Thursday, March 22, 2007

Going Back to Work

Way back when, when J was born, my mother told me it was not wise to stay home for very long. And, unfortunately, I think she was right.

Last September I decided to go back to work for a variety of reasons. I didn’t share that here, because I was waiting – and waiting and waiting – for a happy ending. Which I knew would come, because I believe in miracles and I have faith you might remember – though I can’t say I wasn’t roundly discouraged on many occasions.

To give you some background, I’m (sort of) qualified to do two things. One of them is be an AMI Montessori Guide for 3-6 year olds. (I’ve never actually been one, but I have the proper education credentials.) The other one is work in mortgage banking. Before I had kids, when I worked in mortgage banking, I thought I might like to be a teacher. I used to like kids. But now, after spending twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week with my own kids, I’m just not that interested in spending the day with other people’s kids. Plus, I have a limited amount of patience (very limited) and I don’t want to use it all up at work and come home “kidded out” and be a meaner mom than I already am. More importantly, (and I say this now especially as a parent) I don’t think people should be teachers just to have a job – I think you should only be a teacher for love of teaching and/or love of children. So I decided not to pursue that as an option. (Though someday when no one here wants to sit on my lap or talk about dinosaurs anymore, I might change my mind.)

So that left mortgage banking and a variety of other things I saw ads for that sounded "kinda cool" -- I applied for about fifty-nine jobs. Fifty-nine! I know, you’re thinking, wow Staci, you must be the biggest loser ever if you couldn’t get anyone to hire you after that many applications. But here’s what happened:

With my first batch of applications/resumes, I attached a cover letter, admitting that I’d been a stay-at-home mom for the past five and a half years. And even though I have eight years of experience in the business (six of them with the same employer), I got called for one interview. One. And was subsequently offered a job -- by a guy who didn’t want to pay me what it would cost to have someone take care of my kids while I worked, and who told me at least sixty-seven times during the interview that he’s “very honest.” (For those unfamiliar, there are a lot of shady people in this business, and that’s a big red flag -- and it wasn't the only red flag I saw during that interview.)

So in the next batch, I decided to gloss over the employment gap and not really address it. I know a job gap is not a plus, but when I didn’t address the reason, I got some requests for interviews (though on the interview I could only fess up or lie – and so I had to fess up). And then another batch of applications (not addressing my job gap) from which I got some interviews. Some called me back to say that they “really liked” me, but they went with someone with more recent experience. One said I’d given a great interview and even though he went with someone with more recent experience, he’d be expanding in February and would really like me to “be part of the team” then.

On and on it went like that. If I got an interview (and often after being called back for a second interview) I was told how much I was liked and that someone else had more recent experience. I applied for a great writing job (in the health industry) and the woman called me back to tell me that the person they hired “wasn’t a better writer than you, and we really thought you’d be a good fit here, but she has experience in the health industry, so we hired her – if she hadn’t applied, we would have offered you the position.”

And I said, “Really? Where does she live?”

Oh, just kidding. I didn’t say that. But I thought it. I was devastated – I had really wanted that job in particular.

I also applied for jobs that seemed interesting and like I might have the skills to do them. And the interview would go something like this:

Them: So Staci, do you have any experience performing brain surgery or any degrees or certifications in brain surgery performance?

Me: Well – no – but I have a degree in History, so I’m sure I could easily figure it out.

No luck.

And then the craziest thing happened. I had gone on a “second interview” (yet again) and was pretty much told they were going to offer me a job – and then they didn’t. And I was exasperated at that point, because I knew that I couldn’t possibly be the worst person out there applying for work. So I decided to call my previous employer. “Are you saying bad things about me when people call you for a reference?” I asked.

And they laughed. And they laughed. And then they said no one had called for a reference. No one. And they said that a lot of mortgage companies are closing their doors here, so the competition is probably pretty stiff and that’s likely the problem I was running into (in other words, I was the worst person applying for work). And then they said, “But we didn’t know you were looking for a job.”

I said, “Why? Do you have an opening?”

And they said, “For you, we do.”

So you see, there’s your proof – I am not the biggest loser ever – and people who know me, know that – even if it’s not apparent to the casual observer.

And then they said they need someone to do marketing, which is a different job than I used to do for them, and I said, “No problem – I can easily figure it out.”

And it worked! Because they’ve actually seen me “figure it out” many, many times.

And saving the best for last, I convinced them that they really need a real estate blog as part of their overall marketing plan – and that I should write it. (I promised not to write about boobs or anything else unseemly.) So now the past six months don't seem quite so annoying. To top it all off, the company who had said they wanted to hire me “in the future” finally called – on my first day of work. When it rains it pours, as they say. But I couldn’t be more pleased with what I already have – unless it was a book deal.

So that’s my story. There’s more actually – more of the emotional, mommy guilt, the difficulty and expense of finding childcare, and other stuff like that, that I’m still trying to wrap my brain around and organize my thoughts on paper. But now I need to get some sleep – I have a lot of “figuring it out” to do in the morning!


Jan B said...

I am so glad that you found a spot and it will be something that you are already comfortable with, so less of a transition. Sounds like it was meant to be.

I can't wait to read your work blog. Good luck!

Undercover Angel said...

Congratulations!! It's a good thing you called, or you might never have known! I think it's so great that you are going back to your old company, and it will look great on your resume down the road...

Devra said...

Great news about the new job! Your offspring will be proud of their mom and what she can accomplish and they will learn all about being flexible too as your family adjusts to the new pattern. Over time you will find your groove and the mommy guilt will should ebb a bit. However, if you are finding the mommy guilt isn't going away, come find me. I'll absolve you!

Melissa said...

Hooray, hooray, hooray for you! I'm so glad it all worked out-- and especially glad you're not working for the skeevy red flag guy.

landismom said...

Congrats! I'm glad it has worked out. It's nice when people who know your work offer you a chance to grow.

cce said...

Now you should feel really, really good about yourself. And, don't worry that you've made me feel really, really bad about myself...just kidding but damn. What the hell am I doing with my life besides entertaining a few people with m blog? I've gotta get a job but the problem is I'm still recovering from the exhaustion and the IBS I developed when running my own Landscape Architecture firm and mothering two. Can't say I miss it but I sure do miss the cash!

Her Bad Mother said...

Good, good, good for you! And, yay!

rivergirlie said...

extremely well done you! don't focus on the logistical problems now - you might as well wait for them to rear their ugly heads - accentuate the positive. brilliant news!

Anjali said...

That's fabulous news, Staci. And more importantly, now I won't feel like such a loser if after 59 job applications, I don't get any offers.

Incidentally, there's a real estate blog I really like. I'll email you the link to give you some ideas.

Pendullum said...

Good for you!!!!
I am so happy for you!!!
Looking forward to reading all about it!!!
We're all rooting for you!!!

Megster67 said...

Good for you. I'm returning to work after 2+ years off, and I actually called my former employer FIRST. I did not have to send out any resumes; they had an opening for me (I'm an HR consultant). So much easier than explaining the whys and what-fors of your hiatus. So congrats!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information