The Return to Work Experience

Because I documented my desire to return to work as well as the details of my job search, I figured I should write about my Return to Work Experience.

Since December 12th, I have been working for a Social Service Agency who aids the Elder community.  My title is HR Administrative Assistant, but my duties are much more of a Recruiting Coordinator. I am happy to report that I was actually able to find an organization that would let me work from 9am-3pm.  For now, this is a temp assignment so it is offering me a “taste” of returning to work–to see how I like it, how I handle it, how it affects the family.

My first 10 days were mostly administrative Grunt-Work—filing, filing, and more filing.  I would have been tasked with data entry, but my supervisor was having problems getting me access into their HRIS systems.  I pretty much impressed/surprised them with the speed and efficiency of my filing skills.  ;>)

I then went away for 10 days for the Christmas holidays, so I consider my “First Day of Real Work” as January 3rd.  My supervisor had fixed the HRIS issue, so I now had the ability to go into the system and update evaluation dates, change of addresses, new job titles.  I was also given the responsibility of handling all the job postings and resume intake, as well as meeting with candidates, sending out offer letters, and much more.

There have been times  when I have wondered if this is actually a 30 hour a week job.  Either it is not, or I am too quick and efficient, or they just haven’t given me the “meat” of the job yet.  I can’t say that I’m being “challenged” but I am feeling very productive. Luckily, over the past 2 weeks, I have been given more and more responsibility and autonomy. My supervisor and the HR Director are *very* pleased with the high level of detail and integrity I show in my work.  I am constantly being complimented, and have been asked to extend my assignment from March until the end of May.

How has my return to work effected our home life?

Well, for starters, I haven’t heard any squawking from the peanut gallery.

My morning routine with the boys is *exactly* the same.  Lily and I take the boys to the bus stop each morning, and she and I go on a quick walk.  Lily gets the raw deal, as her walks are quite short now, and she is home alone for 7 hours.  The boys now take the bus after school, instead of my picking them up.  When the boys come into the house, they grab a snack and start their homework. On occasion, I have to remind them that their “unwind” time was the 30 minute bus ride. And each night, I make a nice dinner for the family–sometimes it’s casual, sometimes I go all out–just like before I worked.

I have done a few 7pm grocery trips during the week, and I have done “full grocery runs” on either Saturday or Sunday.  It doesn’t bother me all that much, but it’s definitely not the same as going to a nice, quiet, relatively-empty grocery store at 9am on a weekday.

What I have noticed, and perhaps this does bother me a little, is that since January, I have done a ton of errands on Saturdays or Sundays in between basketball games, church, or other commitments. When I mentioned this to Hubby, he hasn’t noticed. But I guess this is the reality of a working mom.

I have been able to keep up with housework.  Back in December, I called a couple of housecleaners. One did come for a meet-and-greet, and I played phone tag with the others. I try not to make phone-calls at work, so I say “I’ll call when the boys do their homework.” But I forget, and the next day I kick myself. But just like before I worked, I divide the household chores into different days, rather than cleaning the WHOLE HOUSE in one day/night. And it’s worked for me. But I am HAPPY TO SAY, I finally did another meet-and-greet with a house cleaner, which came recommended by 2 friends….and I really liked her….so she’ll start this week! (YAY!)

Where do I go from here?

Although I am capable of doing more than just administrative assistant work, I am happy that I decided to re-join the workforce in this capacity. I will admit that I very much underestimated the changes–laws, technology, procedures–in the last 10 years.  This has been a great refresher and tutorial all in one.  I know I’m not “manager” material (yet), but I’m looking forward to a bigger challenge.

The HR Director talked to me the other day about whether I would be interested in staying with the company on a “permanent” basis in a full-time role (the role/title/job description is still being ironed out).  As flattered as I was, I had to turn down her offer because I *really* don’t want to work 40 hours.  I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed filling 6 hours of my day with work I enjoy doing, being part of a team, being appreciated….but still able to come home, meet my boys at the bus, help them with their homework, and make a nice meal where we all sit together and share our stories of the day. I don’t want to give that up. I’m very fortunate to be in a position that I don’t have to work 40 hours (or more). And as I told hubby recently, By me returning to work, I am not breaking the family. If anything, I am enhancing the family because it shows my kids that “Yes, mommies are smart too. They can work.” I’m not deserting them for a job. I want to work while they are at school/work, as not to break the balance or the FAMILY WE CREATED.

