Monday, July 13, 2009

Defining Your Search & Setting Expectations

So you've decided that it is time to get back into the “outside” workforce…Note that I do not say “real” work force because we all know the hardest and most real job there out there is being a stay-at-home parent. So, again, you have decided to get back to work outside the home. The most effective way to start is define the parameters of your search to give yourself direction and purpose that will help guide you through the crossroads you will ultimately encounter. By asking your self some questions (some simple, some not-so-simple) in the areas of purpose, scheduling and earning potential you will have parameters in which to measure your progress and, ultimately, your success in landing the next role.

What is your purpose in getting back to work? What are you looking to accomplish?

This is a pivotal question to ask yourself. The answer will give you a barometer in which to compare potential opportunities to help you determine does the position at hand meet your objective at what you are looking to accomplish.

- Do you need some extra income? If so, how much?

- Are you looking to resume your career?

- Are you looking to just get out of the house and diversify your day?

- Are you looking to do a specific tasks/function that you enjoy doing or develop a skill?

- Are you looking to give back to the community?

- Are you looking to learn something new or explore a new industry?

In the beginning, this is absolutely crucial. Having these answers will help you determine if the job you are considering or applying for meets your needs and will help you answer interview questions more confidently and concisely. Frankly, it helps you stay focused and focus on the jobs and activities that will support your purpose. If you used to be a high powered marketing executive in your past life, been home with your children for 5 years, but now just want to work part-time to make extra money, then you do not need to apply to Marketing Director roles. O r if you do apply, you do not need to be slighted that you did not get a call back---that type of role does not fit your purpose.

What parameters do you need to work within? What possibilities exist?

When I started my career in recruiting, I did not have children and I had a husband who worked 80+ hours a week as a restaurant chef. As a result, I was able to work as many hours as I wanted at work in the office and take my work home with me, if I chose---and often did. I now have 2 children (5 & 7) and a former stay-at-home husband who has returned to the outside work force, so now I need to take on the inside work duties he has done for so many years. I need to work within certain parameters based on the obligations in my life. Some parameters and possibilities for each of you to consider jobs exist around your skill set are:

- Scheduling (child drop off and pick up at school and activities)

- Scheduling assistance possibilities – can someone help us with this either through family, bartering with another family or a paid resource (childcare, nannies, after care programs)

- Family time consideration – when am I home and what quality time am I allowing for my family

- Shift Work – what can me or my spouse do be done where one is working at night and one is working during the day to always have a parent with a child? When do we spend time together as a couple?

- Are you looking for and able to work full-time or part-time?

How much do you need to make?

Notice here I say need to make...not want. Now you can also have a secondary goal of what you want, but in this challenging market I caution you to be realistic based on your skill set, but not to sell yourself short. Ask yourself:

- Does what I need to make correspond with what the jobs utilizing my skill set are paying?

- Do I need to shore up any of my skills with additional training or an entry-level role to help me ultimately transition into the role I want?

- Does the extra income I am bringing into the household exceed the additional expenses incurred to get back to work?

Getting back to the outside workforce can be a challenge in a decent hiring market and a downright battle in this economic environment. Answer these questions honestly and you’ll be in a much better position to focus your job search in a very crowded market.

Lisa Rangel, principal at Chameleon Resumes, brought you these resume tips. Check out her website for other great tips and return-to-work strategies. Lisa brings more than 13 years of recruiting experience to YOU, helping you to write and tailor your resume and build a job search strategy from the perspective a future hiring manager. Check it out!