Tag Archives: going back to work

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 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.