The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

LinkedIn to Gainful Employment

on May 3, 2015

So, it’s been six and half years since I was in Gainful Employment. How quickly time flies. When I last wrote about this subject matter in Occupation what?, it was 18 months ago.

There is now a six and a half year gaping gap in my CV.

It was difficult and strange not to be defined by my role in Gainful Employment. It wasn’t easy at first to be Unemployed. A Housewife. A Homemaker. On a career break. A Stay At Home Mum. I had never been any of these things before and it wasn’t a conscious decision to acquire these labels. They just happened upon me and I guess that’s why I found it so unpalatable. It’s not always ‘society’s fault’ that you feel at a disadvantage for being any of these things. A lot of the pressure comes from within. That feeling of we ought to be doing much more. That our worth is measured by quantifiable outputs with a financial value attached to it.

I stopped feeling annoyed at being a Homemaker when I realised just how fleeting the time you have with small children really is. And also how expensive they are. For you can’t be a Lady of Leisure or one that lunches all the time for very long when suddenly there is housing, schooling, feeding, clothing and random activities for small people that need paying for to consider. Before there’s even room for yourself to buy shoes you’ll seldom get to wear.

When I recently said out loud in conversation that I hadn’t worked in so long, I was actually asked ‘What have you done in this time?’. I’m sure it wasn’t meant with any ill intent or to make me feel like I couldn’t possibly be contributing to society or pulling my weight within my marriage because I haven’t been in Gainful Employment.

Would saying I’ve been travelling the world on £10 a day, or that I’m about to publish my first novel, or that I’m about to set up my own business be more interesting than the actual answer I gave which was that I’ve had #1, 2 and 3. It was met with a ‘Oh, you have been busy’ and not much else.

I find that just saying I have had three children in this time sometimes doesn’t quite sound enough. Not that I mean I ought to have had four. That is also another bizarre concept I on occasion encounter. When #3 reached a year old, I was asked in all seriousness that isn’t it time for #4? Like having children becomes your thing. Even if there was to be #4, I’m sure I’d be asked about #5.

Anyways, I really hadn’t thought about this six and a half year gap or worried much about it. But in revisiting my CV to give it a good dusting down and from speaking to others, I realise that something does need to be done about it. It’s a competitive market out there and the global economy is not fully buoyant.

I read someone else’s blog recently who talks a lot about life coaching and positive well being. It was a post about having to ‘market’ oneself. That a prestigious and qualified education and extensive work experience on your CV alone is not enough to get you noticed in your place of Gainful Employment or to get you that next great job. This is not an entirely new concept as you will know yourself. We all know the power and value of effective networking. Some can do it far better than others, some will do it because they have to and some just baulk at the thought of having to sing your own praises and would rather not.

I have no sound advice on this matter. To me the idea of ‘networking’ to persuade and influence people sounds a bit too clinical. I like meeting new people and hearing about them. I have a natural tendency to ask questions and I’m pretty good at remembering stuff too. This can be rather surprising to some people and a pain for those who have known me a long time when I can recall their youthful misdemeanours even when they have long forgotten. My powers have weakened somewhat though, since the arrival of #1, 2 and 3.

So how does one become as they say, ‘relevant’? I guess a couple of years out of Gainful Employment wouldn’t make a really big difference to most professions. But mine is quite a sizeable chunk. At least heading back into Gainful Employment now, the world is still using technology and gadgets I have heard of before. I’m not switching from a manual typewriter to word processor or fax machines to emails or paper files to zip files.

But then I haven’t had to work with Excel, Word or PowerPoint since then either and I don’t even now if these programmes still exist. Or if they do, it will be a revised version 23 or something. With hindsight, I ought to have given more credit to the ‘everything on a spreadsheet’ approach. I apologise for mocking such behaviour now. I’m painfully out of touch with Gainful Employment speak as well. How could I not be when I’ve been reverting back to English for Babies Level 1 these last five years. Imagine speaking to a small person who take everything literally using these phrases – Drinking from the hosepipe. I need it yesterday. It’s a jungle out there. Push the envelope. Step up to the plate. Talk until you’re blue in the face. Actually #1, 2 and 3 probably do know about this last one as I’m often repeating myself until I’m blue in the face and they care not a jot.