I am fortunate to be working with 2 very lovely, dedicated ladies.  I plan on working at this agency through the end of May, or longer if they need me. Maybe they’ll change their mind and want to offer me a perm PT position? If not, that’s ok. I have thoroughly loved this experience, the “taste” of returning to work. And I will know what I enjoy doing, and can focus on that, and find something that “fits”.

Here’s to the future!

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On the Job

I started my job on Monday!!

I have received many texts, emails, and FB posts from friends offering CONGRATS and Well Wishes, as well as questions of “How was your 1st (or 2nd) day?”

It’s a little too soon to tell, but for the most part….all is good.

The commute is great for me–it’s between 20-25 minutes in each directions–all “reverse” commute.

The two ladies I work for are very, very nice. Both mornings, the HR Director, once she settles herself in her own office, comes out and sits down across from me at my desk and asks me how things are going, asks about my boys, etc. She is being friendly and trying to establish a relationship. I very much appreciate it.

The Benefits Manager is very nice as well.  She is usually on “high” speed because she has so much to do, but she doesn’t mind if I interrupt her with questions or ideas. She stops and listens. I appreciate that too.

So far all I’ve really done is filing–all sorts.  Apparently, I’m very good at filing, as I finish my tasks within an hour and a half.  Each day I have provided suggestions or ideas that the HR Director and Benefits Manager hadn’t thought of, and they each wanted me to implement the change. Nothing monumental, but just something that was so intuitive to me, and it works!

Although my hours are 9am-3pm, I have been “done” with all my tasks by 1:30 each day.  I know it’s still the early stages of my employment and I am hoping that more “meatier” stuff will come my way in the coming days. Or maybe they just over-estimated how long it would take someone to do the tasks.  Hubby keeps telling me I have to pace myself better!

I think there was an expectation of sorts (by me? by Hubby?) that I would be tired from working 6 hours a day, PLUS coming home and helping with the Homework, making Dinner, doing Laundry, and everything else that falls under my umbrella. Surprisingly, I have had MORE energy!  I haven’t fallen asleep on the couch yet! When I come home and the boys finish their homework, I am *looking* for stuff to do.

So far the VP is happy, the boys are happy for me, and Thomas Inc. is running smoothly. All after 2 days.

I’ll keep you posted if anything changes!  ;>)

Wine or Whine Not….A Psychic Night in

A fellow MOT (and new friend) hosted an event last night at her house……a variation of the traditional “MOT Night Out,” which usually takes place at a restaurant.  She dubbed it “Whine or Whine Not”…..nice play on words, huh? And to make it even more interesting, she had her psychic Gloria come and do 15-20 minute readings for each guest.

It has been approximately 15 years since I’ve had a “real” psychic reading. Back then, Vi came to my house and did an outstanding….spot-on….reading of things going on in my life and predicted things that did actually come true. Since Vi’s reading, I have been to a psychic once–probably about 11 years ago–but it was a very “generic” reading, i.e “you will be traveling soon, you have a great relationship, but past conflicts.” Because of all the STUFF going on at home and in my head, I found this MOT Night Out to be a MUST DO.

I was the fourth one to go upstairs. I went into the room where Gloria was sitting and introduced myself.  She asked me for my date of birth (month, day, year), and asked me to shuffle a deck of cards while she looked up my birthday in the Astrology book she had.  While I continued to shuffle, she declared that I am a true Gemini….all my moons/stars/planets are Gemini.  I found this a little odd, because although I am aware I was born when the moons were changing, I have always considered to carry Cancer traits.  Whatever…..I was still listening.  apparently, in the last 4 years Gemini has been in turmoil.  In the last 4-6 months, Gemini has been trying to correct itself and find balance again.

Gloria then asked me to return the deck of cards to her, and then take one card from a turquoise deck and four cards from a purple deck. Then my reading began.

Except that it didn’t.  She looked at the cards. She looked at me.  She told me that in order for her to have a successful reading, I needed to let my aura free.  At the time, I was sitting at the edge of my seat, sitting straight up, and holding my breath. TENSE. Upon her prompting, I moved to the back of the chair, closed my eyes, took deep breath, and tried to relax.

It helped.

