I mentioned in a post last week that we’d done our application for DorkySon’s reception place. With that task out of the way, I’ve had to turn my attention to the other big thing that I knew this year would bring.
As the start of school will mean that DorkySon will be in someone else’s care for five full days a week, rather than just the three mornings that he currently spends in nursery, the time has come for me to find some kind of gainful employment.
There is a part of me that wishes that weren’t the case. A small part of me would like things to be a stay-at-home mum forever. In return for passing a duster over nearby surfaces every so often, and doing daily battle with the Waitrose grannies for the biggest potatoes and the shiniest apples, I have mainly been able to spend the last three-and-a-bit years eating biscuits, taking naps and blogging in the comfort of my own home.
I don’t doubt for a minute that it’s going to be an incredibly challenging transition; that we will have to re-divide the allocation of household chores, that I will have to re-learn how to dress for the office, and that I will miss my little boy like crazy every single minute that I’m not with him.
But the uniforms and school trips won’t pay for themselves. And, honestly, there is also a part of me that is actually quite excited at the prospect of working again. I actually like to be challenged; to put effort into something and achieve results, and to be rewarded for that with a paycheque at the end of every month.
There’s only one
small bloody enormous problem.
I don’t really know what I’m good at anymore.
That’s not strictly true. I know that I’m good at being a mum – but I only want to be DorkySon’s mum. The thought of entering a profession like teaching and having to wipe the noses and bums of other people’s children fills me with utter horror.
When I was a recent graduate, with plenty of summer jobs, voluntary work, internships and the like under my belt, I found it quite easy to ‘sell’ myself. I knew what my areas of expertise were, and what skills I could bring to a workplace. But when it has been several years since you’ve done anything to demonstrate those skills, and the accepted wisdom in your area of expertise has changed beyond recognition, it is daunting to consider how you get a foot back in the door.
Thinking that the person who spends the most time with me might offer some insight, I asked DorkySon what jobs he thought I’d be good at.
“Well…” he pondered. “You’re good at cooking. And you’re definitely good at doing laundry. But you’re best at putting yellow gloves on and cleaning toilets.”
That wasn’t quite what I had in mind.
Like everything else, I know that the way to approach this is to break it up into achievable tasks. So I’ve done two things this week. I’ve made a start on updating my CV, and I’ve joined LinkedIn.
I do have vague ideas. Ten years ago I wanted to be a journalist, but I’m not convinced that it’s compatible with family life. When I was single and child-free I was happy to work weekends and evenings and unpredictable hours, but these days being a mum and a wife will always come first. So flexibility is key.
I’d like to do something in communications. Something that involves writing. Maybe something for a charity… Not fundraising or events. Maybe campaigning. That’s about as much as I can say right now.
It’s not much, but it’s a start.
Steps three and four will come next week. I need to finalise the CV and work it into a format that is appropriate for 2013 (last time I applied for a job was in 2006). And I need to spend a morning signing up for job alerts on every relevant website. Guardian Jobs. Charity Jobs. Goodmoves. Environment Job.
(Which ones am I missing…?)
If you’d like to offer me a job, please feel free to drop me an email. Otherwise, all hints, tips, and good luck wishes are very welcome. I will let you know how it goes.
Good Luck with the hunt, I am in a very similar position and looking to do similar things communications and writing – let’s keep in touch! 😉
Someone has recommended an org called Women Like Us to me – maybe worth you checking out too? Xx
Good luck. Don’t be daunted. You are a wonderful writer and clearly a thoughtful, intelligent woman who is passionate about good things. The most difficult part is finding something flexible and I can’t wait to see what career path you decide to choose.
You’re so kind, thank you. What a lovely comment xx
What Damson Lane said! I’m having a sort of similar thing at the moment going on. Someone interviewed me and asked me what I’d like to be doing in a years time and what my goals were for this year. My reply was that I’ll muddle along as I am and if something ‘comes up it comes up’, I’d love something to naturally appear for me.
Then I sat down and realised that that sort of thing doesn’t just happen does it? We have to goals and ambitions and seek these things out I suspect and at that point I put up my dressing gown hood and shrugged off thinking about what the future may hold – I’m not cut out for the ‘making things happen’ in my life.
