Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility


Rebecca Joy Tromsness
March 21, 2023

When you’ve spent years of your life wiping bums, managing cookie negotiations, outwitting stall tactics, and juggling naps, the concept of putting yourself out there — whether for a career relaunch or even just a transition — can feel daunting.

You have children on the brain during most waking hours, you’re self-conscious of any gaping holes on your resume, networking seems like a double dare, and especially if you have little to no recent paid experience, your confidence may be at an all-time low.

Seems like a perfect foundation for building a personal brand, right?


But hear me out. Let me tell you why it’s essential for your job search and how to do it, even if you have a gap and all the self-doubt in the world.


A personal brand is the culmination of things that distinguish you from your job-seeker competitors: it is a reflection of your unique skills, passion, values, work strengths, personality traits, and unique experience(s), accomplishments, abilities, and soft skills, among other things. It’s a marketing tool — a strategy — for your candidacy that encapsulates who you are, what makes you unique, how you solve problems, and what solutions you offer a target company to reach their goals and achieve their mission.

A personal brand is a “career identity” with a dynamic message: a unique value proposition to prospective employers. A powerful personal brand delivers a clear solutions-focused message that is impactful and captivating.

You might feel unworthy of “be”-ing a brand. Or, this all might be a bit of a turn-off. Trust me, I used to think personal branding was foolish and fake — synonymous with embellishment. You may be thinking, as I did:

I am not a brand.

I do not want to market myself.

I do not want to whip up a fake version of myself.

I want to honor my whole self and what I bring to the table without trying to be someone I’m not.

I get it.

One thing I’ve learned about personal branding — within the context of a job search — is that I can be true to myself while curating a relevant message toward a target role.

I see personal branding in two parts: Authenticity and Curation. When it comes to personal branding as a jobseeker, you need to both build and inhabit an impactful brand that lands call-backs.

Here are four delightful things to understand about your personal brand:

1.         You have one, whether you realize it or not. Whether you think it’s silly or not. We all have a personal brand that follows us around in the world. Simply put, it’s your reputation. The things you’re known for.

2.         If you decide not to communicate clearly what you’re about, you’ll blend in. If you decide to craft a targeted message about solutions you offer to employers, you’ll stand out.

3.         You’re in charge of it. You get to ensure it’s authentic, relevant, and that you’re content to embody/inhabit this version of yourself, in this particular season.  It doesn’t need to be flashy or “loud” (unless you want it to be). It simply needs to be clear, concise, and intriguing.

4.         It grows and changes with you. It’s never set in stone.


Your interview chances are nil unless you stand out from other applicants. Google any stat about your chances of landing an interview, and it won’t inspire confidence. For applicants with resume gaps, take that number and reduce it again. Caregiver bias is alive and well, even in a pandemic-era hiring landscape riddled with resume gaps. So crafting a message to employers that flies in the face of their assumptions is essential. That means having a fleshed-out personal brand that highlights your strengths/passions and signals what you stand for, what you’ve accomplished, and what you’re capable of achieving.

This message will infuse your LinkedIn profile and will be present in your headline, in your professional summary, and in your emails and direct messaging you do for networking purposes.

And as an extra bonus, knowing what you’re about and what you offer is a huge boost to your self-worth and keeps your job search laser-focused.

But other than being a mom, what, exactly, *are* you about?

Figuring this out requires time to reflect, a bit of soul-searching, a list of solid questions, a few trusted people to be a sounding board, and good ol’ strategy.


For moms with a hiatus from professional paid work or with a career pivot in mind, building a personal brand is a two-step process.


Take inventory by asking yourself the following questions and brain-dumping your honest answers. This initial phase is a sketch of your overarching personal brand. It’s the umbrella for all the possibilities. You are a dynamic individual, likely with multiple passions, skills, unique experiences, and achievements. Jot them all down. They don’t all have to make sense or come together seamlessly yet. This part should be fun! But if it’s not, and you’re at a loss, enlist a trusted friend or partner to help you out.

Write down the facts as well as your thoughts and observations about your:

•           Passions and interests

•           Education and work experience

•           Unpaid care work and volunteer work

•           Personality

•           Goals and aspirations

•           Values and mission

•           Strengths and skills

Answer these Qs:

What are you known for?

What motivates you?

Why are you unique?

What do you bring to the table?

Who do you want to influence?

What elements of your personality make you you?

Think back to your pre-baby professional experience, think about your unpaid or volunteer experiences and the people who have worked closely with you and reflect:

Do you have a reputation for something specific?

What do people say about you when you’re not in the room?

What do they say when you *are* in the room?

What do co-workers or teammates appreciate most about you?

What did colleagues or bosses say about you at your last jobs?

What does upper management or leadership appreciate most about you?

What do your neighbors say about you?

What do your community members (school, drop-in centers, library, moms-n-tots groups, faith groups, etc.) say about you?

What do trusted friends or family members say about you?

Once you’ve had a chance to jot down the answers to these questions, you might identify some themes, or you might see a whole lotta jumbled up unrelated pieces of your life on paper. Whatever you’ve got will be a great foundation.

Completing this first step – jotting down everything that comes to mind when asking yourself the above questions – is a huge task. Congrats! You’re ready for the next phase. It’s time to curate.

When creating a targeted resume for the role you’re after, you’ll take your “master resume” and select only relevant items (as opposed to cramming it with every single skill and experience you’ve ever had). In the same way, when you build a personal brand, you’ll take your “umbrella brand” and select the elements that will strengthen a personal brand that are relevant to the role(s) you’re after.

It’s about curating for relevancy. Not curating for dishonesty, to be someone you’re not, or to hide behind pretense. It’s about putting your best foot forward. It’s about your solutions offer.

What’s a solutions offer? This is your application trio (resume, cover letter, LinkedIn presence). Stop thinking compartmentally about a resume, letter, LinkedIn profile. Think holistically about your application trio as a clear, targeted message: a unique value proposition. What solutions do I offer? How do I solve problems? What have I accomplished? What am I capable of? What makes me unique? All within the context of specific industry trends, target companies, target roles. All three elements of your application will complement each other to accomplish one strategic message: “I’m the candidate you need for this role; these are the solutions I offer to help take company X to the next level, make money, save money, save time, improve efficiency, or make a bigger impact.”


