New Year – New Approach

Ahhh, New Years. The season for resolutions. Some strive to eat better, exercise more. For others, the goal may be to finally finish that online course or to learn a new skill. In any case, it’s the time to embrace the opportunity for a fresh start in specific arenas in your life – whether personally or professionally (or both).

Admittedly, I hesitated to use the word resolution – which, to me, has carried a negative connotation.  It brings back memories of finally entering an overcrowded gym after grabbing the last parking spot available in the lot, eager to log in a good sweat session– only to not be able to use any of the exercise equipment. And knowing I’d probably never see these machine hogs again after a month or so.

Technically, however, the word resolution is indeed apropos. According to dictionary.com, the term resolution means a resolve; a decision or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something.

As I reflect on the past few months, I’ve decided to make this one of my resolutions: to keep an open mind and try new approaches if what I’m currently doing isn’t effective. In my professional life, that means implementing new methods of seeking opportunities.

When I first started the job search process, I did what most everyone else does or had done: scouring the online job boards. And yes, there is something comforting and enticing about lounging around in PJs, sipping on coffee, and basking in the comforts of home. However, one report from ABC News showed that up to 80% of jobs are found through networking. So, although it’s tempting to opt for wearing sweat pants instead of a business suit on a cold, winter day – even for us extroverts – nothing in the digital world can measure up to good ol’ fashioned face-to-face interaction.

And, if that’s not enough to convince fellow job-seekers to leave the house, consider this: an estimated 80% of available jobs today don’t even get advertised. Ouch! Here’s an article from Forbes regarding 6 Ways to Crack the ‘Hidden’ Job Market.

As I reflect on my own career history, most of the jobs I’ve held had been a result of networking. So, this all makes perfect sense to me. And, as I also reflect on my own professional journey, I’m recommitting myself to sharing any helpful information and words of encouragement – especially to those who are in career transition and are trying to navigate through the unknown corporate world waters.

Here’s to a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2016!

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Sign of the Times

A friend of mine mentioned that her daughter’s school is celebrating “Back to the Future” day. She went on to explain that today – October 21, 2015 – is the date that Marty McFly traveled to in “Back to the Future II”. Naturally, we reminisced on the movie and discussed what predictions actually came true, which ones were feasible, and which ones were absolutely absurd. Can you imagine the logistical nightmare if we had flying cars? Yikes! That would make Dallas traffic at its worst feel as seamless as breathing.

Although I haven’t seen this movie in a very long time, this conversation did remind me of a little piece that I wrote after watching “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” – a movie released two years prior to BTTF2.

And yes – I do realize that this post really doesn’t have much to do with career transition. Nonetheless, I do find it interesting how much technology has changed the way our society functions in general. Of course, this also includes how we search for and apply for jobs.

That said…here you go. Enjoy #TBT – a day early.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles – How That Movie Would Look Today

Recently, I watched the 1987 movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” with my boys (ages 10 and 6). And, although some of the adult humor flew above their heads, they seemed to enjoy it. Throughout the movie, I found myself amused by how much traveling – and the way our society functions in general – has changed.

Let’s say that, hypothetically, some movie producer is hell bent on releasing a 30-year anniversary edition of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”, here’s how it would need to be re-written to fit into today’s complex digital world:

