Friday, December 30, 2011

Employable & Enjoyable Skills Breakdown

I've decided to make the most of my career break by really pinning down what I want to do with my life and so I've been selectively reading portions of "What Color is Your Parachute: 2007," specifically the chapter on finding your dream job. In this "dream job" chapter there are several activities that allow you to break down all the things you are looking for in a job.

In the search for my employable action items I sat down and did the first activity that the author entitles "Who Am I?" However, I found that to be a little vague, I'd think of this activity as more of a Employable & Enjoyable Skills Breakdown. This test is really asking you to identify the skills that you are good at and like to do in your life and then choose to focus your career around them. So after I completed the WCIYP activity, I went back and flushed it out with some additional things that I think make the activity more relevant to helping me define some employable action items.

Start the E&E Skills Breakdown...right here:

STEP 1: Take 10 post-its and on each one write down a role that you play or have played in your life. Just pick the first 10 roles that come to mind. By the end you might be picking out really obscure roles and that works too. I got pretty desperate at the end but I actually found them to be just as, if not more insightful.

Now don't scroll down until you are ready because I don't want mine to sway your choices...

Here's mine:

In case you can't make this picture out here are the roles I chose:

Mother, Wife, Woman, Daughter, Blogger, Teacher, Home-owner, American citizen, Dog-owner, Shopper.

*See, I told you they can be obscure.
*Also, just a note because you might be able to tell I did this twice, you don't need to number or rank them, I'd actually recommend you don't. 

STEP 2: Once all 10 are completed, lay them out and write at least two things you enjoy doing in that specific role.  If you can't come up with two for each, that's fine, and if some roles need more things, load them up. Just make sure by the end you have about 20 things written, and it's more than ok if you write the same thing twice. These things you like to do can be vague or they can be very specific. Be creative with what you write and make sure it is WHAT YOU ENJOY!

Here's mine:

and last but not least...

 STEP 3: Now take a sheet of paper and write down all of the things that you had listed more than once or that have some sort of common theme. For example, I combined "voting," "making product choices," and "picking out gifts" into decision making. I also combined things to create tasks I enjoy, like: "trying new activities," "being efficient," and "organizing," became "trying new things to be more efficient and effective."

In the long run, these tasks are things that you can use to identify your dream job. For our purposes, I'm just going to use them to identify some good employable action items to keep me busy right now.


P.S. - I would love to hear what you think about this activity. Feel free to share your results through comments, email, or tweet me @employablemom #EESkillsBreakdown

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Three Factors That Will Keep You Employable

So one of the things I am working on is developing action items for my employability project, just some things I can do to keep the ball rolling on maintaining my resume and network.

Without using any expert opinions, I've kind of coined what I believe are the Factors of Employability, the things that effect whether you get a job or not. My Factors of Employability are networking, experience, and education. These may seem obvious and need no explanation but I feel like for the sake of experimentation I should define my "test areas."

To me, experience is probably the most obvious factor of employability. Most non-entry level jobs require you to have some level of experience working in their field before they will consider you for a position. 

Education is the next factor of employability. For some jobs, employers use education to make a correlation between job success and so it ends up as a sort of check box of qualifications that employers use to weed people out. So clearly, it's important that you have the level of education that is being required. For other positions, having current education requirements is crucial, there are tons of jobs out there that require continuing education in order to maintain a certificate. 

Networking is probably the least obvious but the most helpful. It can really come down to who you know when job searching. The majority of the jobs I have had in life have been because I happened to know someone and in speaking with friends and family going through the job search process, this seems to be a universal route to finding a job.

I'm going to use these three areas to define my employable action items, which I swear are coming soon.


P.S. - Lets make this a conversation: am I missing any factors? Tweet me some things that you think should be a Factor of Employability @employablemom #FactorsOfEmployability

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I Can't Stop Searching For Jobs!

I just got back from spending the holidays with my in-laws. I'm really lucky to have great in-laws; I've heard some crazy stories from friends. Overall, the trip was a lot of fun but I am glad to be back to my "work."

Right before I left I had a little relapse of my work/not work conundrum, this happens about every other month and whenever this happens I go onto the internet job search boards and I "search for jobs." I find any job that remotely meets my qualifications and I start to apply, I rework my resume, write some cover letters, and so on.

It is no easy task. I spend hours doing it and end up only submitting like three applications but it makes me feel like I am still there, in the job market, going up against my competition. It usually doesn't get me anywhere; according to "What Color is Your Parachute: (2007)" only "4-10%" of people find jobs this way, but it makes me feel better and I think this process is beneficial for a couple of reasons.