Now it’s time to narrow your focus to a particular type of role you’ll be applying to (based on strengths, skills, passion, etc.) and then curate your brand toward that target role. A personal brand must be relevant to the type of job you’re after.

You’ve got about seven seconds to win over a decision-maker. A personal brand will streamline and synthesize things for them on your application documents, and make it easier for them to say “yes” to a call-back or interview.

Avoid a “Where’s Waldo” application, sending recruiters and hiring teams on a hunt to piece together what you’re about. Do the legwork for them. Make it easy.

You’ll need a key message, or unique value proposition — an intriguing and irresistible solutions offer.

Many re-entry parents and career transitioners aren’t quite sure what role would be the best fit. I get that. Here’s what to do:

With the skills you identified in your “umbrella brand,” do a bit of sleuthing. There are a ton of free tools on the internet that will match your skills to particular roles or will suggest career paths according to personality traits and strengths. This will give you a place to start.

  1. Free career assessment tools          
  2. Career quizzes to help you find your dream job        
  3. Free career aptitude and assessment tests        
  4. Even more career aptitude tests

Also, it’ll be super helpful to do a few informational interviews, especially if you’re looking at roles in an industry you’re unfamiliar with, or if you’ve been out for a long time and would appreciate a refresher in terms of “a day in the life.”

Reaching out to someone cold for an informational interview can feel daunting. I’ve put together a guide and email template you can use here.

If you’re considering positions that are super outside of your umbrella skillset, you’ll need to upskill and then craft a brand that connects the dots to show how you’re the perfect fit in the new role:

What diverse perspectives or experiences do you bring?

What have you achieved that translates to the new role?

What transferable skills are relevant?

What new/innovative/unexpected insight can you offer that brings value?

What courses have you taken or what projects are you working on to sharpen skills required for this role?

When considering roles, companies, industries, along with your skill set, also consider:

–   the season of life you and your children/family are in

–   the bandwidth you’ve got within it

–   the strength of your support system

–   what your long-term goals are

–   your list of non-negotiables (location, remote, benefits, hours, values alignment, etc.)

This will help to narrow down your potential role matches.


Once you *know* the job/role/industry you’re after, then you curate your brand. This means review the job postings, and take note of the key words, skills and experiences they’re looking for. You likely won’t tick all the boxes, but if you’ve got 60% or more of what’s listed, that’s a good sign!

Pluck the things from your umbrella brand that align with your target role(s) to start crafting a personal brand message.

Does what you wrote down align with the way you want to present yourself professionally, when you think about the role(s) you plan to apply for?

If not, how would you change it?

What action can you take to move towards the personal brand you want to embrace, identify with, and put into the [professional work] world?

The result should be authentic and something you are fired up about, something that uniquely encapsulates “you” — a you that people see, and a you that you want people to see.

Here’s an example. Maybe one of your children had a health issue that you managed for several years. If this experience and skill is relevant to the role you want, weave it in.

Here’s a mom who writes poetry (for fun, catharsis, creative outlet) and wants to land a data analytics role within healthcare. She’s currently upskilling in data analysis, taking free courses online. Her personal brand statement (that she can insert as her LinkedIn headline) might sound something like this:

Healthcare data analyst with 7 years in disease management | Telling stories with numbers helps avoid blunders | Type 1 Diabetes expert | Intrinsically motivated, data-obsessed | Poet | In a relationship with SQL & Python

It’s quirky, out there, clearly communicates what she’s about, solutions she offers, and how she’s unique. It’s fun and witty, and contains relevant keywords. She may want to switch up the order. She may want to make it less quirky. She may want it to speak directly to one target company based on their goals, mission, struggles found through company research and items outlined in the job description … Lots to play around with!

Also: She may not feel comfortable calling herself a “data analyst” quite yet. However, if she’s applying for a data analytics role and she’s upskilling to sharpen that skillset, then upon landing the role she’ll be a data analyst.

Take home message: don’t hesitate to use the job title of the role that you’re  applying for.

Lastly, putting a face to a name makes you stand out among other applicants. You may not want to upload a photo to your LinkedIn profile (many valid reasons for this), but if you choose the photo route, picking one that increases your likability might very well be the icing on your personal brand cake. 

Hot tip! A personal brand with a photograph on LinkedIn will rank you higher in recruiter searches and get you more overall views. And the cherry on top of your personal brand? A smile. Check out the test here, where my smiling photo received a likability rating 2x better than a non-smiling one.


Navigating a job search as a mom — whether re-entering the workforce or making a career change — is hard work, but worth the effort. Crafting a personal brand will immediately elevate your candidacy on LinkedIn, on your resume and cover letter, and in your networking. Plus, the image-boost comes full circle, infusing you with confidence and ease in reaching out.

·  LinkedIn is the largest professional networking site on the planet. A clear, strategic, targeted message makes you easy to spot.

·  A resume (and cover letter) laser-focused and infused with your brand will stand out.

·  Networking fans the flames of your application; without it, even a good resume can fall through the cracks and decision-makers quickly lose interest. Your personal brand is the springboard to these conversations.

If your job-search hasn’t gotten you very far, or you’re just starting out, give it a try — you’ve got nothing to lose.

Now, go and build a personal brand and kiss that self-doubt good-bye.

Rebecca Joy Tromsness is a workplace re-entry educator and job search coach based in Toronto. Follow her on LinkedIn here and reach out to her anytime at

Personal Branding 101 for Moms

Rebecca Joy Tromsness
March 21, 2023
Shawna Samuel
January 30, 2023

Your manager hands you a stretch assignment or even better, gives you a promotion. But all you feel is a nagging sense of doubt about your own ability — like a Greek chorus warning: “You’re not ready for this!”

Getting a vote of confidence from our leaders should leave us feeling more confident and powerful than ever, shouldn’t it? For many women, it actually does just the opposite, giving us intense pangs of self-doubt. We criticize our own performance, convinced we’re not measuring up, even when we’re getting good feedback.

Why is this happening? 

Meet Your Inner Critic

Some self-doubt is natural when we take on new responsibilities. After all, we may not have 100% of the skills and experience we need going in. A little fear can even be useful when it motivates us to assess our gaps and make a plan to fill them.

But sometimes the voice of self-doubt can feel more like an unruly backseat driver. Researchers tend to call that negative, critical voice our “inner critic.” Everyone has one.

