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Category Archives: careers
Don’t Panic but Never Rest :)
Navigating the working world can be brutal. I have spent over 15 years of my professional life as a Recruiter helping people find jobs and companies find people, and one truth becomes more apparent every day. Whether you are in the C-Suite or just starting your career, it takes tremendous, continual effort and discipline to get anywhere worth going! Whether you are aware of it or not, your path and destinations both are moving, changeable things, heading off into an un-seeable future.
Does that sound dramatic? It can be! I interviewed a great person the other day who had spent 20 years in the same industry. He was smart, articulate – hadn’t had to interview for a job since graduating from college because his industry was niche, and one wherein you would go from company to company with those who knew you based on the reputation you had built. Almost overnight, with a change in legislation, his niche and his comfortable mid-level position disappeared.
Boom. Like that. Reality changed. Whole companies can vanish at the whim of economies. Industries break. People we trust to help our careers fail us, and occasionally we fail careers. Nothing is constant.
So we live in flux, and chances are we are feeling it every day whether or not we acknowledge it. We can make the decision to bury our heads in the sand and pretend to ourselves that nothing changes, we can have non-specific anxiety attacks about it and take no action. Or, we can decide to take a deep breath and learn to live in the uncomfortable…and fight change with change.
We have to constantly be reinventing – our skills, our minds, our outlook. You can’t depend on a job, or a company, or even a highly-marketable skill set to always get you where you want to be. Fantastic recruiters can help, hard work will get you far, but always keeping your mind moving and looking at what you need to learn next will serve you better. Here are some ideas on what that can look like:
- Put 15 minutes on your calendar a week to spend on LinkedIN. See what other people are doing/writing in your industry, see whose jobs are changing, and just generally stick your head out and make yourself aware. Is your network up-to-date and can you expand it? Do you have a picture? Does your profile adequately reflect you? Are you following companies? Commit to yourself professionally.
- Read…even it is listening to someone else read to you via Audible or podcast. Ignore your Netflix collection one night a week and open a book that is about self-improvement and growth that will get you thinking and focused in the business realm and on what you want to do with your life.
- Ask for new challenges – and if you aren’t given any, create some. Sometimes, we rely on our companies a little too much when it comes to creating opportunities for growth. Figure out something you feel it would be good to learn and learn it, and don’t be afraid to fail miserably in doing so.
- Meditate. This is something I’m trying. It’s not easy; but there is something about taking time to actually breathe and connect with yourself and with the world that can calm you, especially when change feels like it’s too much. When we stop running and start accepting, we cease to operate from mere reaction and fear. We can become.
Whatever it is, don’t stop. Keep moving. Keep growing. Keep expanding who you are so that no opportunity that comes your way seems too far out of your reach! Don’t let the illusion of comfort trick you into complacency. The more you extend yourself and the more you can offer the world, the better you feel no matter what your professional world throws at you! So be confident, enjoy what you are doing, but “Never Rest” – Rainer Marie Rilke
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- Julie (Semrow) Sullivan is a Corporate Recruiter with 15+ years recruiting across multiple industries, but mostly in technology because she has strong geeky leanings and a weird sense of humor. She loves to write, loves helping others in their careers where she can, and sharing what she’s learned (usually the hard way). She’s trying out this speaking in third person thing for kicks. Feel free to write to her at email@example.com.
The Ghost of Seasons Past
Standing around with two of my best girlfriends at my daughter’s 4th birthday party, I found some validation, enlightenment, and perspective (as much as one might muster amid a horde of tiny, rushing, screaming humans).
The Parental Juggling Act
When you have two working parents, and two children, there are many different things you have to try to balance. It’s not easy. It’s exhausting. It frequently requires a tag-team effort.
Yes, there are the meals that go uncooked, the house that goes uncleaned, and mass chaos but on top of that there are other considerations:
- Determining which of us is less likely to face career retribution from staying home or leaving early to take care of kids;
- Figuring out which one of us is actually more tired and frustrated (competitive self-pity);
- Delegation of triage procedures for toy-related injuries;
- Which series on the DVR to delete because we’ve never managed to catch up;
- Which children’s program is the least annoying;
- Setting a date and time to actually have a conversation not involving scheduling, kids, or finances…
and the actually managing to do it;
- Locating and/or remembering what presents were hidden where and who they were for in the first place;
- Figuring out who gets to eat the treats we deny our children for health reasons (aka taking one for the team)!
Can you relate to any of this? Parenthood: a wonderful journey requiring frequent comedy breaks and a massive sense of humor!
