Inside: How has becoming a mom built your skill sets as a professional? Learn more about transferable skills, view examples, and download your transferable skills checklist.
♫ Time management, multitasking, prioritization. These are a few of my mom transferable skills. ♫
(If you didn’t sing that in “My Favorite Things” tune from The Sound of Music please go back and try it again.)
Let’s Hear It For the Moms
I’m a mom, and you know that already because I talk about it ALL the time.
I talk about it all of the time because I’m a mom all of the time and it’s a central part of who I am. It’s even listed on my LinkedIn profile!
While some people might look at my LinkedIn header and think that “Mom” is a weird thing to put in a professional bio, I don’t think it’s weird at all. In fact, I think it’s the most important title on the list.
That’s not just because my kids are my everything, because they are (and I know yours are too), but because the skills I have gained since becoming a mom relate directly to my professional life.
My mom transferable skills are a perk of motherhood I never expected. I know I would figure out how to change a diaper, or choose an appropriate soccer team snack, or make a Halloween craft out of a potato. But I didn’t expect that my career would take off in a new and amazing direction after my kids starting teaching me all kinds of critical lessons.
What Are Transferable Skills?
Before we get into the specific list of mom transferable skills, you might be wondering what transferable skills are. I mean you know you’ve got mad skillz, but which of those skills are transferrable to different types of work and why?
A transferable skill is a skill you have acquired that can be used in a different job not directly related to your current role. While customer service and teaching are different jobs, being a good listener is an important skill for both roles. Another example, a marketing manager and a painter. On the surface the roles are different, but creativity is going to serve you well in both positions.
Transferable skills come into play when you’re on the job, but also in how you pitch yourself in your resume, cover letter, networking conversations, and interviews. You talk about not just what you’ve done, but why you’re good at it and how those skills would serve your next employer.
Mom Transferable Skills List
Motherhood looks different to everyone, and your career path might not look a thing like mine. But I’m still going to encourage you to look at this list of mom transferrable skills and think about which ones ring true to your life.
Then you can download the transferable skills checklist to help you further flesh out which skills are related to your goals and experience. There are so many skills (skills on skills on skills) and I’m willing to bet you’re going to leave this article feeling pretty darn good about everything you bring to the professional world.
Before having kids I watched an insane amount of television. I didn’t recognize it as such at the time, but looking back at it now I had multiple shows I would want to watch each night, and a full DVR.
After the kids were born, I quickly realized that TV time was going to dwindle. Soon I didn’t miss the hours spent lounging on the couch and found that I was more productive with my time. On the weekends I was on the move so much with the kids that I wanted to stay on the move. A body in motion stays in motion! That’s how I was able to find the time to start my business as a side hustle, I kept on moving and used my time efficiently.
Think about how you have learned to manage your time as a parent. Think about how much you manage to accomplish in a day! That type of efficiency is crazy valuable in the workplace, in any type of role. While I feel kind of gross saying this, time is money.
As I type this sentence there is a load of laundry in the wash, I’m standing at the counter instead of sitting for health purposes, and the Instacart shopper is texting me about brown eggs or white eggs.
I’m a big fan of time blocking to get things done, but as a mom I also know how and when to multitask. Throw a bunch of different projects at me at one time and I’m going to juggle them all. That’s what I do at home, so that’s what I do at the office.
The word “multitask” can have a negative connotation because it can imply lack of focus. But the skill itself is valuable. So I’d recommend wording this one as “ability to effectively handle multiple projects.” This skill is particularly valuable for small businesses, event planning, and childcare, to name just a few.
Closely related to multitasking is the ability to prioritize.
On any given day as a mom, I have to decide which of the many things that need to be done is the most important. Do I do the dishes right now or play Hungry, Hungry, Hippos? It’s not always the dishes, and it’s not always the hippos. It is dependent on the day and the needs of my family, and my own sanity.
In the office, if you are good at prioritization then you will be able to make progress towards your goals and the company’s goals. You know how to evaluate a situation while also keeping in mind the bigger picture, or mission of the organization.
I will always want someone who knows how to prioritize effectively on my team because I know they will do the most important work first, and pivot when it becomes clear the most important work has changed. Think about how important this is in any business setting, but particularly a small company or nonprofit with a lot of goals and limited resources.
Last night my three-year-old lost her ever-loving mind because she had to go to bed before finishing reading a book. She was jumping around instead of listening to the story, and we gave her several chances to pull it together and chill out before bed. She didn’t, so she lost the privilege.
In my mind, this is just life. She’ll read more of the book tomorrow, clearly she needed some sleep, and there are consequences to your actions. However, to her, it was like I had sucked all the joy, happiness, and fruit snacks out of her life forever.
But I had a choice. I could yell, or I could hug her and empathize. I chose the latter, and she was able to calm down.
If you can empathize with people, then they will trust you, feel supported by you, and want to work with you to try to solve the problem. This mom transferable skill comes in handy, nay it’s critical, in any service-based role but becomes particularly relevant in management, medicine, nonprofit work, and education.
My five-year-old had a bad dream the other night and crawled into bed with us. I asked him the next morning what his bad dream was about and he said he didn’t want to talk about.