  1. Neal Page would have no need to race Kevin Bacon’s character to the available cab; he’d just pull up Uber on his smartphone and order up his own personal driver.
  2. On the way to the airport (or perhaps even as he’s waiting for the meeting to end), he’d receive a call from the airline, notifying him of flight delays. If he was still at the office, he’d probably decide to stay and join his friend at happy hour until further notice. Then, he’d call his wife and give her a heads-up on the flight delay.
  3. Assuming he took a chance and decided to head to the airport – in hopes that his flight will take off on time or shortly thereafter – he’d immediately scan the digital kiosk for instant flight updates. No need to wait for an airport staffer to post the “Delayed” sign.
  4. Everyone on the aircraft looked like they were sitting in first class. I ain’t gonna lie – I salivated a little at the thought of having that much room to stretch out in coach. Today, we’re all packed in like one big happy sardine family.
  5. Once the plane diverted to Wichita Falls, Neal could quickly look up a place to stay on his smartphone, instead of standing in line, waiting to make a call from the payphone. In fact, with the right app, he could probably book a room in a few quick swipes.
  6. The vibrating bed at the Wichita Falls motel had me in stitches! As far as I’m concerned, the only coin-operated vibrating beds exist in 80s movies. I’ve never, ever seen one.
  7. I find it hard to believe that the train operator would make its passengers walk a mile and a half to the highway. But, maybe that’s a result of living in a cushy, microwave, app-for-absolutely-everything world.
  8. Neal shouldn’t need to walk all the way across the tarmac to the rental car area in the St. Louis airport, once he noticed his car missing. First of all, the rental car lot is typically situated in very close proximity to the office. A rental car employee would’ve been available in the parking lot to assist him. And, they would’ve been able to provide him with another vehicle right away. But I found the banter between Neal and the concierge – and the series of F-bombs – quite amusing (albeit feeling a bit embarrassed that I allowed my boys to watch that scene as well). Oops!
  9. Obviously, when their car caught on fire, Neal – or Del (even though he’s homeless and essentially broke) – would’ve called roadside assistance to pick them up.
  10. Neal’s wife and kids, theoretically, shouldn’t have been worried and wondering when – and if – he’d be home. Assuming he’s a devoted husband and father – or at least a decent human being – he would’ve kept them apprised of his whereabouts via his smartphone.

Ahhhh….sign of the times.

Hook, Line & Sinker: Wading Through the Vast Waters of Webinars

Anyone who’s attended a conference, seminar, webinar, or any other informational meeting – either virtually or in the flesh – can attest to the old (albeit apropos) idiom, You don’t get something for nothing.

I have an innate hunger for knowledge. And early in my career, I’ve admittedly been excited to attend special presentations with high hopes that I’ll leave with lots of valuable intel – only to feel duped and resentful that – not only did I leave empty-handed, but the time I spent listening to an infomercial will never be redeemed. Sort of reminds me of that scene in the movie “A Christmas Story” when Ralphie finally hears Little Orphan Annie’s much-anticipated members-only “secret code”.

In today’s “microwave” society with jammed-packed schedules, increased competition, and expectations to perform and produce at an all-time high– feeling precious time slipping through your fingers feels yucky. Feeling money slip through those fingers for an overpromised/under-delivered service feels even worse – especially when it’s your money.

Particularly during the past six months, I’ve received (on nearly a daily basis) numerous invitations to webinars, promising “valuable insight” into various marketing, career search, and general business techniques to help land that dream job, stand above the crowd, gain more revenue, and conquer the world. As time permits, I occasionally tune into these webinars, just to gather whatever free info I can extract. Afterwards – as always – comes the pitch for exclusive information and services that’ll help reach your business goals. And, of course, these are limited-time offers so you better act fast! Special add-ons – such as eBooks and extra expert consultations – are packaged in to add even more value. And then you hear their asking price, which is always way lower than their regular fees.

Most of the time, I simply refuse the bait and hang up. On very special occasions, I’ll conjure up an internal feud with a dialogue that resembles this:

“Well, what if this really does work? Sometimes ya gotta take risks.”

“That’s such a waste of money – money you shouldn’t be spending.”

“Yeah, but I could consider this to be an investment in my career.”

“Ummm…don’t you think you can get this expert advice cheaper somewhere  else? Or maybe free? There’s a world of info available on the World Wide Web if you look hard enough….”

“But what if I can’t find it anywhere else?”

I will admit – some of these “business experts” who are selling their services do make a strong case for themselves. And, with any significant financial commitment, I do search for reviews prior to taking the bait. I’ve sought out reviews for a few of these services – only to come up virtually empty-handed. Not sure why.

Then, out of curiosity, I posted the following question on some of my LinkedIn groups:

I’ve been receiving quite a few emails with invitations to webinars on various marketing topics. Of course, I’m fully aware that there’s an ulterior motive for offering free webinars (i.e., promoting services, etc.). That said – I’m wondering if anyone has decided to engage any services promoted at the end of a particular webinar. If so – what was it? Did you find any value? Or, did you find it to be a scam to make a quick buck, particularly from job seekers?

I only received a couple of responses so far. Here’s one of them:

Not recently, but what I found is: If the content (free) during the webinar is outstanding, the product usually is. If their webinar is pretty general and vague, (because they’re saving the goods for their product they say) then it’s a red flag.

Hmmmm….makes sense to me.