Here is what Gloria said:

  • I am a private person who will listen to people tell their life stories, but I only reveal certain things to certain people. I must find the person to be trustworthy first before I give up any personal details/stories about myself.  I prefer to write down my thoughts/feelings/fears/ideas rather than talk to someone. I like to write all these things down, and go back to read and re-read and think about what I wrote.  (Hmmmm, blogger that I am……)
  • I am smarter than I give myself credit or let people know.  I am very intelligent.  I need to do something with that intelligence because what I am doing now is not cutting it.
  • I am in a state of antsy frustration. I need more than what I have, but I am not looking for financial gain or advancement. More of a mental stimulation and sense of purpose.
  • Gloria sees me going back to school.  Not necessarily to get another degree, but to learn something that would be directly  job related, to help advance the path I end up on.
  • She kept seeing me in an “institution”  (HAHAH!…..Ok, not that kind of institution!) There wouldn’t be any small kids, just adults. Maybe a college, a hospital. Somewhere were I would be helping people.
  • My spouse/partner is not being supportive, and it’s been a cause for additional frustration. He isn’t understanding what I need.  But regardless of what he thinks, I will forge ahead with my plans and all will work out.  This frustration is a rough patch in our relationship, but it will not last. I need to hang in there because he will learn that what I am doing is the right thing. She told me that the children will be OK and are old enough to take care of themselves.

At this point, I was in shock and awe.  The only information she had about me was that I was a mom of twins (she was told all the guests were MOTs), my first name, and my date of birth.

In addition, she stated she sees me writing/publishing a book. Not necessarily in the near future, but sometime in my lifetime.  She concluded that I need to go ahead with my plans to find happiness and fulfillment. It will calm me down and help me be “whole.”

After all that, I went back downstairs for a glass of wine……

And then…..there were two…..

This past week, I had 2 interviews (shocking, huh?)–both for PT HR Assistant positions.
On Tuesday I was contacted by Staffing Company (whom I had spoken w/ back in Sept/Oct).  They had a position in a nearby town. The company is a  family run operation. The company has a Recruiter who handles all the hiring from point A to point Z, and a Payroll Person, but were looking for someone to take care of all the other HR Paperwork.  This would be a temp-to-perm position.   Staffing Company told me that they sent someone w/ 15 yrs of HR Experience, and the Company folk would say “Nope, Too much experience”….and hence, my resume was pulled up (the exact opposite!! HAHA!).  The interview (on Wednesday) went GREAT! I was “ON.” I liked the small office feel, got along great w/ the president and VP whom I interviewed with.  I was told they were looking to make a decision by Friday, so someone could start next week.
Also on Tuesday, I found a posting on Craigslist for a PT HR Assistant position through HR Staffing Company (one that I had been “afraid” to contact due to my bad experience with the snooty HR Staffing Company).  The position is only a 2-3 month contract position, someone to do the paperwork while they find a new HR Manager  (one recently left…”it didn’t work”).  Instead of emailing my resume, I called HR Staffing  directly.  (BTW, I contacted them 10 minutes after the posting was placed on CL!). I was put through to the recruiter’s VM. HR Recruiter called me back w/in 30 minutes. We went over my background, she wanted me to add a couple of things to my resume, and she was excited (!) to pass my resume along to her client, which is a local non-profit agency.  She scheduled an interview for Friday, and she wanted to meet with me in person, at a coffee shop near her client (meet me F2F to make sure I was presentable, I guess!). HR Recruiter and I hit off so well.  She was understanding, supportive, excited for me….my cheerleader.

For a couple days, I was going back and forth with hypotheticals–aka, what if both companies wanted to hire me, which would I choose? They both paid the same, both positions were nearly identical, the commute is nearly identical, I felt comfortable with both sets of people/offices. It came down to:  TEMP  or TEMP-PERM. With the temp job, it would be a good “feeler” for returning to work–for me, the boys, and especially Hubby. And it would provide me with “recent” experience to put on my resume.  But, I would be back in the “job hunt” in a couple of months.

Anyway, the interview on Friday also went well.  I called HR Recruiter after the interview to tell her how it went. She sounded excited, and said she would send an email to her client to get their feedback. Within 10 minutes she called me and said I got the job, if I wanted it!  I said YES–primarily for the reasons stated above, but also because I felt that HR Recruiter and I established a relationship and she went to bat for me, which I very much appreciated.

Starting this week,  I will be a (temp) HR Assistant at a local non-profit!!! The hours are 9am-3pm, so our lives shouldn’t be too much out of balance.   I am super excited.  As are my boys!  Hubby seems supportive too.

