Sometimes mothers get trapped in the maze of expectations we have put on them, you know what I mean? The “battle” between stay-at-home moms, work-at-home moms, and work-away-from-home moms almost seems like a marketing ploy to get you to buy magazines or books. Seriously, though. The industry puts so much pressure on women to be EVERYTHING. This is a topic close to my heart as I am a working mother of young, but-getting-bigger-by-the-minute-just-ask-them children. The truth is that every family has to crunch the numbers, decide what their priorities need to be, and ignore the critics who disagree with their choices. It helps when you have asked the questions that matter and come up with your best shot at an answer.
Why do you want to go back to work? Are we talking money, fear of losing your career gains, or mental/adult stimulation (I get that part, for sure!)? Or something else? Clarifying your reasons helps you address the problems you want to solve. It also may help you figure out creative solutions that can look different than your pre-baby job.
How much will it cost to go back to work? Nobody can answer that for sure. You have to take your own paycheck and benefits then subtract child care, wardrobe, commuting expenses, lunches, convenience foods (you know you will be getting more of those) and whatever else might apply. The number you have left is what you have to work with for bills. Is it enough to be worth the extra effort and stress?
How old are your kids? I know it feels like you are trapped in the house of diapers, but these years really do go by fast. My youngest just turned eight. How can that be? Think about the costs of daycare. Can you hold out until they are in school if child care costs are prohibitive? Do you have a good source for child care that you are comfortable with? Perhaps another stay-at-home mom would consider watching your children.
Can you start out part time or work from home? This is often a good transition for the family. It helps everyone figure out how things will work when Mom is gone or unavailable. If you decide to become a work-at-home mom, be prepared for the reality of working from home. You will cut the costs of working at an office, but you will have to discipline yourself from throwing in another load of laundry, or sitting down to watch, “Ellen”. You will also have to consider that your children will still think you are “mom”, and will take quite some time to get them to understand you are working. Are they old enough to keep themselves busy for a full day? Will you have a nanny, or other in-home care on the days when you have to be on calls or in a virtual meeting?
There is no “perfect” solution to the question of going back to work because there is no “perfect” family or job. Whatever you decide, there will be some rough patches. But that is life, right? We have to look at the facts about where things stand, acknowledge the emotions that are part of those facts, and decide what to do for right now. It helps a lot when the inevitable rough patches or criticism comes to have thought through the questions and clarified why you have made this choice for your family’s best interests.
When you work from home, most of the impression you make with business contacts is online. Most of the way you get your paycheck is online, too, unless you make something to sell at a market somewhere. But even in that case, how are they finding your booth at the market? Do your customers ask if you are on Etsy or a similar online format?
If you honestly evaluate your work-from-home plans, they are going to include your online brand. Online branding is the catch-phrase for “everything anybody can find about you on the internet and the way it makes you look to the world.”
People who work from home, particularly if they are freelancers, need to pay attention to their online brand because it affects their business. People who work from home for a company need to pay attention to their online brand because it affects the way they are seen by their employer. The bottom line is, your online brand is worth investing in because it means money.
Our premium LinkedIn Profile Development services include online branding and profile development coaching. That means it will be customized advice for your particular situation, giving you the tools to use the internet to your advantage. You get an hour of personal coaching, a usage guideline, and a filled-in template to make it easy to deal with profiles as you increase your professional presence online.
In a way, everyone that works from home is involved with marketing themselves because people don’t have an accurate picture of what you do. Your online brand should be one way to show them that accurate picture and get the respect you deserve.
One of the ways to improve your online brand is by being active online in ways that focus on your professional arena. You can start out by using search engines to find news in your field, but you can also find niche communities of your peers and connect on social media sites like LinkedIn, Google+, and Facebook.
Once you have some professional places to hang out on the web it’s a good idea to start interacting with others on those sites. Make intelligent comments on blog posts, have discussions that are courteous, and always have a link back to your own blog under your name. Be the opposite of a troll. This gives you a wide audience of people who view you favorably and probably will be interested in visiting your blog to see if there is more good stuff to be found.
When they come to your blog, have some good stuff there. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds:
- link to content that you found helpful and make some comments then ask for opinions
- write a short (250-500 word) post every few days about something in your field
- have a mix of news items and evergreen content that is always useful
If you do a little bit every day, it slowly builds up into an impressive, authoritative presence that gives weight to your online brand. When potential employers look you up online, you look good. Many people actually are hired based on internet activity that created a relationship and developed respect for the knowledge displayed. The job offer came as a result of the added authority of their online presence.
If you decide you need professional help for your online brand, we offer online branding/profile development coaching that just might be what you are looking for.
Have you ever really looked at blueprints? We had our own experience with them last year when we expanded our office. They can make most people’s eyes glaze over, but those professional schematic drawings are the reason buildings don’t fall down, plumbing works efficiently, and electric outlets are located where you want to plug in your hair dryer. Professional plans mean that using the hairdryer in the bathroom doesn’t blow a circuit because the wiring is sufficient for the task.