Your Turn

What do you think? If you’ve received an invitation to a webinar discussing a product or service, hosted by a company that provides that particular product or service – have you ever taken that next step and hired them? If so, what was/were the deciding factors? And, did you find value in what you received?

When You Missed the Memo

The other night, I had a very long and disturbing dream. I was living in a modest, urban apartment, sleeping peacefully. Suddenly, I was jarred awake by a loud crash. Moments later, I heard a fist pounding on my door. A man wearing a hard hat and holding a clipboard informed me the building will be demolished in less than 24 hours and that I needed to pack up and evacuate immediately.

WHAT?!?

In a half heart-wrenching panic/half utter incredulity, I took a quick inventory of what needed packing. To my relief, I didn’t notice too many belongings.

I can work fast and get this done today. But, why in the heck did no one tell me about this demolition? And where I am going to live?

Then, my phone beeped, reminding me of a flight for a business trip scheduled to depart in 2 hours. My world felt like it was crashing down all around me – literally! Somehow, I pulled myself together and called just in time to re-book the flight. As I was hastily packing up my things, I grew angrier at each passing minute. I saw no signage anywhere about the demolition plans. Building management hadn’t said a peep. How could I possibly miss something this important? A little while later, I found a 4-month-old newspaper. Lo and behold – an article about the city’s plans to demolish my place of residence and replace with an office complex splashed across the front page.

This anecdote was obviously a dream. Admittedly, though, one of my greatest fears is missing important deadlines. I hate that sinking feeling when – on a rare occasion – I miss an appointment because I entered the wrong day or time in my calendar. But it happens. We’re busy. Some of us are doing the jobs of multiple people – either at home, in the office, or both. And, life’s occasional curveballs whizzing by our heads leaves us little, if any, margins for error.

Today, I missed a coaching call because I entered the time in my calendar as Central Time instead of Eastern Time. This pained me, as I had been looking forward to this call and rearranged my morning activities around it. Thankfully, I’ve been able to reschedule. Yet, I had no one to blame but myself for the time zone oversight.

Chances are, you’ve been – or will be at some point – on both the offensive and defensive end with missed deadlines or appointments.

The following may come off as a bit obvious, but – if you’re on the offense:

  • Own Up To It –ASAP. It never ceases to amaze me how many people simply don’t acknowledge their faux pas. Keep in mind that the person(s) with whom you were to meet are likely just as busy as you, and they’ll never be able to reclaim those minutes they waited in your absence.
  • Apologize, and Provide a Brief Explanation. Had to stay home with a sick child and missed a deadline? Got a flat tire on the way to your meeting? Things happen. Just don’t embellish too much on the details. You’ll appear as though you’re lying. At the very least, you’ll probably annoy the other party. That is, unless you can tell a story unusual and engaging enough to tell onstage at Open Mic Night.
  • Go the Extra Distance to Remedy the Problem. Need to reschedule a missed appointment or finish up an overdue project with an overflowing schedule? Re-prioritize and rearrange. Chances are, there’s something on your agenda that can wait.
  • Be Kind to Yourself – But Don’t Make This a Habit, Either! No good will come from beating yourself up over a missed deadline or appointment. You’re human. Just make a pact with yourself to hold on to the reins of your schedule a little tighter.

The job market is competitive enough. You don’t want to establish yourself as unreliable. That’s the professional kiss of death.

And, if you’re on the receiving end…

  • Show Some Grace and Don’t Judge – especially if this is the first “offense”. He or she may be facing some extra challenges at home. Keep in mind you will likely drop the ball at some point. And when that day comes, you’ll want to be shown some flexibility and understanding.
  • Fool-Proof the Deadline/Appointment. Send brief reminder emails and texts. And, if you correspond with those in other time zones, PLEASE accentuate the time zone for which you’re scheduling the meeting or deadline. If possible, translate the meeting time or deadline to the recipient’s time zone in your reminder messages. With the exception of those who frequently correspond with others across the country – or across the world – we’re typically hard-wired to default to the time zone in which we live.

Most people are understanding and are likely to appreciate honesty and initiative when you’ve “missed the memo”. Reciprocally, be mindful of others’ valuable time. Be kind to yourself and one another. It’ll prove to be more beneficial than you realize.