But, bottom line: if self-doubt leaves you anxious at the end of the day, or second-guessing what you (or colleagues) say in meetings, then you’ll want to learn to turn the volume down on that inner noise.

Sometimes the inner critic is strong enough that it begins to undermine our confidence. Known as Imposter Syndrome, it’s characterized by strong feelings that we’re a fraud, and that others will eventually find out the “truth” about our abilities. And it can start to impact our performance at work. 

This was the case for my client Erin*, who secured a coveted promotion to the executive VP ranks of her firm. On the surface, it was a crowning achievement of her decade of success in a heavily male-dominated field. But her smile felt forced. She felt like all eyes were on her, waiting to see if she measured up to her new title.

Instead of relaxing and enjoying her upgraded role and salary bump, Erin was feeling more pressure than ever. In meetings, she scoured the faces of her new peers for signs they might be doubting her performance. She resisted sharing her own ideas, worried that she might say the thing that would expose her as woefully unprepared for her new duties. Ironically, she was probably the most prepared person in the room; the constant self-doubt led her to double-down on the amount of time she spent shoring up her knowledge and double-checking presentations. But the extra time at work also meant less time with her five-year-old daughter, and an embarrassingly short fuse when she was at home.

She started to wonder if the promotion had even been worth it. In her old role, she knew her stuff, and hadn’t needed to work this hard. She even considered trying to get her old job back.

We worked together to quiet her inner critic, so that she could begin to see herself as the trailblazing leader that others saw.

The Role of Bias

Imposter syndrome is regularly “diagnosed” in women in leadership roles. Even high achieving women who have collected prestigious degrees and titles aren’t immune from feeling it. 

Early psychological research led many leadership scholars to conclude that imposter syndrome was some sort of pathology. If they could just “fix” their imposter syndrome, the thinking went, these people could stop doubting themselves and start feeling happy, confident, and fulfilled.

But new research suggests that imposter syndrome is not some sort of failing. If anything, it’s a sign of how finely tuned our internal radar is. If you’ve been socialized as a woman, you’ve likely absorbed big and small cultural messages about who belongs in leadership and who doesn’t. This can be as subtle as the holiday newsletter picturing the all-white, all-male executive team. Or it can be a pattern of how women are treated in meetings.

In the Harvard Business Review, Ruchika Tulsyan and Jodi-Ann Burey assert, “Many of us across the world are implicitly, if not explicitly, told we don’t belong in white- and male-dominated workplaces.” 

In cultures that routinely insinuate that female leaders are less capable, and that working mothers are more expendable, it’s not surprising that we end up questioning whether we really measure up.

So, it’s helpful to understand that feeling like an imposter often has roots in real biases. And yet, that doesn’t mean we’re stuck feeling this way.

Taming the Inner Critic

The most common advice for dealing with your inner critic is “fake it til you make it.” Or maybe you’ve been encouraged to recite affirmations of how amazing and smart you are. The trouble with this advice is that it doesn’t do much to address the real anxieties and pressures that come up when we’re working outside our comfort zone.

So, what can you do to regain your mojo?

1) Learn to identify the voice of your inner critic

Listen in and learn to identify the voice of your inner critic. You’ll probably realize that the voice of the imposter typically offers a predictable monologue of a few doubt-inducing phrases. Maybe it says, “you have no idea what you’re doing,” or “they probably think you’re clueless.” 

You might even give that voice a name. One colleague of mine calls hers Frank. She’ll then tell herself, “Oh, there goes Frank again, telling me my work isn’t good enough.” Calling out your imposter voice can remind you that it isn’t the voice of truth. It’s just good old Frank, like the reliably cranky uncle at your holiday dinners.

2) Question internalized messages about your capabilities

Once you understand how your inner critic speaks to you, consider where it got its script. When you notice the critic in your ear, ask yourself, “What is it that I’ve heard or experienced that’s making me want to believe that voice?” 

Question whether you truly believe those outside messages. Chances are, you don’t. 

3) Seek out diverse role models and mentors

Part of what can make our inner critic so pernicious is feeling like we don’t have a place to share our doubts or any help navigating them. Imposter feelings aren’t something we can easily discuss with our colleagues or friends… and certainly not our bosses. 

Tulsyan and Burey posit that those socialized as men often benefit from a built-in network of colleagues who look like them. Those networks can offer encouragement and advice at critical moments. Having that support and camaraderie may help men to view doubt as a normal phase of growth, and allow them to move through it more easily.

Women may have to work harder to build those support systems, but they’re no less important. If your workplace isn’t teeming with a diverse set of successful role models — and let’s be honest, few places are — then it’s time to expand your circle. Women’s leadership groups, a trusted mentor, an experienced coach, or even a supportive alumni organization can provide steadfast support to help you move through challenging circumstances. 

4) Recall your options and resources

Even in a recession, your current gig is probably not the only game in town. If your imposter is right — unlikely, but let’s go there — and you’re not cut out for your work, remind yourself of the skills and abilities you have to fall back on, the things that got you this far in your life and career. When clients do this exercise, they often discover that they have options —  usually a lot of options. Seeing how resilient, resourceful, and capable you are can take the pressure off and get you back into the zone of enjoying your current opportunity to learn and grow.

If you start hearing your own inner critic, these steps can help you successfully manage it. In fact, learning to silence that negative voice can shore up your confidence to take on even bigger challenges down the road.

Shawna Samuel, MBA is the founder of The Mental Offload, an executive coaching firm focused on the unique needs of women balancing leadership and family responsibilities. She is also the host of The Mental Offload podcast.

*Name has been changed

Imposter Syndrome: Four steps to taming your inner critic

Shawna Samuel
January 30, 2023
Kerry Barlas
January 3, 2023

I was a stay-at-home mom. When my sons were young, I stepped away from my 10-year advertising sales career to become my family’s primary caregiver and household manager. With no roadmap for my career pause, I took a leap of faith. The days were long and often tedious. And at times, I felt conflicted about how I was spending my time and energy. But to this day, I have zero regrets — my memories of those years are filled with some of my sweetest moments. 

After an 8-year break from the traditional workforce, my younger son started Kindergarten. And the next day, I dove head-first into rebooting my career. While I was away, the media and advertising landscape as I’d known it had changed, so I embarked on a crash course to get savvy. But I was confident that the skills and strengths that drove my success in v1 of my career would serve me in v2. Plus, I’d built new skills and grown immensely during my most significant and challenging role ever — motherhood. 

