Job Hunt IV

You might have noticed it’s been very quiet around here recently. Efforts have been going elsewhere I’m afraid. Gradually things are coming together though I have to report that getting back into the workplace after 7 years of working as a mummy is no easy feat….. it seems there are mountains to climb before mums are considered equal to those who stay in the workplace (controversial). This week has been very interesting.

Last week, after numerous job applications I had my first interview. Yay! By all accounts I did pretty well… got to the last 9 out of 111, but failed at the interview hurdle. I knew where I’d fallen over but rang for feedback anyway…. basically I wasn’t able to talk fluently enough about my past work experience…. well, no, it was 7 years ago….. can you remember what you were up to 7 years ago? I was great on my communications and knowledge of strategy and I knew all about the company I was interviewing for – well I would, wouldn’t I, I’d read about them yesterday… but, blow me down, talking about stuff from a previous life I wasn’t great at. They said I was a hairs breadth away from 2nd interview though, so all is not lost AND they want me to reapply which I will do. Clearly I need to be better prepared, but, given that I really can’t remember the intricate details of the projects I worked on I’m faced with a dilemma: do I semi-fabricate my experience so that I can talk about it fluently? (risky ‘cos it’ll be easy to catch me out) Do I use experience from my 7 years of being a mum to sell myself (after all this is the most challenging job I’ve ever done and I’ve had to employ all sorts of skills to pull it off…. but, somehow I think this might be a risky strategy….. but on the other hand, shouldn’t employers be looking for rounded individuals who can multitask?) or what? (answers in the comment section please…. I really need help here!)

The irony is that this interview was in a sector that I have no experience of whatsoever…. at this juncture perhaps I need to explain myself a bit…. you see I’m a business analyst/strategic consultant, so I could work in any sector where an employer was willing to give me a chance, but therein lies the rub. The above interview was in the public sector where selectors are forced to follow a rigorous and fair process… if you fit the person spec then you get an interview, it’s a question of ticking the boxes and they don’t seem to penalise you when your work experience is in the distant past (at least not at the CV stage). In the sector I used to work in seemingly ALL jobs go through agencies…. so last week I was beginning to suspect that agencies were weeding me out purely on the basis of my “time out”. I’ve been systematically ringing to get feedback from every application but last week was the first time that an agency deemed to speak to me. Yup, my experience matched up but he had candidates who had more recent experience. Brilliant. The one thing I can do nothing about is the thing which is holding me back. Blatent discrimination against mums and dads who opt to look after their kids for any length of time.

So, the upshot is that it still seems that my most likely route back into work is to create a job for myself. On that front, I’m writing a book and considering becoming an MP at the next election should I still not have a job job by then. Seems to me that might be a great platform to shout loud about the vast number of hugely skilled people in the jobless pool who can’t get work because they’ve opted to look after kids for a few years. In the meantime, I trog on in my search for gainful employment. As always, any great offers of gainful employment will be gratefully received.

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9 Responses to Job Hunt IV

  1. Sarah says:

    I hate it when employers ask about what I do on my past work. I find it really unrelated. It’s not like I am going to do the same thing that I will be doing on their company right? Anyways good luck with your job hunt :)

  2. Amy Turner says:

    I found out early in life how difficult it is to land an interview, so it is a feat to land on the top 9 out of 111 aspiring job seekers. Well, the part that asks for what you did on your previous jobs is like a standard question by interviewers. Now you know, it will come out better next time, I’m sure.
    Amy Turner recently posted..Best Credit Card for Young ProfessionalsMy Profile

    • nlpmum says:

      Of course it is and I’d prepared for it, just not in the convoluted way it was asked. I do wish I could talk about my experience during the past 8 years though but I don’t think many employers would’nt look kindly on me talking about the challenges faced as a parent…. even though I reckon a lot of them are highly relevant to the work place.

  3. Diana Alba says:

    I wish you success on your job hunt. It can be really frustrating when the interviewers ask you stuff that is long forgotten, and focus little on your abilities. You will get lucky someday.

  4. Oh, it’s hard, isn’t it! Very best of luck with this. I do think you should mix in talk of being a parent. Chances are, some, if not all of the people interviewing you will also be parents and even with their work head on, will be able to empathise whether they like it or not. As long as you talk about it in a professional manner, saying why the time out and experience over the last few years will make you a more rounded, for example, stronger team player/ leader and quickly getting back to what you can bring to the job personally and professionally, I think it could work to your advantage. If you get chance to prove that you’ve also kept up your skills or are a quick learner, that has got to help too. Hang on in there!
    Jackie Buxton recently posted..Plant pots and holiday nightmaresMy Profile

  5. Mohamed Anan says:

    Hi Fiona,

    I have a similar experience. I was a project manager at the age of 22 and a business coach and a management trainer and consultant at the age of 24! Yes we can work in almost any industry due to our unique skills set.

    I have a small tip for you. I used this exact same tip to land my first 100k job.

    Play the quality game. Not the quantity. I don’t think sending a large number of CVs is productive.

    So make a list of your top preferable employers.

    Now do the following. Exactly

    1) Pick the first one and research the heck outta them. Know everything about their business model, profitability, revenues in the past years, stock prices and their expenses.

    2) Do your JOB! What I did is that I wrote the best analysis I have ever done. highlighting their opportunities and threats to the smallest details.

    3) Offer your very best recommendation. I wrote 10 pages of recommendations! And I backed them whenever I could with statistics and official researches and case studies.

    4) I customize my cv for The job -CV will play a second role to close the deal if you have done the first three steps right you are already winning-

    5) I don’t send emails! there are a 1000 other dude already sent their colourful CVs. And frankly 99% have more experience than me. As a 24 business coach the average business coach here in Egypt was at least 36 years old!! I Can’r and shouldn’t compete with that. So I visit the head office with two copies of my (assessment, CV and Cover letter). I Ask for the name of the direct manager and the HR or the recruitment manager. Write it down on each copy and hand it personally or to the assistant. And I leave.

    Needless to say. I got a call at the same day! Interview the next! Started working next Sunday -Our work week starts Sunday-

    I’ve just beaten much more experienced business coaches : ) Hope this helps with your job search.

    Best of luck.

    -Mohamed

    • nlpmum says:

      Hi Mohamed – That’s great advice. Clearly with the one interview I have had I did really well on the research angle (seems most people don’t seem to think it’s important to know about the company they are interviewing for) the feedback was that I definitely knew my stuff and was a standout on strategy and communications but only my talking about my past experience let me down. You’re right that I need to make myself stand out and your approach is good. We’re in the middle of the school hols at the moment so the job hunt is on hold until September and in the meantime I’m studying your website and Ana’s and I’ve been writing a book and putting together the website to sell it…. hopefully in no time at all I won’t need to be find a job with an employer ;-)

  6. Nick says:

    You’ve had quite an experience. Good luck with your job search.
    Nick recently posted..Who are temporary hiring agencies really helping?My Profile

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