I can’t wait….and I will keep you posted on how things go!

A “Legal” Interview

How ironic that I ended my last post  pre-Turkey Day post stating that a job in a law office just didn’t thrill me.

Guess what happened to me on Tuesday?

I received a phone call from an attorney in a nearby town after I responded to her “Part-time Legal Assistant” position she posted on Craigslist. She is a “working mom” and said “she gets it”…..a working mother’s need to balance the mom and a job.  She found my experiences to be a good fit for the position she is hiring for.  She told me practices Landlord/Tenant disputes. And she told me that what she’s really looking for is for someone to handle her accounts. She invited me down for an interview.

HOLY COW!  A REAL INTERVIEW!!!! And on the drive down, I felt all sorts of good vibes—Poison’s “Nothing But a Good Time,” Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion,” and Motley Crue’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” were all on the radio!!! My type of Happy Tunes.

Ms. Attorney was very nice. As a matter of fact, we graduated from the same law school (which she didn’t realize). She graduated a year before me, because I was in the night program.  Her office is very small.  Very small. As in…..one room.  (I once worked for a solo-practitioner, but at least he had his own “office.”) The hours are 9am to 12pm.  She explained that since she went out on her own 4 years ago, she has done all her own billing/accounting, so she knows how long it takes; hence the 3 hour/day position. She also would like someone to “clean up her office.” As for legal research or document drafting, there would be little or none of that.

I left the interview very conflicted.  I can honestly say that despite my initial excitement about being called in for an interview…….the job didn’t excite me. On any level.  The hours sound perfect, no? The kids wouldn’t be effected. The husband wouldn’t be effected. The dog wouldn’t be effected. But I would basically be doing data entry of her billable hours and sending out invoices to clients and recording payments of said invoices. There would be little or no “adult” interaction…except for Ms. Attorney when she would be in the office. She told me that any legal work would be entering names /addresses into pre-formatted documents. She hadn’t even noticed I had a law degree until I mentioned it. So maybe she had not considered having an actual legal assistant.  And to be totally truthful, even if the position had more law practice involved, IT DOESN’T EXCITE ME. I think I can completely put the “I want to be a lawyer” thing totally behind me. Over. Finis. Kaput. BURIED.

This position is not a stepping stone to a career. It would just get me out of the house for 3 hours today.

I have spent the last few days trying to figure out what is more important to me. Getting out of the house. Or finding something that interests me and challenges me.

Sigh.

Pounding the Pavement and Clacking on the Keyboard

Since I have followers (!) who have taken an interest in my attempt to re-enter the workforce, I thought it might be time for an update.

Folks, it hasn’t been easy.

I’m a smart girl.  I recognize and realize the realities of the job market.

But the lack of response really affects my self-esteem.

When I started back in August, I contacted a few friends and co-workers for “informational interviews” and some networking.  Each person gave me some great comments/tips for my resume. Each person also recommended doing some temping or contract work.  The deeper I got into the process, the more appealing contract work became.  I can “try out” working for a 2-6 month commitment (depending on the position and/or employer) and see if I really DO want to return to the workforce.

I have contacted several staffing and temping agencies.  I have run into 2 camps—those that are really nice (or pretend to be) and those that are somewhat…..snooty…..and don’t want to give me the time of day.  After responding to an on-line job posting, recruiters from 3 different staffing/temp agencies called me to speak about my experiences and my situation, what I”m looking for, etc.  In each of these 3 cases, I was asked to come in and meet the recruiter in-person.  I found this to be an excellent opportunity to dress up and practice my interviewing skills.  At the conclusion of each meeting, the recruiter…kindly….stated that the majority of their clients are looking for Full Time employees, but if a Part Time position in my area of interest pops up, they would definitely refer me….because (in their words) despite being “out of work” for 10 years, I do have a strong resume with varied skills.  They insist I keep in contact with them about my job search, and to feel free to contact them with any questions.  I ask them if I see a job posting for a FT position, but based on the job description I feel it’s a “perfect fit,” would they contact the employer on my behalf to see if the employer would consider a 30/hr per week person? The recruiter smiles nicely, and replies that it is possible.(nice, professional, esteem-boosting……but I know they won’t/don’t).  I know that they have a job to do, and that job is to make sure their clients are 100% satisfied.  There must be enough candidates out there, that to waste time on my query is not worth it to them.

