teachers in a different way, and now accountability to you in a different way, while understanding that we’re all trying to navigate this.
We’re forced to be creative and resilient no matter what the situation is. It’s just music. The stage has changed.
What are your top three recommendations for moms that are thinking of re-entering the workplace?
Networking is number one. Many more people are participating in virtual networking events now, using social media such as LinkedIn. The best way for you to start is by telling people you’re ready through your network. The unemployment rate is much higher right now so it is easier when you know people and have connections. The more people you can link into and start building relationships with, the better. People are willing to connect and talk and help, so don’t be afraid.
Don’t take for granted the work you may have been doing while you weren’t working outside the home. We’re always working and whether it is doing things with the school like volunteering, going for certifications…
Don’t discount it – feel confident about it and make sure that you’re amplifying and talking about it. Tell the story. The employer is listening and they want to know you have the skills and talent. Because you took a break doesn’t mean you are not valuable to the role they are looking to fill. Sometimes we think we can’t do something, that we have imposter syndrome. You CAN!
Be creative in how you present yourself – your storytelling of who you are and who your advocates are.
The struggle for moms is being kind to ourselves first. We put everyone else first and at the center. When you’re on a plane and the directions are to put your oxygen mask on before you put on your child’s. It’s the same idea.
How do you feed yourself and give YOU the things you need because you will be a better parent, a better partner, a better friend?
It’s always about balance. There are new types of boundaries and you have to be creative – the time you would be commuting could be used for something that makes you feel good!
Have any questions you’d like to ask Jami? Leave them in the comments below!