Grads and Moms: Tips for Landing a Great Job
Searching for a job is exhausting and sometimes, defeating, but it doesn't need to be. Here is my advice for stay-at-home moms and soon-to-be college grads looking to land a great job.
Remember when you thought you knew everything? What was that, yesterday? Back in the old days when it was time for me to get my first “real job”, I sort of fell into it. I was lucky to be at the right place, at the right time and I’m a talker, so…. things just sort of happened. And, thank God for that, because I knew NOTHING. Before I knew it, I had bypassed the interview and was set up with a desk, a client list and an MCI calling card (for those of you who know what I am talking about, congrats, you’re as old as me). I had the world on a string!
I am frequently approached to give advice on job searches and I give it freely. You see, I stayed home with my kids for over 10 years and didn’t do any traditional work outside of the home. Fast-forward to a divorce and college for the little darlings, and a return to work was necessary. It was tough. I hadn’t really prepped myself to dive back in—my skills were rusty, and it was much, much harder to land something meaningful this time around. Ironic that this was the first time in my adult life that I NEEDED a job, and needed it desperately. My own story will come in a later post, but I think it’s important for those of us who have landed in their dream careers to be mentors to those who haven’t found it yet.
Most people who contact me for job advice fall into 2 categories: They are either friends of my children who are embarking on their “first job” or they are like I was, a stay-at-home mom who needs to get back into the workforce for one reason or another. Here are some tips for both of these types of job-seekers:
1) Clean up your profile pictures. OK, so here is the deal. You have plenty of time to show your level of hip AFTER you land the interview. For me, it’s a deal-breaker to have anything less than a clean, professional looking picture. Depending on the industry, your picture can convey your ability to be a culture fit, but do not be fooled. You need to demonstrate you know what appropriate business communication looks like. A picture is just an extension of this knowledge that your future employer needs to see you have mastered. I’m not saying you need to look like a Brooks Brothers ad, but be clean, have a nice smile, clothing that fits, and is appropriate for the business at hand.
2) Clean up your social media. We all have opinions. There is no need to share your opinion and spark debate everyday on social media. Keep it to a minimum. You have no idea who is looking and guess what? Your future employer is checking you out. You can’t be a liability on that front.
3) Be respectful of people’s time. This goes for an interview, a call, any part of the process. Show up on time. On time is, by the way, a few minutes early. I hate to be so blunt, but if you are a stay-at-home mom re-entering the workforce, no one will care that your child needed something that made you late. Look, it happens to me once a week, but I am not trying to be hired by anyone. PLAN AHEAD. Likely you will be looking for an employer who is family-focused and these things won’t affect your position AFTER you are hired. However, remember, your future boss needs to see you can get it done. YOU CAN GET IT DONE. You just have to have safeguards in place so you are on-time and focused.
4) Have someone help you with your resume. If you are reading this, please reach out to me. Though I am not a professional resume writer, I do see a lot of them. I can make suggestions and if necessary, point you in the direction of someone who can help you further. Let your guard down and allow people to help you.
5) Think about your relevant non-work experience. Were you the captain of your sports team? PTA Committee Chair? Mom? All of these positions, though unpaid have prepared you to be a valuable employee. The first time I interviewed post-stay-at-home mom days, I was able to link my experience running several lacrosse initiatives for my kids to the job duties I’d be required to execute—time management, organization, public speaking, people wrangling. DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORT.
6) Be honest with yourself about your requirements. Will you be able to survive on the salary? The travel? What personal sacrifices will you have to make if you take this job? You can be picky. IT IS YOUR LIFE AND YOU ONLY GET ONE.
7) Be realistic. You have not ever been in the business world or you’ve been out of it for years. You will have to put in the time and prove your worth. I did and most everyone has to also. Be patient and work hard and people will notice.
8) Be yourself. Being yourself may not get you hired. That is the truth. But, you will eventually find a position that speaks to your strengths and passion. Pretending to be someone you’re not will only delay your journey to your best job.
Good luck! As a bonus for reading this blog to the end, I am happy to conduct practice interviews and have some “give back” time scheduled weekly. Message me and I’ll check you out and share my thoughts!