I too just don’t know what I am actually good at. I’m not one of life’s great writers, I can take a reasonably ok photo but I’m not a photographer… I just can’t see a clear strength to hone in on.
But then I suspect it’s the same for you, you aren’t sure what you are good at anymore but ask any of us and we can tell you straight away!
Fantastic writer, great communicator, superb photographer, funny lady, great motivator…. add those all to your CV x
Love you. True fact. x
Oh good luck lovely lady – Link-ed in is definitely the best for networking re. career. I’m kind of in a similar boat (well maybe in a years time), and like you I am doubting and lack confidence in my skills. I am trained in a ‘trade’ but I feel nervous about that too. But one thing I can say is that you are fabulous writer and very, very clear communicator, and I have no doubt you will find something in this field. X.
Come and fine me on LinkedIn! I need to spend some time finding my way around it, haven’t done much so far.
This is so much a process, isn’t it? This post was really just to test the water, find out what’s out there, and get all you lovely folk to send me links, advice and the likes! If someone offered me my dream job tomorrow I wouldn’t be in a position to say yes to it!
Good luck to you with it all too x
Sign up to Ghorkana then focus on getting some work experience or a placement within the area you may be interested in, to see if it’s for you. You have lots of skills, a real talent with communicating with people (via the written word and verbally) and a huge amount of passion for the things you believe in. Get that across on you CV and LinkedIn profile and make yourself sparkle. Ask Jane (NorthernMum) if she has any tips as CV’s are her area of expertise! And then accept you may have to do a placement or two for free, just to see what the environment you want to work in is like now. It’s an exciting time and I have no doubt you’ll be snapped up!
Thanks for all that lovely. I haven’t even heard of Gorkana, so that’s one to check out. My CV is sitting with Jane as we speak 🙂 xx
I’ll b very surprised if Save the Children don’t offer your the perfect place. Best of British XX
I think one Dorky at Save is probably enough 😉 xx
Sit down and set yourself 15 minutes to say nice things about what you are good at – shut up the internal negative voice and focus on what you ARE good at, writing, communicating, being passionate about causes and use those to start you thinking about what you would do if there were no barriers, no problems and no doubts and then get out there and try and find steps to get you to that goal because you CAN do it
Also have a very pretty CV format if you need one and happy to read over / debate options if that would help
Ooh, may well take you up on that CV template offer. They seem to have changed beyond recognition! Thanks for all those v helpful thoughts x
I can completely understand your feelings about returning to work, the thought of it feels me with similar feelings of panic and I know with each passing year I will be less sure of the skills I have to offer in the workplace. I hope you find a job you enjoy, I think you’ll be super at whatever you decide to do, because you are, well, super.
And you are LOVELY! Thank you 🙂 xx
I have every confidence that someone will snap you up. You’ve got so much talent and passion for what you do. Linked In is great. Make your CV as strong as you can – and point people in the direction of this blog to see what you can do.
I’m swithering over what to do this year too, as Blake starts school in August. I need to have a firm plan by the end of this year. Journalism is my trade – but there are so many writers/bloggers/freelancers out there I’m not sure there’s steady work anywhere. So I’m looking at communications jobs in Scotland.
But I’m also a great believer in the Scots phrase “what’s for you won’t go by you”. A lot of opportunities have come to me when I’ve put the word out there and remained positive.
So I’m sure doors will open for you if you let all of your contacts know you’re in the market for a job.
Thanks lovely. Look forward to sharing this journey with you because it does sound like we are in a similar position (except that you have a lot more experience under your belt than I do). Freelancing would be lovely – something that you could really do wherever in the world you were – but as you say, there already seem to be so many people doing it, that I’m not confident I stand out enough to really make a success of it.
Also, HA! That’s where I saw the ‘what’s for you…’ expression this week! I need to go and credit you in a post I’ve just written! xx
Hello lovely, I haven’t even seen your cv and I can already list 17 of your skills! I understand you must be feeling a bit nervous about it, it is a big step into a scary world. Or it seems that way anyway. But, I’m working full time now and it’s not so bad. I do miss Zachy (so much) but it is nice to have some time to be me again, to talk to adults, be relied upon. There are pros and cons of course, but payday helps 🙂 Good luck lovely, will let you know if I think of any way I can help xx
You are very kind, thanks so much (both for the ego boost and the reassurance!) xx
I completely agree with the comments above – you have a huge amount going for you, and I am sure that there is a perfect role out there for you.
