I’m contemplating returning to the work force full time again. No, I’m not insane, masochistic, high (on anything other than baby powder fumes), or unfulfilled (a terrible term over-used by boomer’s in the angst of the go-go 80’s and 90’s). It’s been a complex algorithm of self-analysis, financial analysis, and future analysis of the skyrocketing costs of college education my husband and I plan for our four children that have led me to this decision. Plus, I really want a swimming pool some day. One must have priorities, after all.
I’m ok with my decision, REALLY. I’ve loved being at home full time and part time with my children over these past ten years and despite the logistical difficulties Tom and I will face with child care, after-school care, activities, and homework we will face for our brood, I think I’m ready to put my Ann Taylor pantsuit and sensible/sexy office heels back on and head into the work force. Now, if I could just find a job.
Call me naïve, unrealistic, foolish, but I thought someone with my skills would have no trouble finding gainful employment. Well, I should probably say experience rather than skills. What skills do I have to offer anyway? I have a resume full of valuable, relevant business management experience but I have yet to make much traction on getting any employer interested in my offerings. Oh I know there are tons of online and professional resources to help be better craft my message and sell myself but I suppose I’m not really serious enough (desperate) about my search yet to remake my resume and pitch and become something that would knock the sock off even the professional corporate recruiting gatekeepers. So I keep finding cool sounding jobs online and submitting my resume. I’ve had a few conversations and interviews. In one case the employer was definitely interested, I just needed more money (child-care sure does take a bite!) than the position was offering. I did have one phone interview recently with an employer to remain unnamed. Here’s a little how it went….
“Tell me something about myself? Well, I worked for ten years after graduating from a top tier liberal arts university with a degree in business and communications (read between the lines – no practical skills whatsoever), was hired by a big six consulting firm, was pawned off on clients willing to pay my unreasonably high billing rate due to the fact that I had no skills whatsoever but still managed to be pretty good at it. Blah blah blah blah blah, experience, value-add, successful, blah blah blah.”
“You want to know my GPA? In college? Why, that was 17 years ago for crying out loud, does my work experience not count for anything? It was my understanding this interview was for a position in HR.”
“Well, Ms. LeBleu, we have to draw the line somewhere.”
After I confided what I thought it was (to be fair, they did let me know ahead of time that they would be asking this question) because – who the hell remembers their GPA nearly two decades after you have not thought about it at all? Not that I’m ashamed of it – I did land a pretty sweet corporate job upon graduation, even with my no skills whatsoever and had managed to cobble together a pretty good resume over the years of practical, relevant work experience.
Here’s what I heard from their end. Nothing – you know when you are on speaker phone, you talk and talk and then take an unscheduled pause and there is silence – like those dropped call cell phone commercials. I was on ‘mute’ the whole time while Ms. Corporate recruiter and her suck up assistant were falling out of their chairs laughing at my audacity to waste their Mensa-IQ’d time with this interview.
Or maybe it was the fact that I have four children - two of them under five and ripe with frequent illnesses from day care - meaning I would be a completely unreliable and uncommitted employee if hired, slacking home sick five or six days a month. Except that I never mention that I have children during interviews – it’s the kiss of death.
Do I sound bitter? A little defensive perhaps? Because, though humbled and humiliated by this recent foray back into the corporate posturing, I know it was not meant to be. Does it mean I could be a bit better prepared and have a better looking resume, absolutely. I just thought it was terrible manners to conduct an interview – first on speaker phone with an assistant present that was never introduced to me, and then to keep pushing that mute button like it was a morphine pump. I may have no business working for them but I do have GREAT discernment and know when I am sent to that phone netherworld where I talk talk talk, they mostly don’t listen unless I say something else hilarious and off topic, then the hop to push the 'on' button back so that an answer to a question I have posed 30 seconds ago (a lifetime) finally gets answered.
So, I’ll brush up my interview skills, do a little better targeting of ‘fit’ jobs for my experience, and work that network of mine. And what would I say to these corporate recruiters that never took the time to even email me thanks for my time but they would be considering other applicants for that role, “You can Google THIS!”