4 Reasons to Search for a Job while on a Career Break

1. Job Awareness

Looking over job boards can give you a great broad range perspective about the types of positions that are available. Consistently taking time to just look over the job titles, locations, details can tell you so much about the market and what to expect when you return. You might notice that full time positions are being dwarfed by the amount of part time or temporary positions available. You might note that entry level accounting jobs seem to be drying up but their is an abundance of availability for CPAs, (time for me to finally buckle down and take the test!) You might also note certain companies that might be trending, which could be helpful in developing your network. Reviewing the types of jobs that are being posted can help you be strategic when it comes to planning for your career re-entry.

2. Skills/Qualification Awareness

I just couldn't resist...
Reading job descriptions can provide you with important information about the skills and qualifications that are in demand. This can be a great resource for finding some employable activities to work on during your career break. In one of the positions I applied for it said "knowledge of Quickbooks preferred but not required." I'm not really up-to-date on my Quickbooks but it's a really common skill for those working in finance and accounting. It would certainly be to my advantage to take a class at our local library or community college to become as fluent as my competition.

3. Resume Updating

The only time you think about updating your resume is when you are looking for a job and if you aren't planning on looking for a job for the next, say - ten years, well you will certainly forget all of the great employable activities that have been keeping you busy. This is just a great way to keep a running record of all of your experiences and then down the line you wont be stuck trying to use resume wizard to come with something from scratch last minute. 

4. Interview Practice

So what if you apply for a job and get an interview!? GO! Getting called in for an interview is a great way to keep your interviewing skills from getting rusty, plus, there is no stress on your end since you aren't trying to bank the job. It can also be a great way to meet contacts within the company (i.e. - network!) that can help you find a position in the future. Lastly, you could possibly learn about an awesome job that you wouldn't have otherwise considered (and maybe your calling is go back to work sooner than expected.) Just make sure you attend the interview with some genuine interest, you don't want to waste the company's time.

Overall, job searching can be a great way to help you stay employable while on a career break. I'm going to use it to help me pick out some employable action items that I keep talking about: look forward to it in a future post.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Is Pooping on Santa Grounds for the Naughty List?

Yesterday we took our baby to go see Santa at the mall and when we got there the elf at Santa's reception desk said that Santa had no more appointments for that afternoon. When did you have to make an appointment for Santa?

One of my mom friends told me she was there the previous week and another mom told her that she had to pull her kids out of school so they could make their Santa appointment. WHAT!? Seriously!? It's Santa not the doctor. Plus, I'm pretty sure skipping school will put you on the naughty list for sure.

So today - Santa Round 2. We switched malls (to one of the wait-in-line kinds) and got onto that lap without a wait. We finally snapped this classy photo and my husband grabs our boy and immediately makes a what's-that-smell face. Uh oh...we don't see anything leaking through the corduroys (which we discover are surprisingly resilient) but up the rest of the shirt and through the sweater...yep...he pooed on Santa's lap. No wonder Santa is grimacing in the picture...he's probably like "get this stinker off my lap!" I feel like the only way he is escaping loads of coal in his stocking was because he left Santa unscathed. Thank goodness!!!

Regardless, I would definitely add this to the list of things to do for baby's first Christmas. Recommended advice: bring a change of clothes. Most importantly, enjoy the time with your little one.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Career Moms: Yes, you can have it all.

 A few days ago a friend sent me a copy of the article that accompanies this photo and... I love it. I could frame it. I've been sitting here trying to find the specific words that I like about this photo and I'm having such a hard time. It actually makes me really emotional.

I think this woman just looks so powerful. She looks like she has absolutely everything together - she is doing her job while she is caring for her child; so infrequently are these two so seamlessly pared. While there might be a million things going on in the back story of this photo, I just love that for this one moment in time this woman is portrayed so perfectly. Just for this one second it says to all of us moms out there, "yes, you can have it all."


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Making Christmas Cards With a Baby

In between all of the diaper changes and feedings and the employable activities, I try to get in some enjoyable activities; all work and no play makes for a very dull life.

My son is almost 7 months now and is now at a playful age which has been a lot of fun. It truly makes me grateful that I am able to spend this time with him.