Split a Million Ways
Those articles that shout “you too can have it all” must be outright lies…or just belong to someone else’s reality.
It has been well over a month since I have written anything more elaborate than a Facebook status: partially because I haven’t had time and partially because I get ashamed when I see myself falling behind and would rather fall off the map than admit I see an inability to get everything done as a weakness instead of just a practical reality.
In the past few weeks, I have had a loved one unexpectedly hospitalized (way scary), giant projects at work, the birth of a new niece and travel shoved in with general survival. Add in several anxiety attacks, occasional bouts of exercise, toddler tantrum remediation and obligatory social occasions and you have…
It’s the way it goes. You roll with it or fight it; the former has benefits of conservation of energy, the latter allows room for the illusion that we have much control.
I went away for a hiring event (one I worked my arse off to plan and execute) for one of my company’s locations. It was many long hours on my feet, and my blister’s blisters had babies over a 4 day period.
My sainted hubby had the kids alone while I was gone. Both kids and the dog got sick at the same time. After 4 days of business travel I flew home, got off the plane, arrived at my house (after an hour stuck in rush hour traffic) and took over for the weekend.
Today I went back to work wondering
If I really did anything this weekend beyond herding crying children, wiping gooey, snotty faces and hiding in the bathroom (which doesn’t work by the way).
And yet? I have a job to go to and a reason to work hard. I have the children and family I always wanted. We’re not rich, but we have a roof and clothes and help should we need it. I have reasons to laugh daily. Everyone made it through their various illnesses, and I am still here to write about it all.
And while I wish I were writing more, perhaps I should just be grateful I can write at all, and be pleased when I can eek out more than a fragment in a bathroom stall (ew!) or during bouts of insomnia.
Or maybe at least I can be willing to accept that I am human, I can only do so much, and be thankful for those things that I do manage to get done…and accept that for me, if I am spending time cuddling my babies (and yes, they are not technically babies, dangit, but they are my babies) and providing for their welfare as best I can, I’m doing okay…and maybe work on trying to better fit some of the other bits in there too and not be so hard on myself.
Dinner time on a diet
I may have mentioned previously that I am not a skinny gal. It’s a battle I continue to fight: at times my efforts are pretty hardcore.
Like now, for instance.
A working mom’s best friends are sometimes drive-thru windows and at least partially pre-packaged meals at least once or twice a week.
Not an option. I have a very limited diet and need to prepare my own meals. It sucks.
What becomes harder? Walking into the house and preparing a meal that will feed me and making additional options for everyone else…far tastier options.
It’s not just the cooking. It’s the dang dishes and the clean-up. It is a giant pain in the hooey.
What I need is a personal chef and housekeeper. For that matter, a personal trainer would not run amiss.
But if I had those things, I also probably wouldn’t need to work the hours I do, etc., etc.
Ah well. Night 3 of home-cooking included cooked cabbage. Not the tastiest item, especially without lots of butter and salt. My family’s option included pasta, which I can’t have.
I’m not bitter, not really. I ignored my daughter’s comments about my soggy lettuce. I tried not to smell the delicious carbs. I ignored my husband’s pitying look. I am eating what I should and hopefully it will lead to better things.
That said? The lovely cabbage smell? The kind of smell that sneaks up on you in hallways of random apartment buildings?
Yeah, they won’t be running away from that anytime soon.
Today, for a training class, I found myself back on a commuter train, going into the city with the other thousands of public transportation takers into the city.
And you know what? I found I’d missed it a little.
Usually my commute via car is about 45 minutes. Typically this time is used for making appointments, coordinating the pickup of children, the occasional touch base with sisters or friends and avoiding traffic bottlenecks.
I got to close my eyes!! And they have apparently instituted quiet cars during rush hour! I could have wept with joy.
And on the way home? I did the same thing!
I am not saying I want to return to my city commute: it’s too far from my kids should I need to get home in a pinch. But for one day?
Concessions of a working mum
There are many ways in which my life has changed while trying to balance a family, kids, and a career. I now find myself:
- Listening to books a la .mp3 while commuting since keeping my eyes open with a real book seems impossible;
- Writing blog entries on my cell phone mornings at two a.m. while waiting for my small son to fall back asleep;
- Watching the first 10 minutes of one television show on the DVR over a three evening period because I keep falling asleep before the 11th;
- Sneaking into my children’s rooms to watch them sleep because I get such little time with them during the day (and occasionally waking up in their rooms);
- Catching up on the lives of my family via Facebook since so rarely are we able to even speak on the phone at the same times;
- Not having any kind of consistent social life outside of the minions;
- Getting little quality time (read: any time) spent on hair, makeup, or general beautification unless I am willing to get up at 3am (sorry world);
- An almost constant craving for Sleep, Sleep, Sleep (Um, have I mentioned sleep?) has supplanted almost all other desires.
