I have a confession to make. I have found nothing of value (yet) in Working Mother magazine. $100 blouses do not interest me, nor could I afford them. A list of best companies for mothers to work for is just great, but most of them are only looking for marketing and tech people.
I can’t be the only one who feels this way. What does this have to do with you and your job search? Well, I understand how easy it is to become frustrated and give up – or, at least, take a break. Many people are cut from the unemployment count because they are no longer eligible for unemployment or because they stop looking for work.That doesn’t mean they don’t want a job. At those times, it would be useful to have a resource for working moms who aren’t way, way above the poverty line.
I’m still working on getting interviews and finding the right job for me, and in September I am returning to school. I could probably follow some of my own advice: take one step at a time and forget perfection, work smarter, and remember, you are not your job.
- Take one step at a time. Forget perfection.
I cannot emphasize enough how important this is! This advice applies equally to job applications, grant applications (for those of you in government, education, or social justice work*) and scholarship and fellowship applications. It’s easy to get swallowed up by paperwork and miss a deadline because you’re overwhelmed. If you have to revise your cover letter and your resume, plus actually submit the application, start with what needs the most work. Do that first, and then worry about what’s next. Also, forget perfection. You’re not going to have a chance at all if you don’t turn in the application. Seeing the advice that you should tailor your cover letter and resume to each and every job is off-putting to those of us who are 99% sure that we aren’t going to get that call anyway, and while I am not saying you shouldn’t customize your resume when you can, prioritize! Last time I applied for a fellowship, the rules stated that they needed five copies of the application, and they preferred it to be typed. I couldn’t type it – I ended up finishing the application outside of the post office with my 5 year old son whining about how long it was taking – my handwriting was messy – I got the fellowship anyway.
2. Work smarter.
You probably hear this one a lot. I’ll admit that I could be a lot better at working smarter. Nevertheless, I am sure it is an important skill to learn. But what does it MEAN? For me, it means saving drafts of cover letters and resumes for different types of positions, so that when I see a posting for a job in education (versus, let’s say, secretarial work) I can revise that particular cover letter and resume just slightly to emphasize the specific skills they mention in the job post.
3. Remember: you are not your job.
You have probably heard this one a lot, too. I know it’s hard to remember when, in many cases, you have to be employed to have access to early childhood programs (as long as, ironically, you’re not slightly over the poverty line), and Marisa Meyer cut telecommuting at Yahoo just last year, and … need I go on? Working moms tend to be sent a strong message. It doesn’t matter if you are only working part time, or even that you are only working part time because your position is granted funded and they won’t give you any more hours; don’t expect any flexibility about the days and times that you work. And, if you’re not working, well, then you’re JUST a stay at home mom.* Maybe you are right now, and that’s ok if you can afford it– but if working out of the home is what you want to do, just keep reaching for your goal.
* Please let me know if I forgot a field in which grant writing would be useful.
* Families That Work: Policies for Reconciling Parenthood and Employment, by Janet C.Gornick and and Marcia K. Meyers, is an excellent resource for exploring the issues of work/family balance and also the ways in which government and social programs in the U.S. favor the employed.