This year when I sat down to make Christmas cards I figured I would just upload some pictures of the family and put it into some online card making program but I haven't quite been able to fit that into the laundry list of things I am trying to complete during my son's nap times. So finally, I gave up, and it kind of hit me that I should involve him in the process. (I'm sure you are now questioning my sanity as you read...but at the time I seriously thought this was a good idea!)

I went to pinterest for some inspiration and found several hand/foot print projects that I could possibly put on some card stock and throw in an envelope, see examples here:





And I'm sure by now you must be saying..."what is this girl thinking...paint and a 7 month old, that sounds like a recipe for disaster!" Well, as it turns out, those are the recipes I am best at! I'm also from "I don't need no stinkin' directions!" family, so while I look at some nice inspirational photos I failed to read the inspirational directions. I decided I would just get a bunch of paint and see what worked out.

First, we stripped him down to his diaper - I definitely recommend.

Second, I painted his foot. I'm going to be honest...I have a very patient and happy baby. He was mostly intrigued by this.

However, the painted foot print came out kind of glob-y, so I thought it might be a better idea to lightly sponge paint on...again, my baby is very patient. 

 However, all good things come to and end...clearly you can see where this is heading... 

And at this point...I was basically about to give up. It took me forever to get these three prints and they were pretty bad. Plus, baby started to get fussy about not being able to touch the paint.

So much to my naivete, I figured, well if he wants to touch the paint...let's just go with the it. So after washing off his feet we moved on to painting his hand. He liked to play with the paint, the imprint wasn't too bad...but let me assure you - paint everywhere! Bad, bad, very bad idea. (And lets be honest...the color kind of looks like poop.)

It was at this point I was about to give up because this was just getting ridiculous and I kind of felt like an idiot by thinking this was a good idea. But in the back of my head: I know people take foot/hand impressions of their kids! I can't be completely out of it because somebody gave me a baby hand print cement thing for my baby shower. (I think that's still a little idealistic.) Plus, they did it at the hospital when he was did they do that!? So I thought back and got smart.

I laid baby down on a blanket on the floor, (with the dog for entertainment,)
grabbed some old ink pads I had lying around and started to ink up baby's feet.

I started stamping away while baby played with his toys and Hunter.

(It was at this point my husband discovered instagram...)

Resulting in a whole bunch of these guys...

That became this guy: 

So to sum it up...
How to take baby foot prints
Ink Pad
Hardcover book
Old towel/blanket

1. Strip baby down to diaper.
2. Lay baby down on an old towel and load him up with toys.
3. Ink up baby's foot and press onto card stock that is supported by a hard book.
4. Decorate as desired.

Recommended Age:
- When making the Christmas Tree, for best results make sure the heels are touching.
- Don't expect to make cards for 200 of your closest friends. You are probably good for about 10-20 if your lucky. (Just tell the lucky recipients it's a limited edition print.)
- Most importantly, have fun!


Friday, December 16, 2011

Keep Certifications Up-To-Date

In my first post, I talked about how I left my job to move to a new state with my husband. Just to elaborate a little, after bouncing through a number of different career tracks, I finally ended up as a teacher in the District of Columbia. While I worked there I got my Master's in Math Education and my teaching certificate. Since then, I moved to a new state and my teaching certificate needs to be updated.

While I'm not really planning on using it I think it's important for it stay current because if I let it get out-of-date, it's just going to be one more barrier to my re-entry of the job market. I know a lot of jobs out there require some sort of license-blah-blah...just keep it updated because even though it feels pointless and a hassle now, its going to be super annoying later when you have to meet new/all of the requirements because you let it lapse.

Now that I have successfully passed my CPR and First Aid Training I can send in all of my transcripts and paperwork and hopefully I am good to go on being certified! My goal is to get it into the mail by then end of the day. Wish me luck.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Finding My Passion Through a Naptime Project

A few days ago I decided I was going to make a commitment to hit the books and read as much as I can about employability, jobs, and career searching - and I have! I've been majorly requesting as many books as I can find at the library (I LOVE my local library) and I've been reading articles and checking out other blogs. I try to squeeze as much researching as I can into nap times. (I LOVE nap times.) There is so much stuff out there and I have only touched the surface. I've started to pin things that I'd like to read or have already read onto my pinterest.

I can't tell you how much I am enjoying just reading and taking notes on things I want to share. Starting this blog has been a great project for me and I have been much in need of a project! I feel that every new stay-at-home mom really needs some sort of mommy project. I know a lot of SAHMs that take up photography (why not when you have such cute subjects) or cooking or blogging or start a mommy business. Regardless of what you decided to do, having some sort of goal-oriented project is great for taking your mind off all the drool and poop.