And honestly? I am so grateful for the two little Berserkers I have that as long as they remain decently clothed, fed, and (reasonably) happy, nothing else matters. There is nothing I am unwilling to do in that pursuit, no job I would not undertake, and I am sure that is true of you too.
Multiple social identity (dis)order
I like to believe I am pretty honest and straightforward. I do not like the fake, and I am not a fan of the airbrushed. Half of my job depends on my ability to see through the facades people project to find and in some respects, judge, the character and potential beneath.
And I am damn good at it.
But here’s the thing: I am coming to believe in the necessity of multiple personalities and identities. Where blood types and hair color used to be enough to identify bodies, we now have to use DNA to really make sure. And these days, the same level of research seems critical to figuring out who the heck you’re dealing with on a daily basis.
No longer are these judgements based on resumes and simple conversation. You now have to cross-reference LinkedIn profiles versus Twitter feeds versus Facebook. And in some cases you’ll find all 3 vastly different, and that is not by accident.
Even on a micro-level, we compartmentalize our identities more and more, and with social media that trend expands. I am attempting to write not one, but two blogs: one that speaks to me, myself and my experiences and the other to those as they relate to my kids. Why? Because even though I am the same person and tied to my world in both ways, there are some people who dig reading about kids and my stories there and others who just don’t.
I would add a third blog to cover my career gal side if I had time. My work life is catalogued on LinkedIn, my personal on Facebook, and other parts of me scattered among blogs and hash tags. Fragments of who I am show up all over the internet.
I don’t think I am less of a person, less deep, or less kind (usually). I am still me. But adaptation to the social landscape comes at a price: using
so many different outlets for connection and business and self-expression shapes our identities as well. The very tools we use to craft our outward identities change us and the way we think in the process.
I am Google-optimized. That can feel scary, and occasionally leaves me feeling fragmented. But I try to believe I am becoming more of a person, not less, and that we grow to fit not shrink the identities we develop – at least I pray that is the case.
To keep myself sane, I make a conscious effort to step away from the machines, the laptops the iPhone and television and unplug. I play with my kids, pet the dog, and drink a glass of wine on the porch.
Call a friend you usually text message and see them in person. Remind yourself (and them) how much more you are than your status update or latest tweet. That’s what I do anyway. And if maybe you are feeling a little fragmented and overwhelmed by all the social media in your life, you can try it too.
1:55 am. Respond to screaming baby and try to put him back to sleep. Change diaper. Put permanent dents in chest from leaning over side of crib rubbing infant’s back.
2:18 am. Return to bed. Rescue pillow from pug, try to block out combined snores of husband and dog. Resent hot pillow.
3:34 am. Wake to sound of child’s screams. Try to blot out sound ineffectively. Wake up husband and delegate bottle duty. Lay in bed pretending I am not monitoring activity. Fall back to sleep. Nightmare. Damn.
4:50 am. Wake, remembering that I forgot to send a work email. Panic.
5:50 am. Husband’s 20-year-old alarm goes off – for me. Horrid sports radio. ::shudder:: Force self into shower, away from annoying sound.
6:30 am. Trick daughter into clothes for preschool, search house for hair clip and left shoe. Try not to wake baby.
6:34 am. Woke baby. Cuss under breath. Remind daughter she didn’t hear anything.
7:45 am. Leave house with random food items for lunch.
7:50am. Blow through Dunkin Donuts for the coffee I was giving up. Burn mouth, make note to order iced tomorrow.
8:30am. Arrive at office. Pluck eyebrows in car mirror, apply makeup so as not to scare coworkers.
8:34am. Work. Try not to mess up. Eat lunch at desk, try to remember what day it is. Make note to play Lotto.
6:13pm. Leave office. Report location and status to spouse. Pick up dinner for family.
6:53pm. Walk in house. Drop purse, pick up baby. Hug toddler. Share food. Cuddle and play with kiddos.
7:45pm. Give baby bottle. Hope baby falls asleep before I do.
9pm. Fall asleep in clothes on bed while husband continues to try and wrangle toddler.
::Repeat. Rinse. Pray. ::