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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

New Mom Returns to the Workforce

Dear Sue: I love your column and really respect your answers. Perhaps you can give me some advice. I am currently at home with my one-year old daughter. I was planning on returning to work after three-months, but was laid off during my maternity leave because the division of the company I worked for was sold.

I would like to be working again by summer, so I am beginning to look for a job more seriously now. Originally, I was going to look for a "bigger" job, but now that I have my child to think about, I'm thinking of doing something "smaller" that would enable me to leave my work at the office more easily. I am not sure how to address my situation with prospective employers in my cover letter. Should I say that the reason I am looking for a job is because I was laid off and do I mention that I have been at home with my daughter for the last year?

If I was offered a job today and an employer wanted me to start right away, I would be in a bind because I don't have any child care arrangements yet. Is unrealistic to think that a prospective employer would wait for me while I make child care arrangements?

Should I address any of these things in the letters I send? So far, I haven’t received any response to the recent resumes I've sent out, and I wonder if it's because I appear overqualified.

- Wondering

Sue Says: There may be a number of reasons you haven’t received any responses to the resumes you’ve sent out so far, and it isn’t clear whether you have mentioned any of the extenuating circumstances in it. Because the resume you are using hasn’t generated any responses, you may want to modify it in some way. If you haven’t already, seek the advice of a resume specialist before deciding what changes to make.

Don’t give more information than you need to in your resume or cover letter – why give anyone a reason to disqualify you? There is no need to state why you are looking for work, why you are willing to take a “smaller” position or mention that you have not yet found child care for your daughter. These are the types of issues that will be discussed in person, and can be difficult to address in a letter. In fact, the issue of child care is not something that generally is part of interview conversation; the assumption is that you have or will make arrangements for your children.

If you are looking for work now, you should also be looking for child care now, and you need to be prepared to accept an offer if you receive one. Finding the right care for your child can take time – so begin your search. I know it can be difficult to leave your daughter and make the transition back into the workplace, but once you find the right care for her, and a job that is a good fit, everything will fall into place.

Dear Sue: My spouse was invited to a company party along with her co-workers. The event was out of town and was for two days and two nights. The spouses of the employees were not invited. I think this is wrong and highly disapprove. I do not think this is a good environment to put any employees in. I told my spouse that I did not think it was right, and that if she went it would create major problems between. What do you think?

- Upset husband

Sue Says: I can understand leaving the office for a few days to do some training or teambuilding, but leaving to spend two days and two nights away to “party” seems a bit unusual. If it really is a party that is taking place, I agree with you that spouses should be included. However, the problems you think it would create between you and your wife may have less to do with the event than whatever is going on in your marriage. I wonder if the event is really sponsored by the company, or if a number of company employees have decided to have a little getaway. Try to get more information and gain a better understanding of the event before you get too upset or let it create any problems between you and your wife.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
For more Ask Sue articles, click here.

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