Within a few months and after many conversations with people in my extended network, I landed a sales role with a small advertising technology company. And a few months after that, I left for a dream job at Facebook, where I spent eight transformative years. How did I do it? 1) I leveraged my network near and far, connecting with people with whom I hadn’t spoken in years, 2) I was fortunate to encounter leaders who, despite my career pause, were willing to take a chance on me, and 3) I truly believed that I was more capable and empowered than ever and that anything was possible.

By sharing my story, I hope to help normalize career breaks and embolden women to embrace hitting the pause button. So whether you’re taking a break, considering one, or planning your reentry to the workplace, here are some of the lessons I learned along the way.

Cherish the time and have trust in yourself

If you’re taking a pause, trust your decision and honor the time wholeheartedly. This is a precious time for you and your family, so make the most of it. Your capacity, strength, smarts, and skills will not diminish! Trust that you’ll be able to access everything you need and more when the time comes. When I was uncomfortable and conflicted, I worked hard to stay engaged in the experience of being a full-time stay-at-home mom. And I had faith that I would figure out my next move when the time was right.

Keep your interests and strengths alive

If you want to do unpaid or volunteer work during your break, be strategic about your choices. I made a special effort to seek out unpaid projects that leveraged my experience, strengths, and passion points. For example, I wrote restaurant reviews for a friend’s start-up food website and helped with a monetization strategy. I also volunteered my time working for the marketing director of a local youth crisis center, and was part of the leadership team responsible for rebuilding our community playground. 

Whatever your choices, take pride in that work, and make it part of your career highlights. Showcase your volunteer achievements using LinkedIn’s recently launched Career Breaks tool, designed specifically to “make it easier for candidates and recruiters to have open conversations around the skills and experiences professionals amass away from the traditional workplace.”  

Build a support network

When you embark upon your return to work, invest in a coach to help you clarify your strengths and skills, define what you want, and chart your path. Even when it feels uncomfortable, push yourself to schedule coffees, lunches, calls, and walks with anyone you can learn from and be inspired by. The work I did with my coach in the months leading up to my reboot was essential to building my confidence and believing in what I could do next.  

Commit to your story

As you’re considering returning to work, become crystal clear on your path to date, your distinct qualities, experiences, and skills, and what you want to do in the next chapter. Write it down, practice saying it aloud, and get feedback from trusted advisors. This is your story, and your ability to articulate it compellingly is vital as you launch your career reboot. I knew that I wanted to return to a role similar to the one I had left eight years prior and that I was capable of stepping back into it. I wasn’t willing to settle for a position that didn’t meet, if not challenge, my capacity and skills. This clarity allowed me to achieve my goals.

Be unapologetic

When interviewing for new roles, own your story, and make no apologies for the time you took off. Contrary to what many may fear, pausing our careers to spend more time with our families makes us better employees and leaders. We’ve gained invaluable perspective, become wiser and more adaptable, and tackled a new set of challenges. Here’s the authentic story I told and continue to tell: I’m grateful for having had the privilege to take a career break and spend more time in my kids’ lives. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And now, I could not be more excited for the next chapter and to get back to work. Next question!

The prospect of taking a break or planning your return to work can feel both daunting and exciting. I encourage you to create your own playbook and stay open to the possibilities. And don’t apologize — it’s okay to take your foot off the gas. Finally, have trust that you’ll find your way back when you’re ready. I’m rooting for you.

Kerry Barlas is the Founder/CEO of KBar + Co, a sales coaching and advising firm. You can reach her at

No Apologies: Navigating your career break and return to work

Kerry Barlas
January 3, 2023
Sarah Sperry
November 15, 2022

Have you found yourself in the “default parenting” role without even realizing how you got there? And by default parenting, I mean that you’re the one who does the lion’s share of the day-to-day work to run your household — managing the kids’ schedules and all the accompanying text chains, making sure your pantry is stocked with food and thinking through meals for the week, getting all the laundry done, folded, and put away, knowing where your child’s favorite soccer jersey is or that special blanket that he/she loves so much, packing lunches… as well as being the primary homework helper, emotional support system and keeper of all things in your house. 

Sound familiar? This is what researchers of gender equity in the home call the “emotional load,” “mental load” or “second shift,” and in many countries, the majority of women carry this burden on top of their responsibilities at work. 

And it’s burning out working mothers at unprecedented rates. 

According to Deloitte’s Women at Work 2022: A Global Outlook Report, 53% of women surveyed say their stress levels are higher than they were a year ago and almost half report feeling burned out. The disruption caused by the pandemic as well as shifts in company expectations led to the Great Resignation where more than a million women left the workforce (myself included) because their caretaking responsibilities became too much. And now we are seeing the “great breakup,” with female leaders demanding more from their employers and willing to leave their current jobs to get it.

It is estimated that women spend on average three to six hours per day on cooking, cleaning, and other domestic tasks, compared to men’s average 30 minutes to two hours. And according to a January 2020 report from Oxfam, the unpaid labor of women and girls around the world contributes an estimated $10.8 trillion to the global economy each year. Women’s unpaid labor at home increased by 153% during the pandemic, and it’s estimated they experienced approximately $800 billion in lost income.

These are mind boggling statistics and a huge challenge for the overall care economy, the fastest growing sector of work in the world. So how can we begin to solve these mounting gender equity issues and tip the scale to make invisible labor at home more equal?

Eve Rodsky’s New York Times best selling book Fair Play provides a framework for how to start. A Harvard trained mediation lawyer, the premise of her book is that our home is our most important organization and without systems and processes in place to make it run efficiently, other areas of our life will begin to crack. While I highly recommend reading the book, here are some simple strategies you can implement in your home right away:

1. Take a step back and ask yourself if there are better, more efficient ways to organize your home life

When you are operating on autopilot, hammering out the 22 things on your personal to-do list on top of a full day of meetings, the daily grind can be exhausting. And in many cases you may find yourself deciding that it’s easier to just do it yourself instead of delegating or asking for help. 

This mentality leads to overwhelm and could eventually burn you out. 

First: Take stock of everything on your plate and make a list of your invisible work — whatever you do to run your household. And do include everything — even small tasks like taking a minute to reply to a school email.