One of the reasons I started this blog was because I was having trouble finding a naptime project. I have no hobbies; my career was my hobby. It sounds sad but I truly enjoy the organization of going into work for a set amount of time and focusing all of my thoughts onto one/many tasks that support an end goal. Right after I had my son, I channeled all of this "work" energy into taking care of my son, which sounds good but it really wasn't. I read every parenting book I could find, I started writing down every little think my son did, I gave ridiculously detailed instructions for the smallest of tasks, even for my husband, and even if I was only just going to take a shower. I tried to organize my infant, which obviously went over spectacularly. To some degree I'm sure this is a very normal reaction for a new mom, but one day, I finally realized that I can take care of my son without making it my life's work.

I love the idea of working for myself and so I really wanted to start a mommy business. I read a bunch of things about starting a business and everything seemed pretty fun and manageable but I kept stumbling over the "idea" or the "product" or the "service" that I needed to center my business around. In thinking about this whole hobby/business thing I kind of realized that I am not even sure what I want to be passionate about!

About a month ago someone suggest that I read "What Color is Your Parachute" by Richard Bolles. I read it in 2007 when I was going through a job search and found it be really helpful; it was so helpful that I read the first two chapters and found a job right away. (These events were not mutually exclusive either; one of the methods he advocates for is asking family and friends, which is how I ended up finding that job.)

So finally last week, right before I stumbled upon starting this blog, I took it out and starting flipping past the two chapters I had already read and I found a whole section on "resuming the search to find your dream." So I've decided that this is going to be my first recommended reading book. When I go back to the job market I don't want to return to just any old 9-5, I want to truly LOVE what I am doing because otherwise it's just not worth it.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Be a Lifesave Too: CPR and First Aid Training (part 2)

Yesterday, I told you about a couple of the reasons about why I was glad that I started this CPR class, and they were mostly selfish reasons about how they will benefit my employability. However, I think the number one reason why I am glad I am taking the class is because I got to learn CPR and First Aid for children and infants. As a new parent, it just makes me feel better. I would recommend it to all new moms and dads because as much as we don't want our child to ever get hurt, it's going to happen, and it's better to be prepared.

I went through the American Red Cross and found it pretty easy to sign up for a course online by just entering my zip code into their site, here. The other thing that it is pretty nice is that they post all of the class resources so you can read them at your leisure AND they also offer an interactive online refresher course. I started to breeze through it but figured it would be better left for a few months from now when I totally don't remember anything; I'll let you know how it goes.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I'm Saving Lives: CPR and First Aid Training (part 1)

Tonight I went to the first half of my CPR and First Aid Training series. I have had this planned for a while and was NOT looking forward to it. I've been trained in CPR several times and I thought it got pretty boring the second time around - and this is my fourth time. After I got out, I've been really glad that I am doing this for several reasons.

The main reason I had to attend this CPR training is to keep my teaching certificate current in my new state. I'm sure there are a lot of you out there that have jobs that require constant maintenance and continuous education which can be super daunting and easy to put off (at least for me it has been.) Plus, going to the class was a huge annoyance schedule-wise; my options were one 8 hour long class (impossible - my son is still nursing,) four 2 hour sessions (but it lasts two weeks), or two 4 hour sessions (it goes until 10pm, which is way past my bedtime, but it seemed more efficient plus he let us out a little early!)  I am really glad that I am doing it because this could become a HUGE obstacle later on down the road and if the obstacles start to add up, then the burden to re-enter the job market might be too discouraging.

One thing I was not expecting to get out of the training was that I found it to be a great place to network! All of the other people in this class are teachers and student teachers from all over our district. If I needed to get some insight about a certain school or get some contacts, these people would be super helpful.

Last and of course the most obvious benefit, is that having a current teaching certificate and being CPR certified, well that just makes my resume look good!

I have a couple more things to share about my CPR class but I'm going to have to save it for tomorrow because now it is way past my bedtime.


P.S. Click here for CPR and First Aid Training Resources

Monday, December 12, 2011

What Do I Do to Be "Employable?!"

Now that I have decided that a major career break is imminent, I've been seriously thinking about what it means to be "employable" and what do I specifically need to do to stay employable?

Since, I am planning to reemerge in the job market in several years, what do I need to be doing now that will help me to be competitive with the new college grads, the seasoned vets, and the people who never left?