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8 Suggestions on What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do (Career-Wise)

Imagine this: You’ve been a stay-at-home mom for years, with memories of the workplace being distant ones at best. In lieu of making your mark in the professional world, you’ve been running the show within the confines of your place of residence. Supporting your husband as he focuses on his lucrative career. Ensuring that your children’s basic needs are met. Paying all the bills. Keeping the house tidy (or at least preventing it from becoming a health hazard). Assisting with homework.

Planning and coordinating meals, doctor and dentist appointments, school obligations, holidays and other special occasions, family activities, play dates, birthday parties, and the children’s extracurricular activities. Not to mention the endless job of being the primary caregiver – tending to boo-boos, coaching your children in developing acceptable social manners, and implementing appropriate consequences for poor behavior. In your own personal enterprise, you’ve been the CEO, nurse, psychologist, teacher, chauffeur, accountant, housekeeper, chef, and event coordinator. Essentially, this has been your job for 18 hours a day/7 days a week/year-round, UNTIL…

…you find yourself divorced and needing to work outside the home, or

…your husband loses his job, and the family needs the extra income to survive, or

….somehow it’s necessary for you to return to the workplace.

But how? Now what?

Up until this point, you’ve worn so many proverbial hats, clocking in hours that make a corporate workaholic look as productive as a dog on a summer afternoon in Texas. But, unfortunately, not one hour is transferable in the professional world.

That college diploma is hanging out with the resume you’ve written in your B.C. (Before Children) years, collecting dust somewhere in the back of your closet.

You yearn for a meaningful career – not just a job that pays the bills. Yet, you’re not sure if you even want to return to the exact same occupation/industry path you once traveled. Volunteering to gain work experience sounds wonderful and noble, but you need to earn an income NOW.

Bad news: to drag out the old, tired cliché, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Good news: there are more resources in your own backyard and/or at your fingertips – than you may realize. And, you may not necessarily need to start from ground zero.

If you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree, you’re already further ahead than you may know. The difference between a degree holder’s earnings and those of a high school-only worker are sizeable over a lifetime. According to the U.S. Government Info Web site, “… a high school graduate can expect, on average, to earn $1.2 million; those with a bachelor’s degree $2.1 million; and people with a master’s degree $2.5 million.” (Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnebersole/2012/08/08/why-a-college-degree/)

You may be thinking, OK, that’s great, but my head hurts from thinking about where to begin and I still have no clue where to begin!

Just like starting an exercise program – or any other major project, getting started is key. And, you need to start somewhere. Below are 8 suggestions:

1. Be Kind to Yourself. I’ve had to tell a few people who are (or were) in this journey – myself included. Entire books have been written on this very subject.

book_cover_what_should_i_do_frankel What Should I Do With My Life book

And, Economist Neil Howe estimates that only 5 percent of people find a good career match on the first try (Source: brazencareerist.com).

Bad news: You won’t find a clear, definitive guidance in any one single source. You’ll need to make a commitment to chip away at the layers of uncertainty to find your ideal career path. However, if you do find one single resource that provides you with that revelation, please share with the rest of us!

Good news: You’re not alone! And, in research conducted nationwide in 2005 among 2,443 college-educated women of all ages, the Center for Work-Life Policy (CWP) found that 74 percent of women who want to go back to work do manage it (Source: http://www.more.com/reinvention-money/careers/back-business-stay-home-moms-return-workforce).

2. Take a Test. You may have heard of the book, What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles that’s been in print since 1970. Today, there’s no shortage of quizzes, tests, and other tools that provide insight into a career path that’s right for you. Here’s a website with a list of tests to consider: http://www.jobhuntersbible.com/for-career-changers/view/figuring-out-a-career-through-taking-tests

3. Do Your Research. Surf through popular job boards, such as monster.com, www.careerbuilder.com and www.linkedin.com. Print out some job postings with your desired job title and/or industr(ies). DO NOT worry at this point whether or not you may be qualified at this time. First, determine whether or not the scope of work sounds like something you truly would be happy doing (at least most of the time) for 40 hours a week. Next, highlight those requirements for which you lack experience.

4. Invest in Continuing Education. Does the job require some working knowledge of a particular software program or an industry best practice? Consider taking a course at your local community college. Or, “navigate the world of online education through 75,000 student reviews” at coursetalk.com to determine which course(s) would be best for you. Sure, it’s money out of your pocket now. But, you’ll more than likely earn that payment back in due time.