Then assess your strengths and weaknesses as they relate to each task, and consider your partner’s as well. Add these as notes next to each item on the list. 

Next: Ask yourself which tasks you wish you had help with. Which tasks bring you resentment? Which ones do you absolutely hate doing? Ask your partner the same questions. 

Finally: Ask yourself which tasks you’re willing to let go of completely. Sometimes for high achieving, people pleasing, Type A personalities, giving up control and allowing someone else to take over can be the hardest part. 

Let’s say that through this exercise you discover that both you and your partner absolutely hate doing laundry. Then perhaps you could consider outsourcing it. Or maybe your partner would love to start taking your toddler to his/her wellness checks but you’ve just never thought of asking — it’s just a task you’ve taken on by default. 

Depending on the ages and responsibility levels of your children, you may be able to start sharing more of the mental load with them as well. For example, think of that long school supply list you have to purchase every August. Perhaps you can let them select their own items on Amazon and add them to the shopping cart. Or maybe they can simply add those snacks they want you to buy to the master shopping list or Instacart basket.

Remember you are a team, and it takes a village to run a family!

2. No is beautiful

For people-pleasing personalities, saying no can be difficult. But learning to decline and set better boundaries are important skills to learn, especially when overwhelm and burnout start to set in. 

Pause before you say yes to anything extra. Assess if you have room on your plate to host the Thanksgiving dinner, volunteer at your child’s school, or cook a meal for a friend. While we all want to be kind and do charitable work, “I’ll get back to you,” is a perfectly acceptable answer which can give you more time and space to decide whether you have the capacity to take it on.

At work, take control of your calendar to block out some time for yourself, whether it’s a workout or just an hour to focus on a task without distractions. Assess if every meeting request you receive is a valuable use of your time. Can the issue be solved another way? And make sure to work within established systems and processes. Is what you are being asked to do part of your core job responsibilities? Are there other ways you can delegate or are your perfectionist tendencies getting in the way of your successfully doing that?

Remember that saying no can feel empowering and provide autonomy if your mental load is starting to overwhelm you.

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate

While talking with your partner about complex gender equity issues may feel heavy and not particularly fun, it’s really important to try to communicate how the mental load makes you feel. 

Chronic stress and burnout can lead to all sorts of emotional and physical symptoms, and there are lots of willing partners who want to help but may not even realize everything you’ve taken on.

From conception to birth and in the early days of caring for an infant, a woman’s body dictates the process, with our partners learning to assist. As an infant grows and reaches the toddler phase, it can be very easy to continue those early patterns where the birthing parent is in charge and the non-birthing partner waits for direction. Shifting that conditioning as your children get older takes open communication, patience, and a lot of practice!

Try discussing these topics when you’re out to dinner, over a glass of wine, or after the kids go to sleep when emotions are low and cognition is high. Or if you have a regular weekly check-in to discuss logistics for the week, use this time to discuss what’s working for each of you, what isn’t, and perhaps suggest swapping a few chores. 

Sharing the mental load with others will bring you more energy, joy and patience — allowing you to thrive instead of survive.

Sarah Sperry is a certified Executive Health and Wellbeing Coach and a Fair Play Facilitator. She has over 20 years of experience working in the financial services industry where she was actively involved in DEI, leadership, advocating for better parental leave policies, and overall culture change. She can be reached at or on social media @sperrywellness.

Three Simple Tips to Rebalance the Mental Load in Your Home

Sarah Sperry
November 15, 2022
Team Laddrr
October 11, 2022

There are plenty of good reasons to look for a new job right now. Still-low unemployment rates mean that candidates have leverage in negotiations and a good shot at landing a plum role with a nice compensation package. The abundance of open positions offering location or schedule flexibility increases the likelihood of finding a role that could be truly life changing. And of course, financial need or fear of layoffs could certainly be a motivating factor.

Whatever the reason for your job search, you’ll want to make sure that the employers you’re courting support your particular needs for work-life integration. After all, if your new company sets you up for success as both an employee and a mom, you’re more likely to excel at work and at home, enjoy working for your employer, and feel happier overall. And really, isn’t that the goal? In this spirit, here are our top benefit picks with moms in mind.

Parental leave. But not just any parental leave. Generous and equitable fully paid parental leave, with a super-low 0-6 month tenure requirement. What’s more, the employer should offer the same leave to both men and women… and strongly encourage everyone to take it! Why? Because normalizing parental leave for both moms and dads means that you won’t take a career hit because of your time off. And getting spouses involved in caretaking from the get-go sets the standard for equal sharing of unpaid caregiving work at home. Which, of course, is good for YOU.

Post-leave back-to-work programs. Going back to work after maternity leave can be very difficult — it’s common to feel guilty leaving your baby, unsure of how you’ll handle both employee and parent responsibilities, and nervous about any changes at work that happened while you were gone. Back-to-work programs allow for a more gradual transition. New moms work part-time at full pay for the first month post-leave and often receive coaching or extra support.

Non-baby caretaker leave. It’s true that new babies need care, and that parents need time to bond with their newest additions. But children don’t stop requiring care just because maternity leave has ended. Caretaker leave allows time off to look into medical, developmental, or educational issues that arise as your kids are growing up, and also to provide care for your own aging parents as needed. 

Subsidized on-site childcare. If you’re considering an on-site or hybrid role in a large company and have young children, this one’s an obvious perk to look for. 69% of women with children under 5 would be more likely to choose an employer that offered on-site daycare or benefits to help pay for childcare — and with reason. It’s easier to relax and do your best work when you know your children are nearby and can be reached at a moment’s notice. Without an extra commute to drop off and pick up kids, you gain extra time in your day. And then there’s cost savings. Need we say more?  

Backup childcare. Nanny sick? No school today? This temporary backup care is designed to step in when your regular childcare arrangements are disrupted, either expectedly (such as for scheduled closings, holidays and vacations) or unexpectedly (due to illness, inclement weather, and the like). Corporate-subsidized backup childcare alleviates stress and allows you to keep working. 

Dependent care flex spending accounts. Childcare is just plain expensive. Dependent care flex spending accounts allow parents to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for childcare, which can result in non-trivial savings.

Fertility support and services. Some of us need a little extra help becoming moms. When this is the case, benefits that help pay for expensive services such as in-vitro fertilization and egg/embryo freezing can be the deciding factor in your choice of workplace.