 

There’s a lot to consider on your path back to Gainful Employment before you even look at what possible jobs are there for you.

You need to prepare the world for your imminent return. Get yourself ‘out there’. I wasn’t aware of this at first until someone asked me if I was on LinkedIn. What do you mean? What is this LinkedIn? Linked to what that I’m not in?

The best way it was described to me was as Facebook for Gainful Employment. You do not need to be as discriminatory as you are with your Facebook friends but You Need To Be On It and You Need To Have Connections. Lots of them. Your Connections are a reflection of your networking capabilities. Really? Anyone can click a button and ask totally random people to get LinkedIn with them. I know this because I’ve had such random requests and it really threw me off balance. I agonised over the right etiquette to decline or not to decline? How would it look on my path back to Gainful Employment if I don’t have 500+ Connections? Or an interesting and wide ranging set of Connections? To be honest my LinkedIn Connections look very much like my Facebook Friends List. Bar a couple of names I never thought I’d hear from again. I’m still not sure I like my education and career history being so public. You can tell as much from my rather scant LinkedIn profile. It rather yells ‘Must Try Harder’.

This is the thing with social media these days, everyone is so visible. This is a personal blog but with public visibility. Whilst I should be able to rant and let off steam as I see fit, I know I won’t. Because it’s not appropriate. Same as those Instagram accounts that are full of selfies that seem to serve no purpose whatsoever. Or Twitter accounts that are full of thoughts people should really keep inside of their heads. Or Facebook forums that are full of ridiculous and fanciful concerns. People will cross reference you with LinkedIn you know.

This should be the first point of careers advice you give to anyone. Just because you can let the whole world know your every move, give an opinion on someone else’s problem when you don’t even know them and post a comment or photo in haste, you could professionally repent that move for a long leisurely time.

Then there’s that other matter of how to be ‘relevant’. Experience. Experience is invaluable but if you’re talking too much in the past tense it’s not going to be that valuable. One has to have relevant experience. How to gain relevant experience? And that’s the trouble with a sizeable chunk of time out from Gainful Employment. Can I apply having to manage the basic caregiving responsibilities, social activities and ferrying to and from places of #1, 2 and 3 to how I would devise a strategy plan and work with minimum supervision to manage own workload? Or how getting them to eat a range of solids and green vegetables demonstrated my creative flare. Or how dealing with public meltdowns and tantrums showed I was able to deliver under pressure whilst remaining calm at all times?

I would actually like to conduct an interview and answer questions based on the new skills and experiences I have picked up in the last six and half years alone. I’ve travelled half the world and left behind an established and steady network of friends and family to build a whole new one. I’m forever meeting new people because Singapore is such a transient place to be. I’m always diplomatic when creating new links because you will always know people in common. I’ve been able to adapt to a whole new lifestyle change with minimum preparation and no previous experience when #1, 2 and 3 came along. When you have no close family and friends around, you value the importance of being a supportive friend to those networks you build. Communication becomes key when you live away because you don’t want to lose touch with those networks you already had and all the new ones you’ve made since. There is constant pressure and change with being a Parent and having to think on your feet. Financial targets are forever changing as your outgoings rise year on year. I’ve increased my knowledge in a broad range of current affairs because I need to know more to protect the interests of #1, 2 and 3.

My world, my concerns, my skills have changed and matured since I was last in Gainful Employment. I feel I have much more experience in lots of new areas that have given me much more confidence.

I just need to update my CV and my LinkedIn profile to reflect this. 

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2 responses to “LinkedIn to Gainful Employment

  1. sanity4mummy says:

    Is made me laugh. I also get the “are you having number four soon then?” question a lot. People seem to assume that, once you have had more then two kids, having kids is just what you do. Never quite understood that one. X

    Like

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