5. Talk It Out. Ask those who know you best – on both a professional and personal level – what they believe are your greatest strengths. If time and budget permits, seek some guidance and advice from a certified career coach. Check out the National Career Development Association or other organizations that certify career professionals to locate a qualified career coach. And, on the subject of talking it out…

6. Network. Chances are, you’ll get your big break through someone that you know. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of all jobs are found through networking. I’ll discuss this in more detail in my next post, so stay tuned…

7. Lower Your Expectations in Terms of Income – at least for the short term. Although there’s no question you’ve sacrificed A LOT for your family, the harsh reality is – that doesn’t translate into dollars and cents needed to pay the bills. And finally…

8. Ask Yourself, “What Motivates You?” Of course, we all need to make money. However, this shouldn’t be your sole driving force. Based on research involving 15,000 individuals and 115 correlation coefficients, the results indicate that the association between salary and job satisfaction is very weak. The reported correlation (r = .14) indicates that there is less than 2% overlap between pay and job satisfaction levels. Furthermore, the correlation between pay and pay satisfaction was only marginally higher (r = .22 or 4.8% overlap), indicating that people’s satisfaction with their salary is mostly independent of their actual salary (Source: https://hbr.org/2013/04/does-money-really-affect-motiv).

Bottom line: if you’re spending at least half – or more – of your waking hours earning a paycheck, you may as well be engaged in enjoyable work. Or at least at a job that doesn’t give you that gloom-and-doom feeling every time you hear your alarm clock buzz. Trust me.

YOUR TURN

For those of you who are (or were) in complete career overhaul, what resource(s) did you find the most helpful?

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If You Want to Get Back Into the Game, You Gotta Learn the Rules…

…and most likely, the rules have changed.

One of the most humbling lessons I’ve learned in my most recent job search is this: I’m outdated. Yep, somehow the past ten years have melded together into one indistinguishable color, no matter how hard I try to keep them separated in my head – sort of like my boys’ Playdoh stash. A decade later – which feels like 10 years and 10 days all at once – I’m ready to dive headfirst into the unknown waters of the full-time working world. And of course I remember how to swim. But, look at everyone else in the pool gliding flawlessly, showing off these new strokes! Am I going to look like an idiot, flailing my arms in an effort to keep my head above water? Can I learn those new strokes, so I can move with the flow of the current?

The short answer is: yes. Of course I can! But, where do I even begin?

For me, the “new strokes” I needed to learn are in the social media arena. Of course, I have a Facebook and a LinkedIn account. Aside from posting my boys’ school photos, I hadn’t dabbled much in the social media world, let alone utilize it for business purposes. Until recently, I thought:

  • Only celebrities and other self-absorbed people used Twitter to “twitter” what they ate for lunch;
  • Only teenagers used YouTube to post videos of pranking their friends; and
  • Only crafty stay-at-home moms (which I’m NOT) used Pinterest to post Martha Stewart-like projects with details that make my head spin.

And what the hell is Reddit and Snapchat?

I’m sure that’s just scratching the surface of what’s out there. It seems like the amount of social media websites and apps are multiplying faster than Catholic rats.

So, how does a perfectly capable and seasoned professional – who’s sat on the bench for a while – get back into the game and keep up?

Here are just a few avenues to consider:

1. Setting up Informational Interviews First and foremost, you need to determine your end goal. Do you wish to return to the same field you were in – prior to your professional “hiatus” – but feel as if may not be attainable? Try setting up a meeting – preferably with a hiring manager in that particular field – and ask him or her about the qualifications of their ideal candidate for the particular position in which you are interested. The hiring manager may also be able to provide some insight into any continuing education courses you could take to bring yourself up to speed. Please note: you should reiterate your intentions for this meeting – it is NOT to solicit for a job; it’s merely to gather information and advice. Most people innately like to help others. Just make it clear that you have no other ulterior motives. If you make a good impression – and there happens to be an opening in this hiring manager’s department – BONUS! But go in with no other agenda, aside from heeding advice.

