With Cheryl Casone, reporter and anchor for Fox Business Network, Author of The Comeback: How Today’s Moms Reenter the Workplace Successfully
The stay at home mom is a dinosaur from days long gone. Whether from economic necessity or desire, most moms today are either already out in the workforce or they’re returning after time out to raise children. Recognizing that reentry after a long hiatus from earning a paycheck can be an intimidating venture, Cheryl Casone, reporter and anchor for Fox Business Network, wrote a book on the subject called The Comeback: How Today’s Moms Reenter the Workplace Successfully.
Cheryl herself grew up with a working mom which she says was her inspiration for living her own life and for mentoring other women who may be agonizing over the guilt of leaving their children coupled with the insecurity of going back into an arena where the rules have changed.
The two biggest concerns women have about the return to work after having children, says Cheryl are: The kids will suffer; I won’t have anything to offer; my skills are rusty or out of date.”
To counter these fears, Cheryl points to a recent Harvard University study that interviewed both mothers and daughters of over 50,000 women in 25 countries and concluded that daughters, in particular—but sons as well—were more successful and reported higher levels of work/life balance than children raised by mothers who never worked. This cultural shift is light years away from the days of Leave it to Beaver.
In researching her book, Cheryl interviewed over 100 women many of whose stories are cited in the book as supporting testimony for the findings from the Harvard study.
Acknowledging the obstacles facing many women wanting to return to the business world, Cheryl offers invaluable advice on how to navigate back to a satisfactory position in the workplace.
- Before leaving your present job, she counsels, always secure contact information for your colleagues, so you can keep in touch from home.
- Social media means you never have to be in isolation. The world is right there on your screen, so maintain those contacts during your time off from work. Also, reach out for actual face-to-face meet ups with local colleagues.
- Acknowledge that after being at home for a while, you might have to accept less money or a different title.
- Building a resume is a key factor in presenting yourself as a prospective employee. Cheryl’s advice is to emphasize your strong points at the top of the page, front and center, and to not minimize some of the skills you’ve used at home, such as negotiating, multi-tasking, and organizing.
The Comeback: How Today’s Moms Reenter the Workplace Successfully is a self-help book that will coach you back into the workplace. Cheryl gives you advice, resources, and courage to go confidently into the arena of the successful working mom.
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Steve Pomeranz: Each year thousands of women put promising careers on hold hoping to return to them at a later point. In her book, The Comeback: How Today’s Moms Reenter the Workplace Successfully, my next guest, Cheryl Casone, outlines ways to leave your job well, strategies for staying current while away from the office, and the secrets to making the years away a strength, not a weakness. Cheryl Casone is also a reporter and anchor for the Fox Business Network. Welcome, Cheryl.
Cheryl Casone: Oh, welcome to you as well. Thank you for having me today, it’s so great to talk to you about this.
Steve Pomeranz: This is a very timely book, as I know, this must be a very big challenge for many, many women. What inspired you to write it?
Cheryl Casone: Well, first off, my mother was a comeback mother. My father and my mother divorced when I was four, and my mom had to go back to work. I was one of those kids that was lucky, in that, I never felt that I was missing anything. We had nights and weekends together. My mother was an inspiration to me, as somebody that did have a career and have friends and had interests outside of our home. I think that she was the first and original inspiration for me. A lot of people worry, a lot of moms worry, that they’re neglecting their children, that their children are going to get into trouble. They’re going to suffer at school. I’m standing here saying that that’s not the case.
Again, a Harvard study came out earlier this year—well after I’d finished writing the book and doing my own research—that said exactly the same thing. They interviewed over 50,000 participants in 26 countries, and they interviewed working moms and especially the children of working of working moms. What they found was that daughters, in particular, had higher positions in management, were more successful, reported higher levels of work/life balance, and the sons did as well. I think that it’s a change in philosophy, and I hope a change in thinking about working moms. For the women, as well, because I’ve become their biggest champion. The workforce needs them. We need them.
Steve Pomeranz: Well, there are so many women in the workforce or young women entering the workforce, and many of them are going to make the decision to have children. How much planning, if any, can be done prior to getting pregnant, prior to the actual leaving of the job? How should they start thinking and when?
Cheryl Casone: It’s almost like you do this for any job that you take. I think I had a boss of mine back in San Francisco when I worked in television there say, “Remember, Cheryl, when you get that first job, start looking for the next job.”
Steve Pomeranz: Don’t say that, all my employees are listening.
Cheryl Casone: It was interesting because I thought, “Gosh, he’s kind of right.” You’re always kind of setting up for the next thing. Even if you’re working right now, and you may or may not have kids; you may want to come back to work, you may not, but you always want to act as if you will because you never know. A lot of women that I interviewed in the book—I would say almost half—never thought they were going to have to go back to the workforce; it wasn’t part of their plan. Life handed them challenges and sometimes gifts that forced them to go back to work, or they decided they wanted to go back to work.
What you can do, even if you’re about to go on maternity leave, or before that, you want to make sure that you have a lot of the personal contact information of colleagues that you have good relationships with, home addresses, to send the birth announcement to, and you also want to make sure that you have those personal connections on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn. One mom that I interviewed, she never disappeared. I think that’s the one thing that a lot of moms worry about, is that I’m going to disappear. She didn’t because she stayed active on social media with all of her former colleagues for about three years.
Steve Pomeranz: I guess it’s easier these days to not disappear because of social media.
Cheryl Casone: You’re always connected, you’re networking even though you’re at home, maybe in your yoga clothes, you’re still out there networking. I think social media is an amazing way for us to communicate with each other and to stay connected to people, for all of us.
Steve Pomeranz: However, you’re still not into the day-to-day, and business moves rapidly, rates of change accelerate, yet you’re really not there for the day-to-day. So how do you keep up with that kind of handicap, I guess you’d say?
