Much respect

I was raised by a stay-at-home mom. Through our frequent moves, she was a source of stability. I never thought that her work was easier than moms who worked outside the home. Different, not easy.

Over the last month, I have been reminded how hard homemakers work. There’s always a meal to be prepared, a floor to be swept, clothes to be laundered, infernal weeds to be pulled, errands to be run… it is endless. And, I am only looking after adults. 

What happened to the Pinterest wonderland from my last stint as a trailing spouse? Anything I’ve pinned over the last word weeks deals with eradication of weeds and pests. Word to the wise, vinegar weed killer is pretty rank. Ask me about its effectiveness later this week. 

Despite my whining, I am thankful for time to find the right job. I appreciate Mr. McB for putting up with my craziness. Even though it cuts into my Pinterest time, I am fortunate to have a freelance gig.

I am also in awe of homemakers. They’ve got nothing but respect from me.

Not bad, just different

I’ve been at my new job for just over three months now. Thankfully, I feel more settled with each passing day but there are still moments of sheer terror or regret. Anytime that I feel confident that I’ve wrapped my head around the tasks that lay before me, something changes drastically. There have been tears and curses but those are starting to give way to contented sighs and a feeling of accomplishment.

After a little reflection I realize that I’m no longer defined by my job. I hesitate to put that into words because part of me still thinks that means I don’t care about my job. That’s not true. It’s just that now I can talk about who I am and what I like without even referencing the work that I do.

In the past, I’ve viewed my job as an extension of who I am. I’m now starting to see that it doesn’t have to be that way. I can care about my job and work hard without letting my profession dominate every facet of my life. I think this is that whole “work-life balance” that people talk about. It’s a strange feeling and I still sometimes spend the evening checking e-mail and freaking out about the next day, but it happens less than before and I’m starting to like that a lot.

Finally!

I’m happy to report that my search for gainful employment is over. I received a call yesterday and accepted a position at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research. As part of my job, I’ll be promoting the graduate program in automotive research. I’m thrilled for the opportunity and look forward to taking up this new challenge.

This job search really humbled me.

First, I can’t believe the number of folks who said prayers and shared encouragement along the way. Words can’t describe how you helped me get through this. I am blessed. I am also so lucky to have a loving husband who encouraged and comforted me. There were times that he believed in me more than I believed in myself.

Second, it was a great reminder that the Lord does everything in His time. I was first invited to interview for this position the day after we returned from our family trip to Disney. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to enjoy that very special time with my family before I began work again. I have also learned that there was a very good reason for what seemed like a delay in the hiring process. Again, He was taking care of me through the whole thing.

Finally, this process taught me that we are all so much more than what we do for a living and that people shouldn’t be judged by their job title or employment status. It reinforced the importance of kindness and respect in our interactions.

I know the days ahead will be even more humbling. It’s been seven years since I started at a new employer. I’m vowing to cut myself some slack during the adjustment period. There’s a lot to learn and I won’t be perfect. I never am. There will be awkward and frustrating days. It will pass. I will get better.

I might regret this later.

You know those instances where you really want to say something even though you know it’s bound to get you in trouble later? Well, this post is one of those times. I should just keep these thoughts to myself until I’m employed again but I can’t help myself. Honestly, if even of this keeps me from getting a job offer, I probably didn’t belong there in the first place.

Looking for a job is harder and weirder than ever before. The economy stinks so employers have the upper hand and some, not all, of them are enjoying the opportunity to use it. I’ve interviewed with a great company recently and am hopeful that something will work out there but I’ve also had some odd interviews that have turned me off from a job I might otherwise want.

What do I mean? Well, there was the job interview that featured all behavioral questions. “What color would you be if you were a color?” “Name three historical figures you’d like to dine with.” I understand throwing one or two of these out in an interview because you get to see a person think on their feet when faced with a strange situation. But a whole session focusing on these scenarios instead of the skills required to do the job?  I think I handled it well. I didn’t get the job but then I wasn’t the most qualified person and maybe the new job holder decided on a better color than I did.

A few weeks ago, the interviewer I spoke with played with a stress ball during the entire interview. She didn’t make eye contact. She sat in her chair turned toward the wall throwing that little stress ball. At one point I thought about answering a question in Pig Latin. She wasn’t paying any attention to me and I didn’t want the job any more. That whole affair was a colossal waste of my time and money- gas and parking. I wonder if interviewers like this understand how this behavior reflects on their organization.