When I left work to become a SAHM when No2 was a toddler, a lovely colleague gave me a copy of this book as a parting gift http://www.amazon.co.uk/Back-The-Career-Track-Stay-at-Home/dp/0446578207 – it is very American, but there is plenty of inspiration and good tips too.
(caveat – I am in a very similar place and floundering rather, so it’s certainly not a magic bullet!)
Thanks for the recommendation, I will check it out. Seems like there are so many of us in this position. Employers are really missing a trick in not offering more flexible working, because there are so many talented, experienced women there who would be an asset to any organisation. Good luck finding something that suits you xx
How exciting and scary at the same time. I’m sure you will find something perfect for you. I’ve got another couple of years before my younger children start school, but I’m quite excited about what possibilities the extra time may bring. Good luck. xxxx
Thanks so much! Make the most of the next couple of years; I bet they fly by! xx
Ruth, you’re a total superstar with brilliant in-depth knowledge of important issues. Your skills will be needed in the coming decades in the fight against climate change and associated world hunger. Whether you choose to go back into the NGO world or create your own projects, I know whatever you do will be a huge success. And lets do that coffee next week and I will try my best help you with your cv etc. Damien
Good luck with the job hunting =]
Thank you very much!
Best of luck – you are clearly a talented writer & my only advice is working with kids is hard hold onto your vision to do something you really love! Comms/journalism sound like a good plan. maybe you can approach some of the parenting mags as a freelance writer then you can work from home?? Just a thought. Good luck with the search x
Ps I meant being a working parent is hard not working WITH kids – I have no idea on that front!
It’s an idea that had crossed my mind, but there seem to be SO many freelancers already. I need to investigate properly though… That would be the ideal, really. Thanks for all your kind words and thoughts x
Good luck with the job hunting. Anyone who’s read your blog will snap you up. Hey, actuallly, can I employ you to write my blog and bring some quality to it?! 😉 Oh and your reference to Waitrose Grannies made me chuckle. Very telling in my local Waitrose that the ‘good cause token’ boxes most full are the arthritis and dog home charities!
Oh that’s SO true about the charity boxes, haha! Thanks for the kind words – you definitely don’t need any blog help from me though! xx
Good luck. I often wish that I know how I would feel after having children when I was choosing my career path. I would have chosen something much more flexible!
There’s no way of knowing, is there? I suddenly understand why so many parents become teachers, to give them decent holiday time with their kids. If you’re in a job that doesn’t allow flexible working, weekends off, decent holidays etc, it must be an absolute nightmare to juggle.
What can I say that those preceding me haven’t said already? I have only known about your blog for the last month or so, but even with such a brief glimpse I can see your talents shining through. You are passionate about what you believe in, and you articulate those beliefs incredibly well. I can see you working for a charity, hopefully one close to your heart. I would have thought that you could work easily from home in many spheres. You have a can do attitude, so let it shine through! You can, and will do it. If you put yourself out there, they will find you, believe me, I’ve been there. Don’t wait for the vacancy ads contact the charities/companies at the top of your wish list, your writing portfolio and CV will illustrate your talents and they will respect your proactiveness! (Sorry, don’t mean to come across as bossy.) … Buy yourself an outfit in which you feel a million dollars and go for it!
You are very generous with your praise, thank you. I’m not sure that I’m deserving! But I do also appreciate all that advice – there are a lot of good suggestions in there. Lots to think about over the coming year!
Gosh what a lot of amazing advice.
I am in the total same boat – I don’t know what I’m good at – I’m at a point where I find myself a bit embarrassing. The whole job hunt thing has become totally overwhelming.
I’ve been meaning to email/message you but clearly you are way ahead of me and I think I may just drag you back. Good luck with it all. I think you will be fine!
No, please do email. I can guarantee I won’t be ahead of you! I’ve had some brilliant CV advice from Mich which has helped a lot. We should all do a CV swap to compare notes & offer contacts… And definitely get yourself on LinkedIn. It’s just finding the time to focus on it that’s tricky, isn’t it? Xx
I get job alerts from a website called Indeed. Can’t remember how I came across it. Good luck anyway 🙂
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