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Tips For Adulthood: Five Things To Do Before You Start A New Job

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

On Monday I start a new job.

Alongside the relief that comes with accepting a job offer, there are inevitably a whole new set of concerns that crop up as well. In particular – at least if you’re like me – you fear that once you embark upon this new phase of life, you’ll never have time to shower any more, let alone make it to the post office to buy stamps.

That’s not true. But it is true that the priorities on your To-Do list will become all the more clearer, as things like “sort out religion” invariably take second fiddle to “buy new bras.”

To that end, here are five things you might want to take care of before you start a new job:

1. Childcare. Obviously, this applies only to those of us with kids, but within that subset of working parents, this is probably the single biggest stress-or. I am lucky in that I am going to start this new job part-time for the first couple of months before ramping up to full time. And because my husband is going to cover pick-ups during camp season in August (I find myself once again grateful for the much shorter summer vacation we endure here in England), we have some time to sort out the sitter situation. Hiring someone to look after your kids is no day at the beach, as I’ve documented before. So the sooner you get this ball rolling – use your networks!! – the better.

2. Buy Work Clothes. One of the joys of working freelance lo’ these past six years has been going to work (and school runs!) in some version of my pajamas. But that’s all come to an end, as I must now project some measure of gravitas and respectability in my new position. I’m happy about this, although knowing what to wear is not one of my fortés. Fortunately, my husband has an almost uncanny knack for knowing what looks good on women. Several years ago, he bought me a book entitled Does This Make Me Look Fat?, which is all about what clothes work for different body shapes and sizes. I spent 45 minutes yesterday perusing it, got some great tips for my body type (short-waisted, in case you’re interested) and then went over to ASOS, an Online, affordable but chic fashion company here in the UK to select a few staples for my new work wardrobe. I also plan on scanning Amid Privilege to get some more ideas, as Lisa has a way of making shopping seem fun and easy. Done and dusted, as they say round’ here.

3. Buy new makeup. I’m told that it’s wise to change your mascara every three months, partly to avoid eye infections. This is one of those rules of thumb – like replacing your running shoes every six months – that I’ve blithely chosen to ignore, partly because it seems expensive and mostly because I don’t wear eye make-up on a regular basis. But I will be now, at least to start off, and who wants to have pink-eye during their first week of work? I’ve also noticed that the eyeliner I bought recently – to replace the one I bought…oh, you don’t want to know how long ago – is actually an eyebrow pencil. Hmmm. Vidal Sassoon, where are you when I need you?

4. Go to the dentist. Let’s face it. Most of us hate going to the dentist. This is true, even for those of us who aren’t in a perpetual state of denial that it’s probably a good idea to do this every six months. (Hello, England! I’m looking at you!) And once you start working, this is one of those things that can move down your priority list very rapidly. Which is why I’ll be seeing my dentist tomorrow, even though it hasn’t been exactly six months. Among other things, I think she needs to pull one of my teeth and while I don’t look forward to the pain, I’d rather do it now than let it fester for another six months.

5. Break up with your therapist. Like going to the dentist (but hopefully more enjoyable?), therapy can also be a difficult thing to work into your schedule when you’re working full time. I’ve been with my life coach for five years now, and as much as I’m a huge fan of therapy, we both agreed during our last visit that I had “graduated” and that it was time for me to move on. We didn’t hug and I didn’t “accidentally” leave my coat behind. But I did get some closure, which actually felt good.

What am I leaving out?

Image: mascara wand by herbrm via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

Tips For Adulthood: Five (More) Tips For Job Hunting

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

As I intimated a few weeks back, I’m shortly to curtail my freelance career and go back to work full-time.

I’ve been looking for a job for a while now, so this turn of events is a huge weight off of my shoulders financially, emotionally and logistically.

Back when I was towards the beginning of this process, I shared some job-hunting tips. But now that I’m on the other side – offer in hand (albeit not signed, sealed and delivered which is why I’ll wait just a tiny bit longer to share the good news!) – I have a bit more advice to impart from the trenches.

To wit, five more useful tips for job hunting:

1. Networking matters. Not long ago, a friend of mine who’s about to start looking for work asked me to have a coffee one morning. I told her that I couldn’t because I was having an “informational interview” that day connected to my job-hunt. “What’s that?” she asked, unfamiliar with the term. “Oh, you know. It’s when you network with people in the sector you’re interested in so that they can give you leads and advice.” “Oh,” she answered. “I’d never thought about doing that.” I’ve said it before but it bears saying again: networking – with friends, with former colleagues, with friends of former colleagues, with former colleagues of friends and just about anyone who will open their door to you – is probably the most expedient way to land yourself a job. I was offered three terrific (short-term) projects during my job hunt right in the area I was looking to move into, all by virtue of networking with strangers.