Professionals use the training and experience they possess to create building plans that will safely accommodate the activity anticipated there. If there needs to be a remodel, professionals know how to do the adaptations successfully. That same level of expertise applies to a lot of other areas in life, don’t you think? How about your career plans?
Your career is certainly as important as the building you live in, and should be planned with as much expertise. There are many good suggestions for career plans to be discovered by reading blogs and doing the research, and that is a good place to start. Many people live quite happily in buildings designed for the general population and you do the equivalent with your career by following the general advice you read from professionals.
But a custom home involves blueprints drawn up by experts with input from the home owner to ensure that every aspect of that home is perfect for the people living there. This could mean shorter counters, a special sewing room, or bathrooms with enough outlets and load capabilities to run a couple of hair dryers at the same time while listening to music. The blueprints would show those specifics: lower counter heights, cabinets for sewing materials, and a bathroom that won’t go dark when the hair dryer comes on.
Your career plans can be customized by working with an expert, a career coach who is qualified to draw up a blueprint for your job goals and help you figure out what needs to be on the plan.
By now, I hope you have heard of Heartbleed, that notorious bug that has been infiltrating “secure” sites for the last two years and quietly stealing information without a trace. It’s ugly, but it also is a good reminder that there will always be some hacker out there trying to get past everyone’s guard. Neil Rubenking at SecurityWatch says the fallout of Heartbleed is the need for everyone to change every one of their passwords.
“Your secure sites fall in to three categories, those that are still vulnerable, those that were vulnerable in the past, and those that were never vulnerable. It’s absolutely essential to change your password on those that were vulnerable in the past. It couldn’t hurt to change those that seem like they were never vulnerable, especially because you can’t be sure. As for those that remain vulnerable, you’re going to have to change those again, but by making a clean sweep now and ensuring you have no duplicate passwords, you’ll make that second round of password updates easier.”
I recommend you read the article and do what this security expert suggests, go back to all sites you have joined and change your passwords or close your account there. I did this myself last night. Most security experts change their own passwords regularly anyhow, and if the security guy does it, the rest of us should think about doing it. Better safe than sorry.
If you’ve been searching for a job or have done so online in the past (think: job boards, online career centers, professional development sites, etc.), there may be some sites you joined in hopes of a job lead. It’s a good idea to have a unique password for each site anyway, but depending on how much information you gave on the site, that might be a place to critically examine for security risk. We need to be careful of online resume submissions because identity theft is growing, partly due to sophisticated bugs like Heartbleed that siphon off encrypted data like login credentials and security keys.
The photo you use for your profile on social media and professional sites is prime real estate. This is the face of your online brand, right? This picture is what comes up on an internet search by a potential employer, colleagues looking at your LinkedIn profile, and networking contacts. People are normally visually-oriented, and that profile pic is what their eyes go to first. So why waste that advantage?
- No profile pic at all is like saying you don’t care — so why should they care?
- Using a logo markets that logo, not your career
- Poorly lit, grainy photos don’t say much about your professionalism
- Selfies rarely look like anything but selfies (and please, NO FISH LIPS!)
- Wild party profile pics look like HR nightmares
- Your kid is cute, but they aren’t hiring your baby. The sames goes with pics of you and your significant other. Don’t use those for your professional pic–unless you co-own a business together and are building your brand based off of that
- Using a different profile pic for each site weakens the impact of your brand
If you want to maximize the potential of your profile pic, think seriously about what it looks like and where you put it.
Having the same photograph as the face of your online brand on all your profiles; LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc. gives you consistency. People associate consistency with reliability, and that instant recognition of your photo acts as a logo for your brand. But the photograph itself also matters quite a bit, so it should be excellent. You can set up proper lighting and background then use a timer, but it generally will work much better if a photographer friend takes your picture or you opt for a professional session.
Background should reflect your industry or be a color flattering to you. Lighting should come from several sources to avoid weird shadow effects (this is why self-portraits rarely work well) and smiling is more appealing than a deadpan mug shot. You should be dressed the way you would be at a job interview and look professional. It’s a good idea to renew your profile pics once a year so they are current.
Your online brand is a combination of everything someone like a potential employer can find about you on the internet. Your profile pic is the face of your online brand, and profile development should include making sure you aren’t wasting its potential.
Have you ever gone past a series of modern windmills? I just did recently-they were amazing. At first, they don’t look real. Then as you get closer, they begin to loom in jaw-dropping proportions because they are huge. These gigantic pinwheels are carefully placed to catch the wind in the best spots available. A lot of study goes into how tall they need to be, where they should be located, and which direction they should face. This is because they are very expensive to manufacture and install so they need to be where they will catch the most wind and generate the most power. Why would anybody put this expensive piece of technology in a random spot because it is easier? No matter how well the windmill is constructed, it will not do what it’s designed to do if it’s not in the right place.