Organization-wide salary reviews. At the end of the day, most of us are working in order to earn money, and salary matters. The motherhood penalty is real, with moms earning an average of 15% less for each child under 5. So fair pay is essential. Ask about company-wide salary reviews. If the employer ensures equity by level and position across the organization, that means you’re less likely to fall into the pay gap. 

Equity-focused performance reviews.  Many companies have annual performance reviews to evaluate employees’ accomplishments and growth areas. The best companies also ensure that all employees (regardless of gender or maternal status) are given equal opportunities for learning, growth, visibility and advancement. Think of things like highly visible projects, task force participation, and leadership opportunities. This is the stuff that promotions are made of, so ask if it’s allocated fairly and equitably.

Lactation rooms. Just ask anyone who’s had to pump in a corporate multi-stall restroom. If you work on-site, having a clean, comfortable, private place to pump milk multiple times a day does make a difference.

MilkStork. This service for nursing moms who take business trips ships freshly pumped milk home for consumption or safe keeping. 

Mental health services. Life plus work can be stressful at times. Adding parenting to that formula can considerably up the ante. Mental health benefits can provide therapy or coaching sessions to help ride the inevitable waves.

Women or parent-focused employee resource groups (ERGs). Finding community and support among colleagues who also happen to be parents can make for understanding ears, fabulous connections, and positive feelings about your workplace.

Got other benefits we should add to the list? Let us know!

Mom working with twin sons

Employee Benefits: Top picks for moms

Team Laddrr
October 11, 2022
Rachel Pontes
September 12, 2022

In 1955, my grandma looked out from her stage — an arena filled with patched up living room furniture, acquaintances guzzling their sixth Goan beer, and party streamers flowing like the drapes of velvet stage curtains.

Her voice rang out, dropping down and then soaring high, full and then whispery soft. As her last note faded, she took in the trembling passion with a huge inhale, promising herself that living room performances were enough, that they had to be enough because Papa had shot down her pleading for a musical degree as fast as he was now shooting down his tangy beer. 

Living in India, I could not understand why being female made you less of a person, and yet I was constantly hit by painful reminders that it did. I saw my grandma’s reality echoed across the country with women I knew, women in hospitals after being attacked with acid, women like my mom who had to stand up for herself as the only woman in her engineering college.

“The world is changing,” my dad assured me.

Is it? If it was, it was changing too slowly. The unfairness of it left me with the deep seated conviction that something was wrong. 

The next few years I stood up as often as I could, my voice ringing with cries of change.

The first time I took the stage — my arena filled with a hundred girls sitting on overgrown blades of grass under a makeshift hut roof — I launched into a what-would-soon-be-weekly English class I taught to underprivileged girls in Goregaon, India.

Two years later, I took the stage — my arena filled with chipped tables, fidgety eight-year-olds, and the stifling heat of Mumbai summers — and I delved into a lesson on gender inequality that I had been recruited to teach at an Indian government school.

A few years later, after moving with my family to the US, I launched FEdream, an organization dedicated to sending underprivileged girls in India through college, hoping to fill a gap I believe has the potential to change lives. Today, FEdream has funded and cultivated a community of over seventy-five women, hosted career fairs, and partnered with large organizations and companies like Schlumberger who see the value in our mission. 

About a year ago, I took the stage once more — my arena, a machine design class I found myself the only female student in. This disparity rang true across the training institute hosted by IMTMA, the 65-year-old Indian Machine Tool Manufacturers Association. Filled with trepidation about challenging authority (and god forbid, seeming ungracious), I set up a meeting with the six male directors of IMTMA to explore the possibility of proactively including women in their programs. To my elation, they acknowledged the disparity, and together, we created a production and design program for underprivileged women engineers, funded by FEdream. A couple months later, a cohort of women made history as the first female class and the most women the institute had ever seen. 

When I was given the opportunity to get involved with Laddrr, I said yes immediately. For me, the fight for equality has always centered around education and I have seen the impact it can have. Laddrr’s mission to empower millions of women with educational resources and organizations resonated. 

In late August the Laddrr team took the stage — its arena, the podium at the New York Stock Exchange where the closing bell would chime in honor of Women’s Equality Day. Listening to speeches at the restaurant before walking over, I was struck by what one of the male speakers pointed out. We women so often question and discount ourselves — we tell ourselves we are not qualified, our ideas are silly, our efforts are small. We swallow our words, desperately afraid of seeming incompetent. I realized that in a world where women are still fighting for equality, I need to stop cutting myself down. I vowed to pay attention to the way I behave in the future. 

As the closing bell clanged, its ring filling the room, TV screens, and our hearts with hope, I thought back to my grandmother’s silenced voice and smiled. The world is hearing us now. 

Rachel Pontes is the founder of FEdream, Laddrr’s Young Adult Advocacy board member, and a freshman at Dartmouth College.

Stages on the Way to Equality

Rachel Pontes
September 12, 2022
Ariel Rosen
August 10, 2022

When I joined Twitter as a mom of three in my mid-thirties, I was hardly expecting fireworks. The pandemic was in full swing, and I’d found myself forced to return to work after taking a few years off to be with my three young kids. So here I was, back at work full-time in EdTech, with my oldest two trying to adapt to online learning amidst a global shutdown. My littlest, 5, not yet in school, remained glued to my side, drawing on her iPad, while I attempted to work from home.  

I initially created that Twitter account to learn about digital collectables, or NFTs, which seemed like the perfect distraction from my Covid reality. My first love is the arts, and I was excited at the prospect of collecting these beautiful, digital creations — and directly supporting the artists who made them. Traditionally, if an artist sells an original work of art, they do not continue to profit from that work if it’s sold again in the future. But NFTs are different. The secondary sales of these pieces can continue to support the original artist via royalties set in a smart contract. As little as I understood at the time, I could tell this was something revolutionary. So I set out to learn more about the blockchain technology that enabled it.

I began my Web3 journey by discovering different artists in the space and carefully dipping my toes into the NFT waters. But it wasn’t until the emergence of women-led NFT projects that I really found my place and my people. I was ecstatic to find projects with diverse female artists and founders creating art that celebrated women! These projects had carefully thought out roadmaps, admirable goals, and large charitable components benefiting causes I believed in. As I explored the different collections, I saw how each project had cultivated its own unique community. And immersing myself in these different Web3 communities was truly transformative. The support and love we gave to one another during this difficult time was unlike anything else I had ever experienced. The world around us was crumbling, but here we were, learning, growing, exploring, and traversing this new technological terrain together. We were listening to and uplifting one another, often chatting day and night, and excitedly sharing any new knowledge or skills. It was exhilarating connecting with women from all over the world over our shared values and passions, all within the context of this groundbreaking art. 