2. Don’t ignore job listings. When I started my job hunt, one friend told me that I shouldn’t even bother to respond to ads in the newspaper and assorted job-related list serves because I’d never find work that way. “It’s all about who you know,” she said dismissively. She was wrong. The two interviews I had for full-time jobs in the last six weeks both came about because I answered an advertisement. No contacts. No special pleading. Just me and my CV. So as soon as you know what it is you’d like to do, get yourself signed up for as many job alerts as possible. Among other things, it gives you a great sense of the range of possible jobs out there in your field as well as what they pay. Here are some tips for answering a job ad which I found to be spot on for my own job-hunting (and interviewing) process.

3. Be persistent. Much like blogging, I think the number one thing that you need in order to get you through the ups and downs of a job-hunt is perseverance. I have another friend who told me that she feels like she *ought* to be looking for work but hasn’t gotten around to doing much about it yet.  To which I responded: “Then you’re not ready.” Looking for a job is an an exhausting process, one that entails scanning of job alerts, following up with contacts (see #1), writing cover letters, adjusting your CV, scheduling (and then re-scheduling) informational interviews and – if you’re lucky – actually doing a few formal job interviews (which themselves take a lot of time to prepare.) So if you don’t have the fire in your belly (or your wallet!) to take this on, wait until you do. You’ll be much more effective. And that energy will carry you through the days when it feels like it’s just one rejection letter after the next.

4. Be honest with yourself. Once you do have a job offer, be really honest with yourself about what you need. Not just salary – though that matters too. Be honest about what you’re looking for in terms of  hours, commute time, benefits, working from home, flex-time, dress code, office culture etc. And be sure to ask lots of questions about these things. (But only once you have the offer!) In my own case, I realized that in light of childcare concerns, impending summer holidays and imminent move, it would be really hard for me to start full-time right away in my new job, even though that’s what I’d applied to do. When I relayed this to my (new) boss – wondering aloud whether I should just postpone my start date until I could sort some of that out – he immediately suggested that I start part-time. So that’s what I’m going to do for the first couple of months, scaling up to full-time thereafter. And as soon as he said that, I felt a tremendous wave of relief. Remember, you’ll never know if you don’t ask!

5. Evaluate three things. When I was trying to make some hard choices over the past month, I consulted with a lot of friends about my options. One friend wisely counseled me to think about the following three things when deciding whether or not to take a job: a. Are you passionate about what you’ll be doing or do you at least find it sufficiently interesting? b. Does the job fit your lifestyle vis travel/hours/commute etc. (see #4) and c. Will you be working with smart, interesting and/or likable people? The closer you can get to answering all three of these questions when evaluating an employment opportunity, the less likely you are to make a mistake.

What am I missing?

 

Image: 2011/02/03 by jazzijava via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

 

 

 

 

Tips For Adulthood: Five (Surprising) Tasks Computers Do

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

It’s no secret that computers have changed our lives completely.

In the personal realm, we are more connected than ever before. We are sharing more ideas, “chatting” more with friends, and performing our lives out loud via constant status updates,  even if,  (paradoxically), we are also lonelier than ever.

In the professional realm, computers have also upended our lives. It’s no surprise, perhaps, that with the advent of technological change, certain once-vibrant professions – like copy boy and lamplighter – would be rendered obsolete.

But increasingly, we are delegating tasks to computers that even now, seem like they couldn’t possibly be automated.

Here are five surprising roles computers now play in our lives:

1. Teacher. Of all the new computerized trends, this one is probably the least surprising. The rise in Online learning has been well documented. In the year 2000, roughly 45,000 K-12 students in the United States  took an Online course. In 2010, roughly 4 million did. A lot of this is due to the skyrocketing success of the Online tutoring service, Khan Academy, which is now being incorporated into classroom learning. But the Online teaching revolution has hit the University level as well. Virginia Tech has recently launched something called the Math Emporium. This is a huge classroom, located in a shopping mall, in which hundreds of students take computerized college math courses at one time, with roving teaching assistants there to answer questions. The jury is still out on how much real, live classroom instruction still matters, but early results at the Math Emporium suggest that students are both learning more and paying less.