I could have let it go, but I know my kid. He’s a talker. So I explained that sometimes it helps to talk about our feelings, and if he feels uncomfortable he can draw them. (Quite honestly, I got that tidbit from walking too much Law & Order SVU in college.)
He started to draw, and then he began to explain his drawing and tell me about his dream. Turns out he had overheard something Glen and I were talking about from the news and it had him concerned. So I listened intently to his words and his nonverbals, and we worked through it together.
Becoming a parent has taught me to listen in a whole new way. More intently, listening between the words, with a new sense of focus. Deep listening is an important skill in so many fields including coaching, medicine, education, and sales.
I’ve been a writer in some capacity my whole life. I wrote poems and stories as a kid, crafted essay upon essay in high school and college, and have always loved creating the perfect picture caption. But I didn’t dive deeply into writing until after my kids were born.
My kids sparked new levels of creativity in me, gave me a treasure trove of topics to think about, and helped me learn how to tell a good story. Read a few hundred children’s books and you’ll pick up a thing or two.
My kids have helped me hone my communication skills by making me more imaginative and clear. They’ve pushed me to explore this craft because I want to model following your dreams. I’m getting a touch emotional right now because this skill is a mom transferable skill with a capital MOM.
Communication skills are critical for writers, marketers, business owners, educators, and managers across sectors. I bet your kids have helped you build your skills in this area as well, in your own way!
Remember the story about how I had problem-solve my way out of a tricky potty training situation at a minor league ballpark?
That required quick thinking, logic, strength, negotiation skills, and determination. I problem solved that bad boy like WOAH. I won’t retell the whole story right now, but you can find it here. Plus there is a link to Chariots of Fire on that post because it requires a soundtrack. Enjoy!
Think about the number of problems you solve on a daily basis. From figuring out how to get your kids to eat their dinner, to resolving sibling arguments, to managing your work time/sick kid at home time/grocery shopping time. You figure it out, individually and with teammates.
Problem solvers make the world go round. In operations, event planning, healthcare, manufacturing, management, real estate, childcare, education, hospitality, consulting, finance, etc, etc, etc. The world needs problem solvers, and you’re a problem solver.
I’ve held a lot of leadership roles in my life, but none quite like being a mother. As a Class President, nothing was going to fall to pieces if I didn’t execute the Student-Faculty Basketball game to perfection. As a manager, if I made a mistake and hired the wrong person, the world would go on.
But as a mother, if I screw up this leadership position, well we’re going to be in trouble. My kids need me to lead by example, to motivate them, to support them, and to help them become the best versions of themselves. Talk about pressure, right?
Your leadership capacity has grown tenfold since becoming a mother, I’m quite sure of that. This mom transferable skill that you bring from the playground to the boardroom is one that will take you as far as you want to go in your career. You have developed the ability to truly understand people (small people you may have birthed), and what makes them tick. From that, you’ve honed in how to help them grow.
That’s leadership. You know who needs leaders? Everybody.
In my post on creativity, I talked about how my kids like when Glen and I make up stories for them. They love a good Dr. Seuss rhyme, but what they love even more is a story that is uniquely theirs from our brains.
They have pushed me to think creatively about storylines, they have pushed me to be open to possibilities, they have pushed me to ask more questions and be crazy curious. These little ones have made me more creative than I could ever have imagined possible!
I know sometimes you feel like your brain is fried as a mom; me too. But if you take a minute to reflect on the activities you engage in with your kids, I think you’ll find that you are pretty darn creative! Take that creativity with you to help solve problems, come up with new ideas, or be artistic. In any sort of design field, in entrepreneurship, in writing, in entertainment – that creativity will propel you forward.
My brother and sister-in-law gave me a shirt for my birthday last year that says Mama Bear. It’s a great shirt, both for the cozy material and the message that speaks directly to my heart.
I will go to bat for these kids, any day, every day, and twice on Sunday. I want them to learn to stick up for themselves too, and we talk a lot about using our words and making good choices, but at the end of the day, I’m still the Mama Bear.
There have been times I’ve called preschool to discuss issues or stood up to family members when their words or actions were impacting my children. I won’t hesitate to advocate for my kid and let my voice be heard while they are finding their own.
I know mothers who have kids with health concerns or learning differences that advocate for their kids every single day. Through IEP meetings and doctor’s office visits, with specialists and with other parents. They stand up for their kids backed by hours of late-night research and second opinions.
Advocating like that? That not only takes guts and determination, but it’s a well-earned mom transferable skill. Think about how you could translate that ability into the workforce, in the legal setting, working on behalf of victims, in government, in nonprofit, in education. The list goes on! The world needs you!
Your Transferable Skills Checklist
Have you identified the mom transferable skills that you bring to the table?
Take some time now and reflect on these skills, and the other ideas that come to mind based on your individual experience, and create your own list. I bet your skills list will fill up quite nicely, because well, you’re amazing!
Still a little stuck? Download the transferable skills checklist (including 48 different skills you may have gained through parenthood, education, and your career) to help you think through what skills you bring to the table.
Then it will be time to show off those skills! Keep on reading and learn more about writing a resume summary that incorporates your top skills.
P.S. If you’re feeling confused by any of this mom transferable skills business, or how to effectively tell your story, sign up for a coaching consultation call. I’d love to talk with you!