Even before having kids and before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, finding a job was my least favorite thing in the world. I would rather eat liver than look for a job. There are a few resources, though, that I’ve found valuable in fine tuning my job hunting skills, networking and staying motivated, no small feat when your moods are as up and down as the career search can be. Here are my favorite sources for career support.
Why I like it: it’s full of really good advice. I’ve used it to improve my job seeking skills, for daily motivation and to search for positions. There’s almost too much here to get through, though it’s all neatly categorized. The most valuable advice I’ve found so far is on perfecting my “tell me about yourself speech.” The last interview I had, for a position that suited me perfectly (work from home, write about mental health), I completely bombed. Asked “tell me about yourself”, rambled about every job I’ve had, how I got to where I am, yada, yada, yada. I wasn’t invited to the next phase of the process. So, I searched The Muse for “tell me about yourself” and found exactly what I suspected: that I’d been answering the question all wrong. I now have a succinct answer that covers most of what is relevant to my job search and doesn’t include my kids favorite foods or my shoe size. Here it is:
Currently, I publish a parenting blog and teach enrichment t gifted and high achieving students. Before that, I worked in public relations and owned my own company. I went to graduate school hoping to be a middle school teacher, but the economy made that difficult. I love teaching and I love writing, so I would like to work for an organization where I can use both of those passions.
I tailor the statement depending on what type of position I’m seeking and I’ll include more about my mental health when I think it’s appropriate.
I haven’t yet tried any of the online courses (also free), but I’m planning to start the networking strand soon.
Social anxiety and fear of rejection are huge barriers to success for me; LinkedIn makes them much easier for me to handle. I don’t regret being open about my neurodiversity, but also believe it has closed some doors career-wise. So, I’ve started focusing on finding opportunities related to mental health, where my own mental health might be an asset. With LinkedIn, I don’t have to cold call (is an email to a stranger a cold mail?) anyone. Recently, I did a search for people in the mental health field and found a contact in my own town who is connected to a good friend. My friend introduced us and, almost instantly, I was connected to a number of others in the local mental health community. I’ve also joined a number of LinkedIn groups for writers and just yesterday met another teacher/writer in my area. Like The Muse, LinkedIn can be a tremendous time suck, but I will definitely continue using it for networking.
I’ve used a life coach as well as a variety of support groups in the past. Life Coaching can be expensive, I know, but I was able to barter landscape design services for coaching. My coach was supportive and smart but I don’t think I used her talents well, probably because I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. The seeds of blogging and Crazy Good Parent, though, were first sown in my sessions with her. Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to afford one-on-one coaching right now.
I have tried in-person coaching groups, which were far less expensive but, for one reason or another, didn’t work out. One group stands out as clearly unsuited to my vision of what constitutes success in life. I wanted work that would fit into my life; the coach felt I needed to make my life fit my work.
My experiences with online coaching and support groups have been far more fruitful. Some months ago, I was invited to join a Facebook group that focuses on transforming yourself one aspect at a time. For 28 days, each member commits to a goal. While I’ve committed to goals before, this group required proof of progress and it worked for me–if the goal was one I truly valued. I slogged through writing about my mother’s death, something I’d put off for years (my mother died in 2008). Was it easy? Not at all. Did I do it? I sure did. This month I committed to improving my sleep habits. Turns out I’m actually doing ok with the habits I already have. Getting more sleep just made me sleepier; my therapist assures me seven to eight hours of sleep is just an average. I, apparently, am not average; six is my sleep number.
These are just a few of the things that have worked for me and that I will continue to use. The Muse requires registration, but is completely free, including many of its online courses. LinkedIn also requires registration and a basic profile is free. Additional features will require an upgrade, which can be quite costly. Most people opt for basic. Building a profile is easy and the more complete yours is, the more professional it (and you) look. There are many sources for life and career coaches as well, including the National Career Development Association. Recommendations from friends and therapists are likely the best way to find a career counselor/coach, though.
How about you? Finding a job is freaking hard and more so when you’re managing a family and your mental health. How do you stay motivated? Are there any resources you’ve found particularly helpful?