However, I am thankful to these nice, professional people who took time out of their day to speak with me.

Then, there’s the opposite experience. There is one company in particular, who call themselves the “HR Staffing Experts” (or something like that).  I have submitted my resume for several positions. Not a phone call.  I asked a friend who is an HR professional if she has a contact at this HR Staffing company. She enthusiastically gave me her contact, whom I called. The lady flat out said that none of her clients would look at a resume from a candidate who hasn’t worked in 10 years.  As if everything I have done in the last 10 years has no value whatsoever.

I’m NOT applying for HR Manager, Director, or VP positions. Not even the HR Generalist or Specialist positions. I’m applying for the HR Administrative Assistant—the data entry/interview scheduler/envelope stuffer!!!!!

As much as this ticked me off, it also gave me resolve to pester these people until they speak to me.  I cold-called the Staffing Company and was connected to a different recruiter. I got the same response. (My HR professional friend is HORRIFIED by the  attitude of this staffing company) But I keep calling and emailing…….Why? Because I feel that I am the caliber candidate they are looking for, despite my “lack of work.”

Last week, while I was in Boston to meet with one of the nice Staffing Company, I came across another staffing company that I had been meaning to contact.  This office was set up for people to just walk in off the streets. So I did. I handed my resume, and a Staffing Consultant–who looked young enough that I could be his mother (YIKES!!!)–guided me to a small conference room. He let me give my schpeel about my life, work experiences, and holes in the resume.  At the end, he said “Well, I’ll pass this along to the HR group  letting them know that you are looking for something in the burbs during “mothers hours” and if something fits, they’ll call you.”   I’m pretty good at reading people. That was a blatant “We can’t help you, but thanks for stopping by.”

Again, interview experience.

I also decided to start a log of all the jobs I sent my resume to.  Since mid-August, I have sent my resume to at least 45 job postings.  I know it’s a little more than that, but 45 is the number I have on record (either saved Word docs or emails in my sent or in box). I had a goal to send a minimum of 3 resumes a week. I think I’ve come close to that goal.  Some weeks are better than others (for example, this week…..0). I have also been responding to FT positions—in the hopes that maybe someone will say “Hey, this girl has lots to offer” and call me….talk to me….decide YES I possess many of the qualities they are looking for….and then amend the position to 30-35hrs.

Wishful thinking.  Yes.

But at least I’m sending out my resume. If I was only sending out to PT jobs, I would really be depressed. At least this way I have a little bit of hope to hold on to.

I have also tweeked my cover letter this week.  Added a little bit of SASS to it—I felt like I needed to explain (1) Stay at home moms are WORKING MOMS (thanks Snooty Staffing Company), and (2) why hiring me for 30-35 hours is a smart move. We’ll see if it gets me noticed.

As for “real” interviews….I have had one. It was through a temp agency for a part-time position at a medical staffing company.  It was a contract position to last 4 months, with the potential for a long-term permanent hire.  Granted, I don’t have experience in the medical field, but I do have recruiting assistant experience which could transfer to any industry.  I thought the interview was going well. But then I blew it.  I was asked a question that I wasn’t expecting, nor did I know how to answer.  “Where do you see yourself in a year?” I became flustered.  Well, the position is a temp position…..no guarantee that I’ll be here a year from now.   My husband isn’t on-board with me returning to work. What if I decide that I can’t juggle work and home?  I just didn’t have an answer. And I think that’s what blew the opportunity for that job.  Needless to say, I won’t make that mistake again.

And lastly…….I have been asked  by friends, colleagues, staffing consultants, my mother……. and by me……”What about your law degree?” Yeah, that one is hard to answer.  I feel like if it’s on my resume, employers would find me over-educated (over-qualified?).  If it’s off my resume, I feel like I’m being dishonest.  Those in favor of keeping it on my resume bring up good points–that if it comes up on a background check, it shows I lied.  And another “PRO” for leaving it on, is that it shows that I AM educated, can research, write, and set me apart from other candidates.

As for working in the law field.  Not really interested. It was something I wanted OH SO LONG AGO. I don’t have any desire to take the Mass Bar. But that’s not to say I haven’t applied for a couple of Paralegal jobs…..because I have. Not my first choice. But if it’s local, with “mother’s hours”, and in a field of law I am interested in, then YES I will apply. But definitely NOT my first choice.

Enough time on this…..off to check the job boards…..again.