2. Babysitter/Parent. Again, no big surprise here, given how many of  us – even those with qualms about video games – have succumbed to their inevitability – even desirability- especially when caught in a long and tedious layover at an airport between flights. But the numbers are staggering. A Nielsen survey released a couple of months ago, titled “American Families See Tablets as Playmate, Teacher and Babysitter,” found that in households that contained both children and tablet computers, seven out of ten kids under the age of 12 used the tablet — a 9 percent increase compared with just three months earlier. As Huffington Post blogger Lisa Belkin points out, a computer or laptop or tablet has “simultaneously become our children’s source of communication, procrastination, education and entertainment.” And in performing these multiple roles, these gadgets have supplanted much of the work we used to pay babysitters to do…or did as parents.

3. Lawyers. Another area where computers are increasingly doing some of the heavy lifting is the law. The latest trend here is something called e-discovery, software that can both furnish and analyze documents relevant to a law suit and deduce patterns of behavior. If this sounds a bit 1984-ish to you, it is. It’s also putting scores of lawyers out of work. Thank goodness computers still can’t replace trial lawyers (though I bet John Edwards wishes they could.)

4. Writers. A former colleague sent me a fascinating – and chilling – article in The Atlantic about Narrative Science, a Chicago-based startup that has developed an innovative computer platform that writes reported articles in a human-like tone. While their early work focused on stories with lots of data and repetitive story lines – e.g. finance, sports – the company is increasingly focusing on applying the program’s underlying model: i.e., analyzing  facts to generate an over-arching narrative – to all sorts of topics. Fortunately, the company still employs real-life writers alongside their coders but one must wonder:  for how long?

5. Drivers. Ok, so here’s the creepiest trend of all in labor outsourcing: drivers. Yup, you heard that correctly. Apparently, Google engineers are quite close to perfecting the driverless vehicle. At a recent conference in Detroit, a spokesperson from Google said that, with further improvements, software and sensors could drive cars more safely than a human driver. Already, cars using this technology have traveled more than 200,000 miles without interference from a driver. And other major automakers and suppliers are pursuing some form of autonomous vehicle technology. Wowza.

How about you? What roles do you see computers taking on that you never thought possible?

 

Image: Although you’re far by Aphrodite via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

 

 

 

 

The Mommy Wars Inside My Head

It’s been exactly two weeks since the dreaded “Mommy Wars” re-exploded into our collective lexicon. Since then — courtesy of figures as disparate as First Lady-hopeful Ann Romney and French feminist Elisabeth Badinter— we’ve been pitting stay-at-home-moms against working moms in an inexorable, intractable struggle.

I’m completely on board with all those who think that this faux cat-fight sets up a false dichotomy within the female voting block that’s neither productive nor accurate. As far as I’m concerned, the real wars aren’t the ones that go on between women, they’re the ones that go on within women.

And I’m exhibit A.

 

Read the rest of this post at The Washington Post’s She The People blog

 

Image: Dressy Bessy, the long view by massdistraction via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

 

War On Women 2.0: Jobs

Slate political columnist Dave Weigel boldly declared last week that “the War on Women is over.”

He was referring to the political firestorm that erupted when Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen suggested that Ann Romney couldn’t possibly speak for women in this country because she’d “never worked a day in her life.” Weigel’s point was that the WoW talking point – which had served the Democrats so well through the personhood and contraception and slutgate wars  – was now dead in the water, as everyone (and their mothers), left, right and center, jumped in to defend the noble work that stay-at-home moms do.

But in the war over women voters, there wasn’t even a brief lull.

In a series of appearances on the Sunday talk shows, Geithner repeatedly refuted the claims made by GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s camp that women have been the biggest losers under President Obama in terms of jobs. Specifically, Romney had argued earlier in the week that 92.3 percent of job losses since Obama took office were suffered by women, something one of his advisers characterized as “setting us back 20 years.”

Geithner called the GOP claim “ridiculous and very misleading,” arguing that Republicans were selectively reporting job losses for part of the recession in order to attack the president. Specifically, he noted that when the recession began back in 2008 under President Bush, it was men in industries such as construction and manufacturing who took the biggest hit. Subsequently, after Obama entered office and the government was forced to cut spending, women in fields such as teaching were also squeezed.

Read the rest of this post at The Washington Post’s She The People blog

 

Women on Assembly Line Stamping Hams by Wisconsin Historical Images via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

Introducing: She The People

Hello everybody and Happy New Year!