A well-crafted resume is the result of a similar type of investment. Just like the modern windmill, they are carefully designed and can be expensive to create. So why distribute that resume in a random pattern because it is easier? If your resume is not being put in the right place, it will not be able to do what it’s designed to do.
Professional Resume Services has the ability to put your resume in the place where it will be most effective through our Recruiter Resume Distributions. Since we maintain a database that is updated weekly, we know which recruiters are working in the various industries out there and we can specifically target your unique preferences and project parameters. We will only put your resume where it will act like one of those high-tech pinwheels and generate the most energy for your career goals.
Among the rest of the things you need to do before that job interview, looking at your credit report is up there in priority. Actually, your credit is something you should be in the habit of checking several times a year. Here’s why it should be done before that job interview:
- The Fair Credit Reporting Act is the federal law covering the whole issue. This link is to a pdf of the law. It’s a little overwhelming.
- According to Workplace Fairness, it boils down to the fact that if an employer asks and gets your written permission, they can do a credit check any time after that, even if you have been employed for a while.
- If there is something negative in your credit report, and they decide that is reason not to hire you (or reason to fire you), the federal law doesn’t have any remedies for it even if the report is inaccurate. Some states have laws covering this area.
- If you are rejected for a job based “in whole or in part” on a negative credit report, the employer has to follow guidelines laid out in the law: give you a copy of that report, and written instructions on challenging the accuracy of the report (like handing you a brochure like “A Summary of Your Rights Under The FCRA” by the FTA).
- Employment Background Checks are a fact of life in the US, so the Federal Trade Commission monitors them. This link is to their page explaining things in a quick summary.
- If you have been keeping up on your credit report monitoring, you are already prepared to explain any negative things on that report. You are familiar with the way it all works because you’ve been consistently learning about it. So you aren’t being hit with a bunch of unfamiliar stuff and you are ready.
Honestly, if you aren’t paying attention to things like your credit report, you are kind of like the guy who puts his dollar bills in a pile and gets surprised when they disappear in the wind. He is making the mistake of thinking a minor detail won’t affect much. It’s really important these days because identity theft happens to anybody and that regular credit check will let you know it happened to you.
Professional Resume Services has covered credit checks along with a lot of other topics on this blog. You can poke around in the archives and get a lot of information! Best of all, you’ll see a little popup (Let’s Talk!) that gives you a chance to ask questions and get answers.
Sometimes, you find yourself in the unenviable category of “overqualified” candidates when applying for a job. If you are interested in a position that you overqualify for, take a proactive stance and answer some common interviewer’s questions before they are asked.
- Answer “why are you applying for a job you overqualify for?” in your cover letter. Maybe you want to have a less demanding position because you have decided family time is more important than working 70 hours a week. Along with that, make sure you state that you highly appreciate being able to have a job that allows you to use your skills and work fewer hours. Another scenario is the person who has found they really enjoy the challenges of the lower level job and has decided they do not want to move up.
- Answer “won’t you move on to another opening as soon as one shows up?” with a resume that has highlighted the skills and experience you bring to the job, how those skills meet the job requirements, and some questions of your own during the interview that show your interest will be ongoing.
- Answer “how will you react to a younger supervisor and new technology?” by relating instances in your career where you worked successfully with all ages, and the technology trends you have kept up with or are currently learning how to use.
- Answer “what if we can’t pay you what you were making before?” by being prepared to discuss salary and a firm grasp of what you will accept, even if it is less. You may very well be working for less than you made before, but if the job is one you enjoy, that is worth more than dollars.
The cover letter and resume for an “overqualified” job seeker need to be fine-tuned to answer some of the questions satisfactorily and get you the interview where you can discuss the rest. If you are not sure how to do this, perhaps our coaching services would be a good investment. A Certified Career Coach can work with you one-on-one to strategize your job search effectively, and transform being “overqualified” into an asset that gets you that interview.
Sometimes, all that is keeping you out of a c-level career is your online brand. Other times, it is your resume. Often, it is both!
If it has been years since you tried to find another position, you need to understand that things have really changed. You may be great at the face-to-face networking that is an essential asset, but online social networking might not be high on your list of things to do. This is a mistake, because today, the people who are vetting job candidates are looking online. If you do not have a strong presence, you aren’t on their radar.
Why, some ask, would a c-level executive professional decide to hire someone else to write a resume or develop an online brand? Wouldn’t the fact they are capable of planning the strategic infrastructure of a Fortune 500 company and negotiate multi-million dollar partnerships mean they can do this themselves?
Leadership professionals usually will rely on a professional resume writer and other professional services because they are used to outsourcing tasks that require high levels of expertise. There’s a skill to the complexity of assessing career progression and leveraging data to create a personal marketing campaign. Only the highest quality of a complete Executive Resume Package yields results by positioning you to get the job you want.
For many of those who have busy working in their current positions and not paying attention to the new demands in the job market, it’s good to add the discounted Executive Recruiter Distribution or Online Branding Power Package. Whether or not you need them can be determined during the initial consultation — an hour of strategic consultation that includes discussing branding.