HIRED! 5 Keys to Getting my Job

I am thrilled to share that I have been HIRED!!

As I mentioned in my interview questions post, I have been looking for a job for about six months.  I’ve interviewed three to four times with a few companies, while others ended after one phone interview.  AT LAST I found a job that is a great fit for me both professionally and personally!  It is a part-time marketing management role for a small business that is located only about 25 minutes from my house.  I am very excited to get out of the house two days a week (and send the kids to “school” a.k.a daycare), and still have three days at home with the kids.  It really is the best of both worlds! Without further ado, here are the details on how I was hired.

5 Keys to Getting my Job

1. Be honest & open – I was extremely nervous about explaining the year gap in my resume, when I was staying at home with my children.  A friend once said, “Well, just tell employers what you were doing, and if they don’t like it, then you wouldn’t want to work there anyway.”  She was spot-on with this comment!  And chances are you are NOT the only parent that is employed at the company, though sometimes it may feel like you are blazing your own trail!

I was careful in explaining that I returned to work after having my second child, but left due to the long commute and wanting to stay home with both children while they were so young.  After my son reached one year, and I had the opportunity to do some consulting work, I realized that I missed the professional interaction and development.  This led me to take eMarketing classes online and some additional consulting work that again re-affirmed that I wanted to work outside of the home.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask – There were very FEW official part-time marketing roles that were being posted, so I did participate in the recruitment process for several full-time roles. Knowing that flex hours would be important to me, I asked about the “flexible work environment” mentioned on the job description during a phone screening call with HR. I was pleased to learn that this particular company offered flex time, meaning you had to be at work during core hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but could schedule your 40 hours as needed (and according to your job’s requirements).  I was impressed and certainly wasn’t penalized for asking that question early on in the process.

In my new job, my boss has provided the flexibility for me to set my own hours as long as I’m there for the Monday morning meeting.  With a little schedule juggling at day care, I will eventually work Monday – Tuesday from 8 a.m. till 4 p.m., giving me enough time to pick up the kids and get dinner going at a reasonable time.  YAY!

3. Be prepared –  I tailored my resume and cover letter to highlight experience and skills mentioned in the job description, showcasing accomplishments in three areas of direct marketing, event planning, and online projects.  This helped me past the first hurdle and led to an hour long phone interview and subsequent face-to-face meetings.  To prepare for these conversations, I researched the company, industry, and came armed with numerous interview questions and several marketing ideas. Being prepared with ideas was key in showing that I was truly interested and motivated to help their business grow.

4. Timing is everything! I tapped into my network to hopefully get some inside info on new opportunities, but ultimately I reacted to job posting in my search. After applying to a job, I could not control how quickly a company would respond to my application – if they chose to respond at all.  I played the waiting game and was rejected too.  Some companies had to wait several weeks or months due to budget issues or simply the time of year in responding.  When I finally received an email or call, I had to dig back through my job search folder and emails to remember the job opening!  I did have time on my side, waiting for the right opportunity, while still working as a stay-at-home-mom.

I actually was interviewing for my part-time job and a full-time job with a flexible working environment at the same time.  The day I received my offer for the part-time job, I was contacted for a second round of face-to-face interviews for the full-time job.  After some soul searching and talking it over with my husband, I needed to choose the opportunity that was best for me and my family.

5. Do what makes you happy – When I reflected on both potential jobs (though I only had one offer at this time), I considered which job would make me more happy.  The part-time arrangement AND the industry were more fun and interesting than the full-time position. Ultimately, I chose what would make me happiest!

In your own experience, what are the keys to getting hired?

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The BEST Interview Questions

Since I’ve been actively searching for jobs and interviewing for about 6 months, I thought I’d share some of the best interview questions that I ask prospective employers almost every time. I often try to personalize the questions as much as possible based on my pre-interview research.

General Questions

  1. How long has this position been vacant?
  2. How would you describe the company’s structure?
  3. How would you describe the company’s culture?
  4. How does this role interact with other departments?
  5. How long have you worked for this company?

Hiring Manager Questions

  1. What do you see as the biggest challenge for this role?
  2. What are the most important responsibilities for this role?
  3. Is there a typical day in this job, and if so, what does it look like?
  4. What is your vision for the company / department?
  5. Could you provide an example of projects for the areas outlined in the job description?
  6. Describe your management style.
  7. What excites you about coming to work each day?
  8. How do you evaluate performance?
  9. What are your short term / long term goals for this position?
  10. What are specific skills that are important to be successful on this job?

Colleague Questions

  1. Tell me about your role here.
  2. How will this position affect you?  Your group / department?
  3. What do you enjoy most about your job?
  4. What do you least like about your job?
  5. What types of issues are considered critical by your manager?

What do you think of this list?  What’s your favorite interview question?

Stay tuned for future posts on my job search!

 

Clawing my Way Back to Work

A fellow mom recently told me that she had to “claw her way back into the workforce” after spending several years staying home with her two children.