I’m just back from Argentina, where I failed to learn the Tango and consumed far too much Malbec and red meat than could possibly be healthy for one person. Stand by for updates on all manner of things personal and political.

In the meantime, I wanted to share some really great news. Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for some time will remember that not so long ago, I used to write for a women’s blog on www.PoliticsDaily.com called Woman Up. It was a fabulous experience professionally, intellectually and socially and when it ended, there was a huge void in my life.

I’m therefore delighted to announce that as of this week, many of those same writers – myself included – will now be writing for a new women’s blog on The Washington Post, entitled She The People, where we explore “the world as women see it.”

I’ll be chiming in later today and tomorrow with a couple of my maiden posts on She The People, which will henceforth form part of my regular repertoire here on RealDelia.

But for now, please do stop by and check us out. I couldn’t be more excited to be writing with this talented group of women.

We rock. We really and truly do.

 

Image: We The People by Rishi Menon via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

 

 

Tips For Adulthood: Five New Trends In Work

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

Lately, I’ve been struck by how much the nature of work seems to be changing right now.

Not just because of the seemingly endless recession that’s sapping all of our jobs and igniting political and social change across the globe.

But also because the very definition of work – what it means and how it’s carried out – seems to be in so much flux.

To wit, here are five new trends in the way we conduct work:

1. Offices are a thing of the past. These days, it’s all about the virtual company. Abolishing most – if not all – of a company’s physical space saves a ton of money. It’s also ecologically friendly, productivity-enhancing (no commute!) and tends to make workers happier. As this fascinating case study of Inc. magazine details, there are some hurdles companies need to overcome as they transition to the virtual office (i.e. how to maintain a vibrant organizational culture.) And you definitely don’t want to do it if you have children or other dependents at home while you’re trying to work. But at least for certain jobs, telecommuting  is emerging as an efficient business model, according to the latest research.

2. If you need to set up an office, shared work space is where it’s at. With independent workers now comprising a full 30% of the workforce in the United States, shared office spaces – the term of art is coffice – are proliferating around the globe. (Why do I love this term so much? I think it’s because it reminds me of coffee.) Apparently, coffices have become particularly attractive for female entrepreneurs, as a space in which to network and share ideas.

3. Think in terms of income streams, not jobs. This comes from career coach Ford R. Myers, author of Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring. Some 6.9 million Americans, or 4.8 percent of the U.S. workforce, hold multiple jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But Myers says that this doesn’t necessarily mean that all of these people are working a double shift just to pay the bills. Rather, they are more likely doing part-time contract work, running a side business, or teaching a course – in short, building flexibility into their work life – by thinking in terms of multiple income streams, rather than multiple jobs. Or, as blogger and business communications guru Chris Brogan puts it, work will be more modular in natureSounds good to me.

4. Working fewer hours can make you more productive. Yeah, yeah. I know. We’ve heard it all before. The Four Hour Work Week and all that good stuff. But it turns out that it might be true. According to a recent study in published in Psychological Review, the key to great success is working harder in short bursts of time. Researchers found that across professions, productivity is enhanced when you work in short, highly-focused bursts with no distractions, rather than across long periods of time. As someone who’s always put in long days, this is music to my ears.

5. Internships aren’t just for college kids anymore. Rather, unpaid adult internships are the new normal. This is either exciting vis à vis the whole concept of “second acts.” Or just a horrifying sign of the dire economic straits in which we find ourselves. But it’s a reality. In a country with an unemployment rate hovering steadily just below 10%, more and more college graduates and even middle-aged professionals are willing to work for free in hopes that it will help them land a paying gig. Yikes.

Image: Day 308/365  – Rough Day At The Office by Kevin H. via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

Tips For Adulthood: Five Facts About Networking

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

I was invited to a coffee morning yesterday with some other parents at my son’s school. Although several weeks earlier, I’d told the person organizing it that I would definitely be there, on the day – as so often happens – I wondered whether I really should bother. After all, I had an exercise class to go to right afterwards. And several job applications to fill out with looming deadlines. And. And. And.

But in the end, I did go. And I’m really glad that I did. Because not only was it enjoyable, it also proved to be an excellent networking opportunity. I ended up chatting with two mums whom I barely knew, and told them that I was looking for a job. Turns out, one of them has a friend who volunteers at an organization where I’m applying to work, and another used to work at a different organization where I’d also love an “in.” Both women offered to help me out, and set the connections in motion immediately.