Cheryl Casone: One of the things that you can do, if you physically can do this—I mean location based, if you’re still somewhat close to your former office, your former colleagues—you do try to connect every couple of months. Maybe go grab lunch. You try to say, “Hey, I’m going to be out with the kids, playing in the park this Saturday. Why don’t you come and join me?” These are personal relationships you’re keeping, just in case. You always have to think of the “just in case”. You always want that backup plan.
The other big problem that a lot of the moms had was technology. Technology changes so quickly; that’s really what changes. The traditional office environment really isn’t traditional anymore. A lot of people work from home. They work on the road. We, now, in New York, for example, have office space for 20 different people that do 20 jobs, share a big open space with desks and computers and a water cooler. But they don’t work with each other; they’re just renting that space. It’s just so different than it used to be. With that is the advantage to people, especially moms, because you’re maybe living at home, raising the kids, and doing home activities, but you can still be physically there. Facetime and Skype, I can’t believe how valuable that’s become as well.
Steve Pomeranz: We recently interviewed a woman who had a position, and she decided to stay home with her child, but she actually created a product and had a successful Kickstarter campaign. She basically took the road of an entrepreneur. What happens when you’re starting to think about getting back to your old job when maybe that job isn’t there anymore?
Cheryl Casone: A lot of the moms that happened to. Their positions were eliminated, or they went back expecting to get the same title and the same amount of money as salary, and that didn’t happen. That’s actually very common, and there’s no advice I can give for that. A lot of times, that is what’s going to happen. You may have to go back and take less money and take a lower position, but the positive, with a lot of these women, with moms, in particular, you bring skill sets to the workplace and the companies you may not realize—patience, organizational skills, multitasking is big, and negotiation skills. If you can negotiate with a five-year-old, you can negotiate with a 25-year-old.
Steve Pomeranz: I think that’s so true. As a matter of fact, I always lost those negotiations. That’s what moms are for. You come back, but you have this huge gap in your resume now. I think, perhaps, there’s a double standard because now, if you’re competing for a job again, you’re competing against people, men and women, who have remained in the workforce.
Cheryl Casone: That is another reality that has to be faced, but there are ways that you can handle that to your advantage. Obviously, a gap in the resume is going to need to be explained, but what you do is, my advice is, to rearrange the resume a little bit. At the top, you put your contact information, then underneath that you put your objective statement. I still like that a lot. You should always, by the way, this is to anybody, make sure that you phrase that objective statement and cater that resume to the job you’re applying for. Especially use keywords from the job description in your objective statement because if a computer is scanning the resumes, that puts the resume to the front of the line and makes sure that a computer doesn’t delete your resume if you’re applying online for something.
Then, underneath that, you put a skill section. The skill section is all of the skills that you have. A lot of these skills, you developed them five years ago, but they’re still skills that you have. Going back to work is like riding a bike; it comes back pretty fast. Then you put the work experience below that. One woman I just helped, in New York, had a really amazing education experience. Her education section was very strong and powerful, it was at the bottom. I thought this needs to go up. She had an 18-year gap on her resume, but her education was phenomenal. She spoke three different languages. She was Ivy League educated. I said, “This needs to go up.” Forget the years, just put it up so that it shows who you are. Your brain didn’t fall apart because you went home and raised your kids. You didn’t get instantly stupid.
Steve Pomeranz: The book is The Comeback: How Today’s Moms Reenter the Workplace Successfully. My guest is Cheryl Casone.
How did you end up writing this book? How did you gather the information in order to come up with these conclusions?
Cheryl Casone: I interviewed over 100 women. Hopefully, my boss isn’t listening, I did it between shows. I did it over coffee in the morning. I did it on the weekends. If I had a free 15 minutes, I would just get on the phone and do an interview. I used social media, actually, just to find these moms because I wanted to find women who had actually done this. I wanted to learn how they did it. What’s the secret to how you make this work, and how you accomplish this? The interviews, again, plus the stories. I’m a journalist, at the end of the day, and this book, to me, was a great story that nobody was telling. It’s a story that needs to be talked about. These women, some of them have really funny stories. Some of them had really sad stories. That was so rewarding. That’s what makes the book, I think, is that. One woman, they were both military. He said that because they were moving around so much and to different bases, he said, “Why don’t you leave the military and become a military spouse. You can be with the kids.” She said, “Okay”. Well, then she finds out he’s having an affair. They’re divorced within four years. She liked her job. She didn’t really want to leave work but he asked her to. She had to make her comeback. Another mom, her six-year-old is the one that said, “You need to go back to work. You’re driving us nuts.” The youngest of the three was six, and said, “You need to go back to work, Mom.”
Steve Pomeranz: What are some of the resources that moms can look for and use. I notice in one of the videos, you interviewed a woman who—it was a job site, for this particular purpose, it was Apres Group, or something like that. Tell us about some resources.
Cheryl Casone: Apres Group is wonderful. I would highly suggest that you go onto that website. Also, you can go to my website, cherylcasone.com. I’ve got a lot of the resources and tips and tricks there. I also have a survey that kind of helps you to evaluate whether or not you’re ready to go back to work and where you are in the process. If you’re ready to start applying right now, if you, maybe, need some time to kind of craft things, and get your head straight about what it is you want to do. That’s a 20-question quiz. It’s on my website. Then also, LinkedIn, everybody needs to get on LinkedIn.
Steve Pomeranz: Apres, is A-p-r-e-s, like after, the French word after. It’s Apres Group we were referring to. My guest is Cheryl Casone. She can be seen as an anchor for the Fox Business Network. Congratulations on your book, Cheryl
Cheryl Casone: Thank you so much.
Steve Pomeranz: Thank you, bye-bye.