2. Volunteering Regardless of your occupation, chances are there’s a not-for-profit organization that would gladly accept your specific skill sets and talents. This will also give you an opportunity to hone in on some skills – and work some of those “muscles” that haven’t been flexed in a while. Keep in mind that volunteer work counts as work experience, too. Not to mention you’d get to expand your network and contribute to a worthy cause. Here are a couple of articles that discuss this in further detail: http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2012/04/04/how-volunteering-can-help-you-get-a-job

VolunteerMatch posts volunteer opportunities suiting various causes and professional backgrounds. www.volunteermatch.org

3. Joining an Organization That Caters to Your Particular Profession Recently, I joined the American Marketing Association. This allowed me to connect with other employed marketing professionals in the area – those who have been living and breathing the marketing world air and can possibly offer advice and/or a job lead. AMA also provides luncheons with guest speakers presenting various topics applicable to today’s marketers, as well as other free and discounted continuing education resources, webinars and seminars.

Not in Marketing? That’s OK. Bottom line – I’m certain other professional organizations offer a similar format. And yes, these organizations most likely involve a membership fee to access all of their resources. However – assuming you make a commitment to actually utilize these resources – I’m certain you’ll find it to be well worth the investment. Just like a gym membership – you actually have to go and sweat a little to see results.

This site offers a comprehensive list of professional organizations from just about every type of (legal) career and industry under the sun: http://www.weddles.com/associations/

Yeah, I know. Reigniting a dormant career can sometimes feel like stepping up to the starting line of a marathon, thinking: “I need to run how far?!? I know I’ve done this before, but I haven’t ran in so long!” It’s all about finding the courage to take that first step across the starting line. And in order to go the proverbial distance – I’ve found that breaking down the entire excursion into smaller, more manageable units makes it feel much more attainable. Start small if need be. Take those first baby steps. You’ll find the momentum to get there. Just make sure you’re consistently moving in the right direction.

Your Turn

Are you interested re-igniting a career that’s been dormant for a while? Or, have you had success in returning to the workforce? If so, what avenues have you found to be helpful?

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Dear Virtual Human Resources Recruiter:

Dear Virtual Human Resources Recruiter:

Wow. You’re a tough nut to crack. Do you know that? Recently, it occurred to me that the last time I had to actively look for work, all I needed was a pen and the most recent edition of the Chicago Tribune‘s Classified section. I’d type up a cover letter and resume, print it on fancy paper stock with an envelope to match, and then send it directly to the hiring manager or the human resources department. Regardless of the recipient, I innately knew that it would fall in the hands of a living, breathing HUMAN BEING.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve sincerely enjoyed work. I sold lemonade, handmade drawings, and rocks from my driveway. I babysat nearly every potty-trained child in my neighborhood. I sold fast-food and bussed tables (which, in and of itself was quite a humbling experience). Throughout college, I waited tables to cover my living expenses while taking a full load of courses in order to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in four years. I’ve never been afraid of hard work. And, I did whatever it took to get the job done – coming in the office on weekends, working extra from home, staying up late. I’d be exhausted, overworked, and underpaid. But, I never missed a deadline. Ever.

But, of course you wouldn’t know that. How could you?

The day I made that fateful decision to stay at home – soon after my son was born almost a decade ago – I knew that returning to the workforce full-time would be an uphill battle. Meanwhile, I embarked on a role in which I had absolutely no experience, no training, and no “support staff”. The learning curve was steeper than the Cliffs of Moher. And, to top it all off, I suffered from post-partum depression (yes, anyone who’s had it can vouch that it is a real, debilitating condition). Thankfully, I did get help and felt better after a few weeks. But, for those first few months of being a bona fide SAHM, I heard it. The question guaranteed to make every exhausted, overwhelmed stay-at-home parent cringe. “So…what did you do all day?”

In the past, I had been blessed with job opportunities that found me – instead of vice versa. Now, I feel like this digital world is doing its best to wad up each and every one of us – along with all of our qualifications and achievements – and stuff us into convenient little air-tight packages stamped with customized SEO keywords. And we’re suffocating in the process.

Imagine this, Virtual HR: You come across a candidate who appears perfect online. You notify a human to schedule an interview and block off an hour or more of the hiring manager’s time to meet this person. But, as it turns out, this candidate really isn’t qualified. Or worse. Everyone who’s involved in the hiring process won’t ever get that time back. And, as they say, time is money.

Now imagine carelessly passing over the perfect candidate – the one who could really take your company to a new level – just because he or she included the words “lead” instead of “managed” or “composed” instead of “wrote”.

It happens all the time.

