Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Please Don't "Take it Like a Mom"

I'm a huge fan of Forbes Girl Friday blog, and loved the content of this week's post. But the title- Should Overwhelmed Working Women Ask for Help or "Take it Like a Mom?" is maybe the silliest question I've heard all day. That's like asking a drowning person if they wouldn't mind using a life raft.

I've blogged in the past about these exact themes, that just because you can do it all doesn't mean you should, that you should put down your cape Super Mom, that you must make time for yourself. But how, as Forbes Girl Friday Meghan Casserly points out, can you do that if you are working on average 11 more hours per week than your parents did in the 1970s AND spending on average 12 hours more per week with your children than your partners? It stands to reason the stress levels are sky-rocketing.

Bottom Line: Ask for Help.
  • Engage your partner: According to a recent study by Boston College, the majority of Dads want to be more involved in home life and parenting. So let them. Play to their strengths, give them a job, and don't criticize the end-result.
  • Build Your Village: Whether's it's something like the Bus Stop Meal Swap I put together with the other 3 moms of 3 on my block or an involved grandparent or the Dads in your carpool, put together your support system. Do for them what you will need for you: kid pickups when a work meeting runs late, an errand by your office, meals when you're sick.
  • Investigate Flexible Work Options: Flexible work options come in all shapes and sizes and every organization and every employee has different needs and tolerance levels. Find the match between the two parties. Even telecommuting one day per week in the Washington, D.C. metro area will give you back, on average, 2 hours. Imagine what you can do in TWO WHOLE HOURS!
Super Mom is possible but it's not hot.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summertime Job Search

The 100+ degree temps last week, school's out for the big kids next Tuesday and I have a dozen swim team emails in my InBox. It's true. Summer is here. What does this mean for your job search?

Every summer, and Momentum Resources is going into it's fourth now, we anticipate a summer slow down in hiring. And every August we say, Gee, we've been really busy the last few months! Particularly as we continue through economic recovery, employers' hiring needs don't just go away as the temperatures rise.

Here's what you need to know for an effective summertime job search:
  • Still Active? Firstly, if you're going to take a break from an active search during the summer, you need to let everyone in your process know. This includes companies you've been talking to, your advocates and recruiters- namely, us! The worst thing that could happen is I call you with a dream job and you say no, I'm sorry, I don't have any summer care lined up for my kids and we're taking a 3 week trip to the Cape. That makes us look bad to our clients and hurts your longer-term employment success. Enjoy the time at the Cape, just let us know where things stand.
  • Scheduling! Whereas we don't predict in decline in the pace of the hiring market, we can -based on past performance- predict scheduling h-e-double hockey sticks. Between candidate's travel and hiring manager's travel, it can take a month to get a darned interview SCHEDULED. That's not to say you should cancel plans for a potential interview, but if you are deep in the hiring process with an organization, let them know when you're expected to be out of town and let them know how they can reach out. If you're still in a very active search and in vacation planning mode, consider some long weekends and partial weeks in lieu of a 2-3 week holiday to make scheduling easier.
  • Network, of course. As the business pace slows in some organizations, it's the perfect time for you to reconnect with former colleagues and expand your professional network. Use the well-honed Folsom strategy of taking someone for coffee (captive audience, 30 minutes, $10-- works every time) and asking about their career, how they got the flexibility they wanted, into the organization they wanted, etc.
And if you have to be on the pool deck with a swim team timer in your hand, might as well network there, too!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Just Say No

Parents, it's time we just said no to the end-of-school year madness. All of you pre-Labor-Day-school-starters sitting on the pool deck in a lounge chair or already on your beach vacation, tuck away that smug grin and remember back to the last few weeks. All of that schedule insanity, was it worth it?

One of the most rewarding things we do at Momentum Resources is help our candidates get jobs that are flexible enough for them to volunteer in the classroom, attend an 11am preschool graduation ceremony or assist with Field Day. But just because you can do that every day, doesn't mean you should.

After a weekend of activities that nearly killed me (and put the whole family in a stressed-out, tense, over-tired mood.....weren't weekends supposed to be restorative?) I put my foot down.
To take control over the last two weeks of school I:
  • Told the swim team coach we'd show up in two weeks when lacrosse post-season play was over. One sport at a time has always been a rule in our house, this was no time to break it.
  • Called the preschool director to see if my 3 year old's presence at a 7pm Year End Program was really required. It wasn't-- he has a supporting role for Pre-K graduation) Beginning after his bedtime and at a time when his brothers had sports practice, it just wasn't a good idea for us.
  • Had the older boys each pick one of the daily year-end "fun activities" (field day, beach reading day, paper airplane contest day) for Mom to attend. Dad had covered the last two cultural days, I was teed up for this one. But that's one, not 5 daily activities. As my dear business partners reminded me, we're going to have a LOT more time together this summer!
  • Relax about school projects. Grades are due Friday, my child's end-product on a school project in the next 2 weeks is not going to make or break his chances at admission to Harvard. Try hard, enjoy it, learn something from it.
After all, isn't that what this whole school, learning and parenting thing's about anyway?

PS Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, feel one iota of guilt about these decisions.