Kids In School; Ready To Job Search?

Here in North America, it’s back to school time. Yes, the University and College kids have been dropped off in new cities far from home; the elementary and high school students are back in classes next week. So, with them back in school, are you now ready to get back yourself? In your case, looking for work?

Here’s something that might be of interest to you: The number one hiring period each year is March/April and the second is August/September. So we’re well into a prime hiring period. I don’t how long you’ve been putting off looking to get back into work, but you certainly do. What better time than now?

Some parents have been anxiously awaiting this time in their lives when their children are old enough to go to school. Knowing that they are being watched and cared for by other responsible adults allows them the comfort to shift their focus back to their own lives.

For other parents, having their children in school means separation from their children for the first time in years. This can have some surprising impacts, such as being afraid of looking for work and even more fear about actually finding an employer who hires them and then having to work. Seems odd but it happens when someone has had a child and not worked in the 4 or 5 years from their birth to the present. And if the parent had a second child during those 4 to 5 years, well, it may be that mom hasn’t worked in 8 – 9 years. That length of time might have eroded any confidence and skills once had. So returning to work now can be scary.

Today by the way as I write is August 27 and that means in 4 month’s time, Christmas will be over by 2 days. Retail employers are already planning their staffing needs and ads are actually starting to show up looking for seasonal help. In addition, those College and University students I alluded to earlier are having to leave their jobs and return to school themselves. So openings are being created; opportunities await, and you might want to get out there sooner rather than later.

One common objection I hear from the parent of an elementary school aged child is that they can only take jobs from 9 until 2 or 3 p.m. After all, they have to be standing in the school yard waiting with open arms to receive their child back into their care. Well, let’s be honest, that’s more a want than an absolute need. Consider that a lot of very good parents have their children in child care after having exhausted their maternity leave with employers. With their children in care all those years, having their children in school now means they are more comfortable having them receive before and after school care. So too could the stay-at-home mom find care outside of school hours; freeing them up to work or look for work. It’s a choice and I’m not saying one is wrong to return to work, but neither is one wrong for having their child in care.

There’s one truth we must acknowledge here though and that is that the longer you go without employment, the harder it is to get back into the workforce. Skills you once had get rusty or obsolete, references from years past become worthless, experience becomes questionable and depending on the field you’re returning to, outdated experience is next to having none at all. Why? Because an employer would rather hire someone with current or recent experience; someone who has skills, education which are among the best practices of the day.

Looking at the individual, a person’s confidence is undoubtedly not as strong as it may have been in the past; the depth of that lack of confidence mirroring the number of years out of the workforce. The longer you’re unemployed, the greater you’re self-doubt about your abilities. Admittedly this isn’t necessarily always the case, but I’m speaking in generalities here.

Now there are those not ready to enter the world of paid work who will cite their children’s return to school as yet another reason why they themselves can’t go to work yet. This is more for the parents peace of mind than that of the child. There are even those, (if we’re honest here) who don’t want to work at all and will look for any and all reasons why they need to stay home and not work, and their child’s entry into school gives them yet another plausible reason.

Now sure there’s an adjustment period for both child and parent when something as big as going to school for the first time or child care for the first time comes up. Wanting to ensure our children get off to a good start is being responsible. Kids are resilient though and we need to give them all the credit they are due for adapting quickly to these new environments. We did it, generations have done it, and our own kids will do it too.

Focusing back on our own careers and getting to work or back to work as the case may be is also natural. It may take you longer than you assumed or not to find work. Depends I suppose on your individual circumstances.

Dust off the old resume and get it updated. Consider volunteering if work seems too much; maybe even in your child’s school. Hey, it’s a start.

Welcome Back! How Was Your Vacation? Go Anywhere?

3 weeks off. It was nice if you’re interested in asking. Today is the first day back to work and I’m looking forward to coming back into the fold. How do you feel about returning to your workplace after time away for some rest and relaxation?

The predictability of the questions I’ll be asked isn’t irksome or tiring. No, it’s good you know; good to have that regularity and it’s others way of saying you’ve been missed.

Unlike some other times I’ve been off, there’s been some changes in the workplace I’ll have to catch up on. We’ve two new additions to our team; two who ironically joined the team on the very first day I was off. That’s good really, as it has given them 3 weeks to get involved and into the mix. Then there’s the impact of some changes our Provincial Government announced during my absence which I’ll have to find out about. Oh well, it’s quite different from going back and have everyone tell you nothing much happened in your absence. “Same old, same old”; not this time around!

Of course there will be the usually higher than normal amount of emails and phone messages to respond to. Yes even though the voice recording advised I was away and the email had a message advising the same, there will be an abundance of both upon my return. Now mind you a lot of the emails will be easy to delete without reading them just by looking at the subject line. So emails telling me who is away each day for the past 3 weeks as an example are of no interest to me. You have the same experience I suppose; returning to more email than you’d like and many of them of the ‘delete without opening’ nature?

Today though, there won’t be much time to stand around and chat with co-workers who ask about the time away. No, I’m scheduled to lead a workshop on learning the basics of the computer while simultaneously sharing how I go about it with a colleague who joined our team earlier in the year but who has yet to run the workshop solo. Getting the body and brain psyched-up to ‘workshop  mode’ right way is imperative! Whatever happened to coming back and being scheduled as an extra myself, rather than the number one guy?

Well, I did have a nice time away from work. My wife and I had two babysitting gigs with the new grandson, which is very special. Now 4 1/2 months old, he’s still very heavy on the sleep, pee and feed schedule, but there’s play time and more of the genuine smiles and giggles brought about by a song or a laugh instead of just gas!

I also had an Electrician in to add power to a newly built workshop. It came on the last two days of the vacation mind, so I’ve not had time out there to play with it much, but I’m looking forward to many woodworking projects in the future; something I did in the past and quite enjoyed. Day one and two of my vacation were actually spent digging a 1 1/2 foot deep trench the length of our house and through some pretty rocky and clay packed ground for the laying of the cable. Not everybody’s idea of a good time, but it had to be done.

We did more of course; lounging around the backyard, barbecuing, reading, some shopping and the odd day trip here and there. It’s time though to go back to work and I not only feel it, I’m ready for it with the right attitude too. 3 weeks is a long rest and I’m centered again, which, if you’ve ever felt ready to return yourself, you know what I mean. A week doesn’t seem long enough to unwind and any longer than 3 weeks might not do much unless it was some driving trip across Canada.

I found myself wondering about the hoped for success that many of the people I was helping to find jobs may have experienced in my absence. Those emails or phone messages I am looking forward to hearing and reading. Fingers crossed for them. And of course, I’m not the only one on vacation at this time of year, so I’m interested to know and hopeful that others who had time off had an equally enjoyable vacation.

Yes I’m grateful for the time off and recognize not everyone gets more than 2 weeks vacation for the year. I’m locked in at 5 now until retirement; still some years into the future for that by the way, but I can’t accumulate more than 5 weeks off unless some change in practice occurs. I believe I’ve got the equivalent of a week left spread around Christmas and the odd day here and there.

Ah but back to today. Focus Kelly! Those 12 people in your computer class don’t know or really care about your vacation! Right! There isn’t much time to transition from sandals and shorts into Workshop Facilitator and I’d best get ready now!

In short, (not shorts) it’s good to be back! This blog is part of getting back into the daily routine. Structure and routine are good for me; not in everything I do, but in this case, most welcome.

If you took time off yourself recently or have it approaching, I hope it was equally good or better even!