I’ve had great interviews and some reference calls and background checks recently; unfortunately, that was more than a week ago and I still haven’t heard anything. I’m not sure if they’re still in the decision making stage or if they’ve made a decision and are afraid to let me down. Anyone who makes it to an interview deserves notification, especially when its been promised. If X Co. is afraid to tell me they’ve selected another candidate, how do they handle hard decisions and difficult conversations that are just a part of doing business? If I’m still in the running but the process is taking longer than expected, just send a brief e-mail to that effect. It’s just the considerate thing to do.

Why do so many of you need my social security number before the first interview even takes place? In today’s world, we’re taught to fiercely guard those social security numbers and now I’m required to turn it over without a fight. I understand that everyone runs a background check but let’s meet for the first time before you get my social. I’d also like to know what happens to the paperwork containing my social, DOB and other sensitive information. In the case of X Co., there’s now a formal background check floating around in their offices. How can I be assured they’re handling this information properly?

Obviously, I’m frustrated. Some of it is just being worn down by the search and missing a job that I loved, but more of my ill-temper results from the way that applicants are treated today. We’ll surely see a return to common courtesy when the economy improves and job seekers are in demand. I just wish we didn’t have to wait that long.

Just a little honesty

Looking for a job is a special kind of torture. Job seekers are expected to lay their lives bare and honestly answer questions about their skills, accomplishments, failures, and aspirations. It’s all in the name of finding the right match.

So dear employers, why not do us a kindness and make your job postings candid and thorough? We are looking for the right match too. It’s nice to have clear information when making the decision about whether to apply for something or not. It’s a bit like online dating, don’t describe yourself as a 6’3″ Adonis if you’re really more Napoleon (Bonaparte or Dynamite.) You won’t attract those who will really love and want you by refusing to be honest.

Don’t use meaningless words. Try listing the actual job duties instead of fluffy phrases that will only confuse those reading your ad. Furthermore, your job is likely to be posted on your website so you have all the space in the world, use it to fully and honestly describe the job. If someone from HR tries to rewrite your description by removing the details, argue with them. If you’ve got a sales job, don’t call it a PR position in your ad. If you require someone to work nights and weekends, say so. Is travel involved? Be upfront about the frequency.

If you can’t come up with a thoughtful posting, you are bound to waste time going through resumes that don’t match your needs. It’s also possible that you are turning off those who would have wanted and qualified for the job you’re really trying to fill.

Don’t settle for a bad job description. It wastes time and can also make prospective employees feel badly about themselves if they wind up interviewing for a job that has nothing to do with their skills and experience. I beg of you, just be honest and take time to write a good description; we’ll all benefit in the end.

The search continues…

I did not get the job I interviewed for on Wednesday. I hesitate to write this in a public setting where all sorts of prospective employers can see this but, I felt relieved after getting the call. I didn’t have to say “no” to a perfectly good job or say “yes” to a position that I wasn’t thrilled about.

When we made this move, and when we knew I’d be coming to SC without a job, my husband told me that he wanted me to do whatever made me happy and I’m not sure that this job would have.

I love writing and communications, but I don’t want that to happen in a vacuum. I also enjoy working with the people and being part of the events that I help to market. Interacting with the people who benefit from the organization I’m pitching or who use the services I’m trying to “sell” inspires me to do better work. I crave that contact.

On the positive side, this interview helped me get back in the game. It also made me realize that I will be happiest if I can find a position that allows me to have some contact with those the I am communicating with. I continue the search with a bit more clarity.

 

Getting back out there

As I mentioned before, I am seeking gainful employment. Thanks to my wonderful husband and his great job, I have the luxury of being selective about which jobs I apply for. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that.

Today marked my first interview since settling into South Carolina. Interviewing when you don’t have to work is a completely different ballgame. I certainly worked to showcase myself in the best way possible but I wasn’t desperate to do so. It is said that an interview is a two-way street with potential employers working to impress as well. I really felt that today.

After the interview, I’m definitely interested in the job. It is a good match for my skills. My potential supervisor and coworker seem like great people and more importantly, they seem happy with their jobs. That is huge.

At the same time, I will understand if they select someone else. I am good  great at what I do, but there are some parts of the job that I haven’t done in years. I understand that another candidate might be better for those needs and if that’s the decision they arrive at, I’ll be OK. I will chalk it up to experience and a really nice conversation with some fun folks.