At the end of the day, the livelihood of your business isn’t driven by a set of black-and-white algorithms. It’s living, breathing humans who make it happen.

So, which potential star employees are you rejecting because you’ve got your digital blinders on?

Think about it.

Sincerely,

Frustrated Job Seeker

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What’s Your Dream Job?

“What is your dream job?”

That’s what a friend of mine asked me recently after seeing my Facebook post asking for advice on using the DART railroad system to commute to downtown Dallas – should I land a job there.

Had he asked me that question even 6 months ago, I would’ve had no idea how to answer. Now, I know that my immediate answer. My DREAM job – without boundaries or restrictions – is to be a travel writer. However, since I’ve got two boys who depend on me day in and day out, I know that’s not feasible (at least for now). Therefore, I interpreted the question as:

“What are you made to do?”

Without much hesitation, I replied, “I want to get back into marketing communications – which is what I really enjoyed most about the previous positions I held. Creating and executing marketing and promotional campaigns, doing PR work and writing and managing the production of marketing materials. I enjoy business development too – but it would have to be the right gig for me to take on sales.”

“Wow! You really know what you want. I am constantly asking people about their dream job, and a lot of people don’t know.”

Frankly, that made me feel good. I have to admit, though – clearing that hurdle was no small feat. Figuring out what you want to do professionally – and actually make a viable living doing it – has been an issue that’s probably existed for generations.

And, it’s been my reality, too.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women comprised 47% of the total U.S. workforce in 2010 – with projections to account for 51% of the increase in total labor force growth between 2008 and 2018. However, I can imagine nearly 100% of adult women – at least at some point in their lives- wrestled with the idea of:
a.) what career path to choose;
b.) whether or not to start a family – and when; and
c.) whether or not to cultivate their chosen career and raise a family – or both. And how?

Sure, I’m sure there are a few lucky gals who have had unfailing certainty of their destined profession before they could even legally work. And, there are women who have always assumed they would take on a more traditional role as homemaker and full-time primary caregiver in a one-income household. And, of course there are women who’ve never experienced even an inkling of an itch to reproduce.

And, I think it’s all good. It’s indeed a personal choice, subject to each individual’s preferences and/or circumstances.

Personally, figuring out how to strike a healthy balance between motherhood and a fulfilling, satisfying career has been a real struggle for me. And, I know there are others out who share similar sentiments.

Life circumstances have found me in this transition period from essentially being a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) since August 2005 to a full time employee (FTE). And let me tell ‘ya – it has been a real eye-opener. The job seeker’s playing field looks entirely different than a decade ago. It’s forced me to reflect on what I’ve accomplished professionally – in what feels like a lifetime ago. Memories flooded in of desperately seeking what I’m called to do all throughout my 20s. Feeling like I’ve been blindfolded and dropped in the middle of a dark, dense forest disguised as the corporate world with no compass, no map, and no guide – only with this single piece of advice I’ve ever received:

When mentioning my intentions of applying to the College of Education and pursuing a career as a high school English teacher: “Don’t go into education. You should go into business. Tall women are successful at business.”

Really? No kidding.

Remembering how much I enjoyed selling lemonade, hand-drawn pictures, rocks from my driveway, and other random things as a kid – I decided to give marketing a try. Since college graduation, I considered a career as a social worker, a family and marriage counselor, an ESL teacher, and a reading specialist. All the while, I felt like a hamster on a treadmill – working hard and getting nowhere.

Nearly two decades after that fateful decision as a college student, I finally, finally realized that the marketing arena is where I need to be. More about that in future posts…

So, What’s The Point? Why This Blog?

Based on various conversations I’ve had over the past few years with friends and acquaintances – mostly women, but a few men as well – I know I’m not alone in this journey to find professional satisfaction. Transitioning back into the workforce feels a bit like starting over. Except, now I also have little ones that depend on me.

I’m no expert by any means. But, with a love for writing and a heart for helping others, I figured I could combine those two and share what I’m learning in my journey from essentially being a SAHM to a FTE. My struggles and my successes. The good, the bad, and the WTF moments.

And, if I know all the blood, sweat and rejection letters I’ve experienced in this job seeking process has helped at least one person, I’ll be happy.

Share Your Thoughts!
When have you determined your chosen profession? If you are currently transitioning back into the workplace from a hiatus as a stay-at-home caregiver, are you planning to continue down that same career path?

What is your dream job?