First there is the obvious, while I'm taking time off, all of my competition is going to be polishing their skills and getting more experience and education. By just doing what they normally do day-to-day, they will be more employable than me, and so I am going to have to do the same. In my own way I am going to have to find ways to gain resume-building experience and/or education. I think this is going to be an interesting challenge because unlike other job seekers I am going to have to coordinate this around my family's schedule.

The second area that I need to focus on during the next few years is networking. I feel like this is the most common piece of advice that I have seen out there when it comes to job searching. Although I am not currently searching, I think it is important that I maintain the network I have and enhance it to make for an easy transition back to the job market. Additionally, one thing I've noticed these past six months, is that hanging out with my son does not count as "social." I seriously need to spend some time talking with other adults, and not just at SAHM groups, (because while I have truly enjoyed my mom groups, the conversation can become a repeated loop of eat, sleep, poop.)

I think these two areas will be a great jumping off point to create some employable action items. But I also think what I really need to do is hit the books. In googling around about "taking a career break," I found tons of information on job searching and career advice which I think I could make applicable from a long term perspective.

In the meantime, shoot me an email - I would love some feedback from you! In the next couple of days I'm going to start coming up with some action items, things that I want to try to do to build my resume and my network - any recommendations? I'd also love to get some good career-related recommended reading.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Employability Project

Welcome to my blog!

My name is Jordan and I am a twenty-something new mom to a wonderful 6-month old baby boy, (who is amazing!) And while I am thoroughly enjoying being a mom I am struggling with the highly controversial debate of what kind of mom to be: a stay-at-home mom or a career mom. For some this question is very cut and dry, however, I think that there are many of us out there who really struggle with this. We love our kids but we love our work.

The mantra of my childhood has always been work hard so you can get a job and so I did. I have spent over 18 years in school to get a "good job" and I have held some sort of a full/part time job or internship since I was 14. I have basically spent my entire life "career" oriented.

But something happened several years ago, I met this guy...and I liked him. When he asked me out, I told him, "I don't want to be your girlfriend because I am focusing on my career," and that worked for a while, but he wore me down, and since he was pretty amazing and I love him, we decided to get married. "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage..." And here we are.

Well and also...we moved to a new city, in the state that has the highest unemployment rate in the nation AND my current career field (education) isn't particularly looking to hire AND we will be moving back to our old city in 2.5 years AND we want to have another child before we go.

Despite all this, since we moved I have been working and I am currently working (part time) as a contracted tutor for a small local company that supports our area schools. This job has been working well for the past year for several reasons, it's got a flexible school year schedule, it's during the time my husband can be off to watch our son (so no daycare) I really like the people I work with, it's in my career field, I have really gotten to know the ins and outs of our local schools and their curriculum; the pay is an added bonus.

However, I'm bored with it, there isn't a whole lot of opportunity to move up in the company or learn any new skills, the hours are late into the evening, I feel pressured to bring work home or spend unpaid time there, and I'm not really sure I want to stay with teaching. Most importantly, I can't shake the nagging feeling that I am compromising what I want to do for this one short blurb on my resume. I feel like I have been clinging to this position because in this economy - I'd be an idiot to throw a job away! I have no new job to go to, plus, between being with my son all day and working at night (albeit only two days a week right now,) I just haven't had the time to dedicate to a proper job search.

My husband told me I should leave if I wasn't happy; (I love him.)

But - what to do!? I feel like job searching here is kind of fruitless because I don't know what I want to do career-wise. We are going to be moving so soon and we want to have a #2. I feel like this is the perfect time for me to "stay at home" but can I afford a major break in my career!?

So that brought me to the question - can I, or any mother/father/caregiver, really afford a major break in their career? So I went to the natural source of all things wise and knowing - google - and I searched for about a bazillion different things and I found lots of tips to maintain employability while on a career break but had a really hard time finding a person who had documented their experience of taking a significant number of years away from their career to spend as a caregiver and then successfully returning, (especially in this economy!) I'm not just talking about a one-person-did-this blurb because I know this exists but I want documentation, people! (And maybe it's out there...but I'm going to err on the side that google would not fail me.)

So this is me and this is my blog and for the next 2.5 years I'm going to document all of my efforts to maintain my employability while being a stay-at-home mom; in hopes that after all is said and done, I'm going to be "The Employable Mom."


P.S. - I'd really appreciate it if you would follow me and send some love because everyone needs a cheering squad to stay hopefully and motivated! Thanks! Check out my profile for contact info.