It’s Monday morning, which usually finds me poring over job search sites as I seek to reenter the traditional workforce after a 17-year absence. However, Monday morning also means that a new weblog post is due, so this post is a collision of sorts between the two activities.
Over the past four months I have revised my resume, scanned writing samples, joined online job search communities, and updated my work wardrobe. I have submitted scores of applications, fielded phone queries, renewed networking relationships, and interviewed four times. I have, to date, no offers.
To a certain extent, I was expecting this. I was laid off when Hanna was a baby, and it took a full year to find a new job. This time circumstances are less dire – I am no longer a struggling single parent – but there is that pesky gap in my work history to contend with. True, I kept busy with volunteer and freelance work, but the reality is that I am competing for mid-level jobs with current employees wanting to move up the corporate ladder. As for the entry level positions opened up by their upward mobility, I am both overqualified and competing with a horde of eager new graduates. If I were making a hiring decision, I probably wouldn’t choose me either.
Which brings us to this past weekend. Phil and Joseph were camping, Laura had her usual array of weekend activities, and I had plenty of time to myself. Instead of working on my weblog, I took the opportunity to do some soul-searching. Despite knowing that a job search at my age is likely to be a long haul, the seemingly minimal level of interest in my resume has unsettled me and eroded my already fragile self-confidence.
I have also come to the conclusion that I am already mourning the loss of freedom over my time. While the logical part of me understands the need for increased stability in income and benefits, the emotional side of me realizes what a blessing it is for me to be at home. Generally our children are at the point where they require less hands-on care, but even as they grew older, so did our parents. Phil’s dad and mine passed away within months of one another and our mothers require increasing care. Over the past five years I stepped into the role of medical caregiver for them. It is a rare week without an appointment for somebody. I have grown accustomed to being able to do whatever needs to be done whenever it needs to get done, whether running a forgotten assignment to school, picking up a prescription or taking a car to the mechanic.
One of my stress-reducing techniques is list making. It helps whether it is a wish list or a to-do list or a pro/con balance sheet or a breakdown of a seemingly insurmountable task into meaningful chunks. (I read somewhere that checking an item off a list releases endorphins, and I believe it.)
So I made some lists. First a list of qualities that would make me a good employee:
- Detail oriented,
- Excellent writing, editing and proofreading skills,
- Excellent research and analysis skills,
- Work well alone or as part of a group,
- Excellent time manager,
- Diverse work history of highly responsible positions within state and federal government, the private sector and freelance.
Then, a list of activities that I enjoy:
Then a list of other pertinent personal characteristics:
- Tenacity to complete projects,
- Generosity with time and energy,
- Ability to use available resources to solve a problem,
- Preference to finish one task before starting another.
This led me to consider jobs that I can do vs. jobs I would love to do. Of all the possibilities I could think of, being a travel reviewer or blogger would be my dream job. Ideally a semi-monthly jaunt to an interesting location scheduled neatly between activities and responsibilities at home. It would involve travel, writing, reading and photography. I would scout out local customs, foods and crafts.
While my dreamer side seeks a way to make this happen (including how to stand apart from everyone else in the world who would love to do the same thing), the economist in me insists that the optimal use of my time right now is to return to finding a local job with benefits. So until next time, it’s back to the want ads.