My littlest, who was right by my side during this time, was just as excited by this whole process as I was. We would spend hours exploring these digital collections together, basking in their tremendous beauty. Meanwhile, she had been spending her days creating her own works of digital art on her iPad — a collection of magical unicorns holding their favorite sweet treats. Of course our online explorations sparked ideas for new traits she could draw for her unicorns. “Look at the rainbow teeth on that Bored Ape! I want to make something like that for the unicorns. Check out the astronauts in the Women Rise collection. They’re ALL girls! And so are the Boss Beauties! Wow, all of the World of Women are soooo beautiful, Mommy!” It was magical seeing the collections through her eyes, watching the art inspire her, and then witnessing what she would create. Before long, she had drawn hundreds of traits for her unicorns — a similar number, we learned, to those featured in the large collections we’d been following. As we explored together how these collections were made, we learned about the process of generative art, where all the traits are imported into a system which randomizes them and spits out a collection made up of individual pieces that are similar, yet unique. Then one day the idea just clicked: these sweet unicorns with their hundreds of traits would become their own generative art collection. 

Since that time, my daughter’s characters have evolved even further — they’re now the foundation of an early childhood educational media company with the goal of educating and onboarding more parents and kids to Web3. We break down the technical concepts so they’re easier to grasp, and we help families explore Web3’s incredible potential. Never in a million years did I see myself founding a company, but the opportunity to build something impactful, together with my child, feels like a dream come true. Who knows what will come from this new venture, but it has solidified for me that we are never too old (or too young!) to start something new. 

Ariel Rosen is Director of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships at LawShelf and founder of SweetCorns. You can find her on Twitter at @SweetCorns_NFT.

Web3 Stories: Unicorns beside me

Ariel Rosen
August 10, 2022
Mireia de Andrés Puyol
July 28, 2022

I’ve always embraced change. Brought up in Spain, I got my MBA in the UK, worked as an intern for a real estate company in Miami and then in private banking in Geneva before launching a fashion brand in Los Angeles. But by the time I became pregnant with my baby girl in March 2021, I was working in Madrid as COO of Medcap Real Estate, my family’s business. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, and my mom always taught me to be independent and to work hard to create a life I am proud of. 

I’d been investing in Crypto since 2016 and discovered NFTs and Web3 four years later. But for whatever reason I became enthralled with it during my pregnancy. I started learning about blockchain technology, minted my first NFT, and then decided to rescue my forsaken Twitter account so I could follow people prominent in the space. On December 18th I gave birth to Ginevra, and I distinctly remember asking my husband about the floor price of my NFTs from my hospital bed. Crazy? Absolutely.

I took advantage of Spain’s standard 4 months of maternity leave. I was super tired and also sad and sensitive all the time — postpartum depression is real. Web3 provided a needed distraction, and the process of learning felt good, as if I were nurturing myself and the baby at the same time. 

Somehow, becoming a mom with all of the related hormonal disruption plus my deep dive into Web3 provoked another change in me. I realized I had an easy life. I was comfortable and very lucky. My baby was healthy. I had an amazing family, a great job and good friends. But I also realized that I needed more. I felt compelled to pursue something bigger, to create something important for my daughter. I needed to prove to her that women are strong. That we can do anything.

As I gained more and more followers on Twitter, I began working as a Web3 advisor, helping friends launch their NFT collections and acting as an ambassador for NFT communities. I started posting motivational quotes and advice to help other women in the industry. And I credit Ginevra for all of this, because as I was breastfeeding, I was also working, chatting, and learning. It was a moment for us to be together, and also for me to work on my future career. And since I was nursing every 3-4 hours around the clock, I was able to meet and chat with people from all over the world — and I loved it.

Having promoted music festivals in Spain on and off as a fun side gig, I was very familiar with the flaws of the ticketing industry. I found a solution to those problems in blockchain technology, and soon after quit my job as COO to work full time on my startup. 

I’m not going to say that working from home with a baby is easy. It’s not. But somehow when we become mothers, we gain power and strength we didn’t have before. Freedom in motherhood begins when you let go of the mom you think you should be and embrace the mom you are. 

My daughter is my motivation. She gives me courage and determination to make anything happen. I’m working hard now so that as she grows, I can spend more time with her and show her what her mom built. All I hope is that years from now, when she sees the life I’ve created for her, she’s proud I am her mom.

Mireia de Andrés Puyol is the former COO of Medcap Real Estate and cofounder of Reveler. You can find her on Twitter at @missnft91.

Mireia and baby

Web3 Stories: Newborn inspiration

Mireia de Andrés Puyol
July 28, 2022
Malinda Coler
July 18, 2022

At LessonsUp, I’m pretty hands-on in supporting our cohorts of job seekers — which means that I answer plenty of questions from moms looking to transition their careers. The most common concerns I hear, especially from those who have taken any kind of career break, are about resumes. 

  • “What do I do when my most relevant paid work experience happened a while ago?” 
  • “I’ve been working for a long time. How much of my background do I include?”
  • “I shouldn’t mention volunteer roles, should I?” 
  • And of course, “How do I hide my career break?”

Resume fears make it hard to move forward. We tend to compare our career history to a golden standard, but this is our own fear speaking. There is no golden standard. We all have unique lives, and hence unique career paths. To build the best resume to show your strengths, use my top three resume tips for moms pivoting careers:

1. Focus on key results 

In my classes, I talk a lot about key results, or brief statements that show the impact of work you did. Your career experience on your resume should lead with results first. It goes like this: Results – Action – Context. The bullet points in your work history (which CAN include volunteer work!) should first quantify the value of your work. Then you can explain the action you took and the context. 

For example:

● Ran email marketing campaigns using Hubspot, developed copy, analyzed analytics, and advised marketing leadership


● Increased website traffic by 6% within 3 months by developing and executing email marketing campaigns. 