I network all the time – whether it’s with the odd mix of friends and strangers who populate my Twitter, Linked In and Facebook accounts – or in the old-fashioned way, through coffee mornings and the like. I use my networks for things as diverse as researching stories, locating family-friendly hotels in Vienna, helping friends find babysitters or determining the best place to buy a duvet cover in London.

Here are five facts about networking, old-school and new:

1. Networking is increasingly about ideas, not people. I’d love to claim credit for this pithy kernel of wisdom, but it actually comes via communications consultant extraordinaire Chris Brogan. Brogan points out that in the old days, because it required your physical presence, networking depended heavily on “genetics, geography and our job.” In a Web 2.0 world, however, we can network with anyone on the planet. As a result, he argues, our new networks are based “more about thinking, mindsets…passions, and future visions. Our past is there, but it’s not often the focal point. Rather, it’s our ideas and our ideals that drive things forward.” As I go about job hunting in an Online world – locating cool websites like Escape The City which seeks to match job seekers with employers based as much on their world view as on their skill sets – I see just how very right he is.

2. Social networking is highest among boomers. We tend to think of things like Facebook and Twitter as the province of the young. While it’s true that younger demographics continue to be the heaviest users of social networks, older users are joining such services at a much more rapid rate. According to a survey taken by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in 2010, social networking has almost doubled among those over 50 — growing from 22 percent to 42 percent over the previous year. While boomers and seniors are usually introduced to social networking by their children, they tend to stay for more traditional “networking” reasons: to start a second career, to re-connect with old friends as they approach retirement and/or to consult with their cohort over health-related matters.

3. Women trust Online women’s networks more than other sites. Women are by far the biggest users of social media. But new research also finds that women are more likely to trust and value information found in Online women’s communities than other social networks or websites. In a survey of over 2,000 adult women, respondents said they valued time spent in women’s communities three times more than social networks (45% vs. 15%) and almost twice as much as portals like Yahoo and AOL. They are also more trusting of product information or advice when it comes from other women Online, according to the research. Having spent quite a bit of time hanging out in places like the Brit Mums Blog, I can readily see why.

4. But women don’t network as successfully as men at work. According to a recent study by an anthropologist at the University of Indiana, women do just as much networking as men do in the work place and are connected to just as many people, but their style of networking does not yield the same results. Specifically, they do not end up connected to as many people higher up in the organization and even when they do make those connections, the higher ups tend to favor men.  Hmmmm. Perhaps this explains that pervasive glass ceiling we keep hearing about?

5. Human relationships still matter. As my coffee morning example above demonstrates, you can be as socially networked as you like, but at the end of the day, human relationships still matter. My favorite example of this comes from blogger and entrepreneur Ben Casnocha, who has a great story about serendipity and randomness on the internet, all grounded in real life.

 

Image: network by hikingartist via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

Tips For Adulthood: Five Signs You’re Ready To Return To Work

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

So as I told you on Monday, I’m currently looking for a full-time job. While I built up to this decision gradually over the past year or so, this summer I began to experience all the tell-tale signs that it was time to take the plunge.

If you’re wavering over whether or not to get back into the work force, here are five signs that you might be ready:

1. You feel wistful when you watch others go to work. I ran into a friend the other morning just before school drop-off who was dressed to the nines. “Where are you headed?” I asked, still clad in some variation on my pajamas. “Work!” she exclaimed with a big smile on her face. “It’s my first day!” And though I was happy for her, my heart also sank. Because I, too, wanted to be darting out the door to somewhere important. Instead, I’d be heading upstairs to my home office, where I can at best manage a saunter from my bathroom to the computer.

My husband and I have an expression for that feeling you get when you order something at a restaurant and then immediately regret it when your dinner partner’s plate arrives. We call it “order envy.” This applies in the work world as well. When you run into a friend who’s rushing to jump on the Tube or furiously tapping out a message on her Blackberry or leaving early from the PTA meeting because she’s got a conference call – and you actually feel envious rather than relief that you don’t have her life – you know that you’re ready to look for a job.

2. You put too much energy into projects that don’t require it.  I saw a friend of mine back in the States recently whose wife had just gone back to work after seven plus years at home with their kids. “Wow! That was fast!” I commented, as only months earlier she’d seemed completely ensconced in her domestic routine. “Yeah, well, she kept talking about re-doing the kitchen this summer and I finally turned to her and said: You need a job!” Partly, he wanted her to earn some income before they invested in major household renovations. But mostly, he told me, he felt that  – in her particular case – the energy she was going to pour into their kitchen could be more fruitfully deployed somewhere else. (Happily for their marriage, she agreed. I could easily imagine a less diplomatic response.) In my own case, lack of gainful employment tends to make me over-invest in my kids, which is unhealthy both for them and for me. So if you find yourself caring a wee bit too much about something that you wish occupied your attention less, get out that resumé and get cracking.