Wow.  That seemed a little harsh to me. I’m sure I won’t have to claw my way back to work….or at least I HOPE that won’t be the case.

Yet it seems that everywhere I look, I seem to find discouragement.  In a New York Times Op Ed – “Why Gender Equality Stalled” by Stephanie Coontz there are sobering statistics:

“One study cautioned that nearly 30 percent of opt-out moms who wanted to rejoin the labor force were unable to do so, and of those who did return, only 40 percent landed full-time professional jobs. In “The Price of Motherhood,” the journalist Ann Crittenden estimated that the typical college-educated woman lost more than $1 million dollars in lifetime earnings and forgone retirement benefits after she opted out.”

In my own experience thus far, I have been rejected in two cases because I was overqualified and too expensive for the salary range that was being considered.  I suggested part-time employment at that same salary, but that offer was not seriously considered.  Ugh…

Why aren’t workplaces more mom-friendly?  Why isn’t there more flexibility?  EVERYONE – moms, dads, children, adults with aging parents, or even people with pets would benefit from a results-oriented workplace that offered more flexibility.   Previously I wrote about the Results Only Work Environment in a post about looking for a lateral move instead of a vertical career move.

As it currently stands, it may be difficult making that lateral move or finding a part time role, leaving me to reach for that next rung on the corporate ladder.  I’m afraid this will mean more hours and much more stress – unless I find something that I LOVE to do and can find a way to balance it all on the go. I’m still optimistic that something is out there!

Can career dreams and kids coincide?

This question was recently posed and discussed in a post by Breadwinning Mama.  I think you CAN and SHOULD still have your dreams, but the pursuit of such dreams may need to slow down a bit when you have children.  As I continue to stay at home and be entertained by my two beautiful children during 12 – 14 hour days, I’ll still hold fast to my career goals while trying to claw my way back to work.

 

Getting Rejected

Rejection emails suck.  It’s like getting dumped via text, Facebook status or email, except there was never a two way relationship with the prospective employer (unless you count the hot and heavy interaction I had with the faceless job application tool).

I remember receiving rejection letters when I was a senior in college, vying for a limited number of available marketing jobs in an unfavorable economic climate (hmmm, sound familiar?). I at least appreciated the personalized letter on company letterhead that cost the company postage.  It felt more official, even though I was still getting dumped for another candidate. In some cases where I wasn’t hearing back from a prospective employer after the interview, I’d follow up with a phone call to learn companies’ budgets had changed, and they could no longer hire the position for which I’d interviewed.  Bummer, but it was the company – not me – that had done something wrong.  When I ended up landing a great job with a Fortune 500 company one month after graduation, all the rejection letters were quickly forgotten.  Who wants to remember getting rejected after all?!

Fortunately since that first job out of college, I have only received job offers from three other companies, resulting in accepting two of those offers for actual employment that lasted several years.  I have been lucky, and I’d like to think that my education and experience prepared me for such “luck” in the working world.  Still, in eight years since college graduation, receiving a notice of rejection via letter or email DOES hurt. Maybe it’s my ego that’s a little bruised, thinking my resume has “MOM” written all over it, and I’ll never find another job again.  This is a bit dramatic, I know.  Overall I should be proud of my lifetime job hunting and working track record.  From the first babysitting gig and life guarding, to marketing internships and full time sales and marketing roles, I’ve gained a lot of experience and knowledge, while meeting some truly wonderful people in the process.   Even as I’m writing this, I have some consulting work to do, not to mention two adorable kiddos to get to bed.  Motherhood calls….and that’s a job that will keep paying me in hugs and kisses for the rest of my life.   I guess rejection isn’t so bad right now.

Becoming a SAHM

They say God sometimes speaks in whispers, and I would have to agree.  Though it is sometimes hard to really listen when you are so busy living life as an employee, wife, mom, sister, daughter and friend.  After going back to work for two months after maternity leave, I finally heard some of these whispers, which ultimately led to my new job as a stay at home mom.

A Christmas breakthrough

Seeing our friends and family at Christmas was wonderful.  I love Christmas, and sharing its magic and family traditions with a 2 year old and an infant is so precious. My family returned home after a whirlwind of festivities, and I remember nursing my son in front of our Christmas tree that night and breaking down crying.  I thought, “I don’t think I meant it when I told all of our relatives that I like being back at work. Here I have this sweet baby boy, and I am missing all of this time with him by going to a job that is not fulfilling. What am I doing?”

A few more weeks

At daycare my son wasn’t drinking much milk from his bottles and wasn’t in the best sleep schedule. When he came down with a cold, he stopped eating altogether. I left work late-morning that Friday to come to his rescue! I couldn’t continue working if my son wasn’t going to eat for eight full hours!  After some more soul searching and conversations with my family, I determined that it was time to leave the working world and become the SAHM or CEO of our home.