See the moms’ resumes below for more examples of key results. To develop your key result bullet points, avoid talking about busy work and ask yourself questions like:

  1. What did I own?
  2. Why did I do the work I did?
  3. What was the impact of my work?

2. Keep it to one page

Your resume will get better results if it’s all on one side of one page. Essentially, you’re providing a summary of your selling points to entice the recruiter to contact you. So you only need to show the best of your work, not the whole story. 

Also, recruiters scan each resume for only about 5 seconds before going to the next one. So it’s definitely most effective for you to have all of your important information — contact information, skills, work history and education — visible at a glance.

3. Own any time you’ve taken off to spend with your family

Don’t hide it! Time you’ve spent away from work does not dictate where you go next in your career. Give it a name and a job entry, and if appropriate, populate it with key results. Here’s how some of the moms in our programs have done it:

The mom in this first example states her skills and achievements before her work history to make a strong impression before people see her career break.

This mom, who homeschooled a special needs child, defines her career break in terms of key results that she achieved as a homeschool mom deeply involved in the community.

If you’ve had special circumstances that called you away from your career, be clear about them. This could be medical, caregiving, or other unique family circumstances. This mom couldn’t work because of immigration processing and stated it clearly on her resume.

Regardless of the details surrounding your work history, you can own and promote your experiences, skills and accomplishments on your resume using key results. People are hiring you for the value you bring, and time off — or any other anomaly in your career trajectory — does not take away from that. If you’re still not sure how to frame your work history, come join us and we’ll do it together!

Malinda Coler is Cofounder and CEO of LessonsUp, helping underrepresented people pivot their careers.

Top Three Resume Tips for Moms

Malinda Coler
July 18, 2022
Elyse Dub
July 6, 2022

I recently proclaimed to my family, “I’m not cooking dinner at all next week.” Although this may seem a bit dramatic and maybe even a little harsh, a few predictable life factors contributed to my decision: 

1) My daughters would be out of school. 

2) I had a number of important work deadlines that I was looking forward to meeting.

3) My prior experience tells me that my girls need me to be more accessible during the empty weeks between school and the start of their summer activities.

4) I knew that something needed to give for me to feel that I could have quality time with my family while also being present for professional responsibilities.

While the content of this scenario will vary between individuals, the crux of this example is a common theme for working moms who are trying to simultaneously juggle multiple responsibilities and do it all.  

Throughout my work as a licensed psychologist with parents, young adults and children for the past twenty years, I talk a lot about the rhythms we have in both our personal and professional lives. A rhythm is like a vibe or preferred way of navigating life events and while not tangible, it is something you can literally feel in the air. Within households and in offices, I frequently hear about and see individuals with different rhythms. Some like constant back-to-back activities and multi-tasking and others need bursts of a singular activity followed by downtime to decompress before starting something new. Oftentimes, people with different rhythms are asked to get things done together or they may be family members living under the same roof. To add to this complexity, for some individuals and situations, rhythms are consistent and reliable and for others they are less predictable. Overall, these situations can lead to stress and conflict in relationships. 

Consider the following as you think about the rhythms around you: How would you describe the rhythm at work a week prior to a project launch or deadline? How about the day before? What is the pace you like to have at work? And at home? What is the rhythm of your family members regarding task completion? 

Parents often share with me how rhythms in their households can vary between family members, which makes it difficult and frustrating to get out of the house in the morning and transition, unflustered, to work and school. Furthermore, several clients report that while they can appreciate that people have different rhythms, they feel less skilled in knowing how to listen, read, and respond to the rhythms experienced. So how can you figure out how to work with the rhythms around you? 

  • Describe the rhythms you are sensing in yourself and others. Are they slow and steady? Shut down? Rush, rush, rush? Or something in between? Naming them can help you prepare for them. The important point here is not about accuracy, but about getting in touch with your perception of each rhythm.
  • Take a pause and think. How have I reacted to this rhythm in similar situations in the past? What was successful for me? And what was not as helpful?
  • What can I do differently this time to improve the outcome? 

Reflect on your answers, trust your gut, and consider your options for responding. In some situations, you may only have a few moments to run through these steps, but in others, like my “no cooking” example, you can prepare in advance. And if I had to name the rhythm in my house this week, it would be “slow it down,” describing the current shift to a less predictable summer schedule and the need to take some additional time to think through and process what lies ahead. 

So why is it important to consider rhythms? Understanding our rhythms allows us to gain a better sense of ourselves and our needs. When we read others’ rhythms, we can more thoughtfully respond so that the other person feels understood and appreciated, which provides the foundation for trusting relationships. 

Listening to and trusting your assessment of these rhythms can also be helpful in building routines. So what exactly is a routine? A routine is more like a play-by-play of events. Routines happen both at work and at home. In some instances, routines are expected, such as a weekly team meeting, and in other cases, the routine can feel like a moving target, such as a kid’s sport schedule. 

If you find yourself struggling when routines shift during transition times, you’re in good company. My professional colleagues and I often discuss how surges in outreach to our offices may be related to different rhythms and changing routines. In fact, we’ve all noticed that we typically receive an influx of calls just prior to and after weekends, in the days leading up to vacations, and in anticipation of major life transitions — which are all valid and common changes to acknowledge and consider. 

While there are several wonderful resources for time management, being productive at work, and establishing routines with families at home, I believe you can understand your own rhythms and routines by thinking about the following: 

  • What are the circumstances that allow me to get work done? (Consider time of day, duration of focused time, need for breaks, physical space, personal/family commitments)
  • What are the demands of my job? (Commuting? Virtual meetings with kids at home? Travel? What about the pace?)
  • Are my circumstances and demands in alignment? 
  • How do I like to schedule time?
  • How does each member of my immediate household like to structure time? In other words, how are your rhythms different from those of your family members? 
  • What are the external demands that we depend on and that dictate how we spend our time (e.g., work meetings, sports schedules, etc.)? 

In my case, I felt proud of myself for realizing how and why I needed to add time to my week and also confident that I’d be able to follow through on what I’d promised to myself both as a professional and as a mom. We all have within us the power to not only perceive, but to trust and react to what we see and experience. Take a moment to watch, listen, and learn the rhythms in your life and how you can use that information to build routines that work for you and your family. 

Elyse Dub is a psychologist and founder of Insight Onsite, a life wellness company that helps people build human connections at work. 

A Working Mom’s Guide to Rhythms and Routines

Elyse Dub
July 6, 2022