3. You finally buy a smart phone. Yeah, I know. I’m probably the Last of the Mohicans here, but until about three weeks ago, I’d gone five years with a generic, no-bells-and-whistles cell phone, even while iPhone mania raged all around me. This decision was partly driven by my husband’s (well-founded) fear that if I ever got my hands on a smart phone, the family would never see me again. But mostly it was driven by the fact that without a full-time, out-of-home job, I didn’t really feel that I needed one. In anticipation of the coming Tube rides and conference calls-on-the-go (see #1), however, I’m now the proud owner of an HTC Desire.

4. You get active on Linked In. If you’re not a member of the social networking giant, Linked In, I heartily recommend that you join. Linked In is a fabulous tool for building professional relationships of all sorts. As a journalist, I’ve often used it to solicit views/find sources for stories I write. But it’s also – perhaps even primarily – a great way to find a job. A freelance writer friend of mine here in London recently found full-time employment via Linked In. She swears by the (free!) webinar, LinkedInfluence. (You need to be a member to view.) As I write this, I just went and updated my profile. Yippee!

5. Coffee mornings no longer appeal to you. The flip-side of having “order envy” vis a vis your friends’ jobs is that you will also start to find coffee mornings tiresome. I love my friends and I love going for coffee. But lately, my desire to participate in purely social coffees – as opposed to networking coffees – has diminished considerably. And don’t think about asking me to a coffee where I don’t know anyone. One of the nadirs of my social life this past summer was attending the “welcome” coffee for the newly-renovated Giraffe café in Hampstead. It was basically me and ten other weirdos who clearly had nothing better to do on a Tuesday morning in August but chat with strangers over stale croissants and muffin baskets. Taxi?

How about you? Have you ever had a burning (non-economic) feeling that you needed to get a job? Or quit one?

 

Image: Inside the Tube by Wootang01 via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

When Freelancing Isn’t Enough

As I believe I mentioned a few weeks back, I’m currently looking for a full-time job.

This is something I’ve been slowly working up to over the past year or so, a decision borne  partly of economic necessity and partly of personal choice.

I’ve worked as a freelancer writer for the past five years. And I have absolutely loved the flexibility it has afforded me vis a vis my family as well as the various projects I’ve pursued during that time (e.g., writing a novel, starting this blog, getting super-involved in the PTA).

At  the end of the day,  however, it is incredibly hard to make a living as a freelancer, especially during a recession.

That was OK, for a while. I didn’t really mind not making a ton of money, because I was investing in growing my platform and most importantly, I was having fun. But now that we are looking to purchase a home (and p.s., London housing prices would appear to be immune to the global economy), it has become clear that if we want to put our family of four into something larger than a bread box, we need to have a serious second income.

But it’s not just about the money. I think that even if I were a gazillionaire, I’d probably be looking for a full-time job right now. For better or for worse, I was born to work. Call it an excess of energy. Call it an identity crisis. Or call it tired of doing pick-up every day after school. Whatever the cause, I’m at a point in my life where I really want to put my heart and soul into something outside of my family – and my own mind – and get paid for it.

I’ve always been a firm believer that – to the extent that one has a choice (which most women don’t) – decisions about work/life balance should come down to your gut. When I moved to London five years ago, what felt right was working part-time and investing a lot of time and energy into the kinds of things – like writing – that I simply didn’t have time for when I produced a daily talk show for public radio with two small kids at home.

But life is pendulum and now it’s swung the other way. My gut is telling me that it’s time to go back into the work force, if not full time, then very close to it. (Wednesday’s post will explain how I came to that conclusion.)

So these days, I’m busy hanging out my shingle wherever and whenever I can. The good news is that I may be one of the few people out there who actually enjoys looking for work. Part of that is my love of change. But I’m also one of those weird people who actually *likes* looking for jobs. I love the way writing a cover letter forces you to think about how your particular background and skill set make you suited to one job or another. Re-imagining yourself in this way also gives you more self-confidence going forward.

So off I go. I’m sure I’ll have loads more to say about this journey as it kicks into high gear. For now, I just try to start every day with a healthy round of that 80’s classic, Nine To Five

 

Image: Dolly Parton, Hollywood Bowl July 23, 2011 by MargaretNapier via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.