Once upon a time, job seeking was never a daunting task. In my old life I traded jobs often, moving companies whenever I wanted, looking for a new challenge and a new focus. But that was before. In 2010 I left employment to look after Emma and Harry full time (a different kind of employment it’s true) and though I sometimes reminisced about how much easier one job was over another, I was happy to have left that corporate world behind.
When I first mentioned I was returning to work and how nervous I was about it, friends reminded me how much I had to offer. And I believed them, thinking that were I sitting in that interviewers chair I would recognise the years of work experience, plus the years of life experience. That the things I’d learned over the years hadn’t disappeared, and my ability to contribute hadn’t diminished. We talked about transferable skills, maturity and responsibility. The desire (and almost desperation) to work and make a meaningful contribution was there.
How naive I was.
Instead I’m finding a very different landscape. I’ve been met with a million different responses all with the same message; you’ve been out of the game too long. ‘When was the last time you worked?’ ‘What have you been doing?’ and my favourite ‘Why would you want to return to work?’ And those are just the ones I actually hear from. I’ve been amazed at the number of job ads that simply state that only progressing applicants will be contacted. Maybe it’s the harsh reality of job seeking today, but it’s a sad indictment that the effort a job seeker puts in to applying for a job can’t at least be acknowledged by a return email.
And don’t get me started on what passes as part time, family friendly work hours! There was one job with great hours with a large organisation, that required seven weeks full time training in Sydney to get started (involving a 3 and a half hour commute each day). Or the one that was 32 hours a week… I think it’s pretty fair to assume that they are squashing a full time job into four days! Or ads stating that they are school hours friendly, but start at 7am! What school allows you to drop children off at 7am!! A whole section of our community is completely marginalised because we can’t think creatively and realistically about experience, aptitude and working hours. It’s absolutely mind boggling!
With hindsight I realise that just like generations of women before me, when I gave away my employment I gave away a level of independence, and following on from that, a life line. I had no way of knowing where five years would bring me, however were I able to step back now I’d warn myself not to give away that job so quickly. I gained so much by being able to stay home with Emma and Harry. Now I’m finding out what I lost.
I was going to go on to write that I’m in no way deterred, and that I’ll keep looking. That I will find something that is perfect for me and that it will just take some time. And an employer who values it’s people for more than what they can put down on paper.
And then this week I got a job offer!!!!!
After six months I found a business that actually offers part time, meaningful work that is honestly family friendly. I’m over the moon. It’s another step in the journey; I’m nervous about starting back at work but excited too. And can’t wait to share it with you