Working for spare change

Oh the guilt! Just went for another job interview. Although I hope we get it because we need the money it will mean baby boy going into full-time childcare 8.30 til 5. He has been in a childcare setting of one form or another since he was 9 months old but I have always managed to keep it to no more than 3 days per week. My only saving grace, if I get the job, is that he is now 3 and a bit years old so able to enjoy more of the typical activities on offer at nurseries.

As I browse through potentials though, I start to recall excerpts from a childcare documentary and the grieving family whose daughter suffocated to death in a Wendy house at a nursery. So any websites showing pictures of Wendy houses, particularly those with an upstairs (because the little girl suffocated on the window-ledge/step of the upper storey) made me wobble. 

You cannot put a price on a setting where you know your child will have a good and safe experience while you are working. But when this cost eats significantly into your earnings you wonder why you do it in the first place.

Then there is the issue of the dogs, we can’t bear to part with them so that will be £200 per month so they get a decent walk everyday. 

With any luck I will have some spare change at the end of the month to pay for parking at work..

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

Rejection

No matter what age you are, or your situation, rejection is always hard. I was told I was unsuccessful in a recent interview and the member of the panel who interviewed me gave me the corporate version of ‘its not you, its me’. There was a stronger candidate with a bigger skills set apparently. I put it down to an interrupted career of child rearing therefore I dont stand a chance against someone who has worked without a break since University – fair play to them.

It does affect how you perceive other job adverts though, as it discourages you from adverts that could be at the limit of your experience and skills levels. A lot of work goes into the application and interview process so you dont want to time-waste for the sake of either party. Therefore I am tempted to drop a few grand off the salary and play it safe to bridge that skills gap to the higher echelons of the salary bracket. The only down-side is childcare costs which bring the monthly net income down considerably to the point where its in the hundreds rather than the thousands – working hard for not very much is the state of play for any working mum these days,particularly mums of younger children.

But in an employer’s market, mums are not so appealing as employees, especially so in these leaner, meaner times.

The upside of this news however is that it buys me more time with my children and I enjoyed a lovely afternoon helping my daughter spend her birthday vouchers in the high street. I was impressed with her choices to update her bedroom – a lamp and a bin – very grown-up. She also observed me giving money to a homeless person in the subway and I said to her I hoped he would spend it on something remotely healthy. As we walked back past him later, his bottle of orange juice was rolling away from him, so I picked it up and gave it back and noticed he had a big pack of chocolate cookies too. My daughter saw that the money had been spent to make his life more bearable and it was good to know it may have helped him in some way. Thankfully he also had a sleeping bag and warm gloves. I cant ever recall seeing a homeless person in this particular city before and wondered what led this young guy to sleep rough in a subway. I reminded my daughter that he may be someone’s brother and/or son – therefore we turn a blind eye to no-one.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

The careers race – who will win?

My husband and I are engaging in a careers race. His body is broken and he needs to switch into the slow lane, my career has ground to a halt as most of you know thanks to the HMRC. But to get a job that makes childcare worthwhile, i need an experience level that i havent had the chance to attain. No wonder most women leave it til their forties before they have children, because then they at least stand half a chance of earning enough after childcare to make it worth their while (assuming they spent their twenties and thirties climbing the ladder). I spent my twenties and thirties in labour/toddler groups and voluntary roles  sandwiched between two dead-end jobs.

So when my husband eggs me on to go for the ‘big roles’ that I know i dont have a cat in hell’s chance of even getting to interview, i start to get frustrated by what is expected – Mum and career woman – aahh! I give it my best shot while cursing i wasnt born with a willy.

Then i moan at my husband for not focusing enough on his career change because of the continued effort to bring the pennies in – you cant really blame him for that can you?

All the while i wonder how many couples are going through the exact same issues and what, if anything, can be done about it?

At the moment we are taking the machine gun approach to job applications – a fast-track route to feeling rather shit about yourself rather quickly.

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

A Bridget Jones response

I have not updated you on the outcome of my last minute job application that I was up until midnight completing before we went on holiday. I made it through to interview and prior to the interview bought a suit I would not normally consider buying because it was ££££  so that I looked my very best. My Mum always said, “don’t dress for the job you are in, dress for your next move up the career ladder”. The only problem is you have to do this on the salary of the ‘job you are currently in’. I have deliberately kept the tags in the suit with a view to returning it and claiming a refund once this interview process is over.

I have just learnt today that I have been invited back for a second interview during which I will have to give a presentation in front of the senior management team, who happen to be all male. The feedback is they like me so far but have questions over strategic leadership. So now I have come over all Bridget Jones and have responded to the challenge just as she would have done – a nice chilled glass of wine or two. Anything to stop the buzz of ideas in my head as I start to mentally put a campaign together. It is not easy to balance the requests of this task with the demands of being a working mum, which is why the evenings will be the only time I have to bash out a five year strategy, in accordance with their brief.

There is a part of me that relishes the challenge and a part that dreads it – similar to the feeling of a first ride on a rollercoaster. This task is made all the more challenging as baby boy and daughter have bad colds so night-times aren’t the best. I care a lot about this potential role as it is a business that provides life changing opportunities for children from different social and cultural backgrounds. So forgive me this week if my posts are a little short. Once this week is over normality can return and I will resume reports on the highlights of Disney and the Caribbean.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. If you like this blog please donate to the campaign here.

Thanks for reading.

Why job interviews can be fun

Reflecting back on times in my working life that have made me laugh and, funnily enough, some of the most entertaining moments have been during job interviews. As a student I needed some extra money to fund the purchase of more Snakebite pints at the student union. I noticed the advert for a sales assistant at the Disney Store and for some reason thought that it would be fun. I found myself (on my second interview for God’s sake!) being judged on how well I performed the pixie dust song. Highly Americanised, the managers expected you to ‘spread the magic of pixie dust’ over your colleagues and customers. I didn’t know what to think when they gave me the job – was I that good at spreading pixie dust – maybe Snakebite actually helped? I could tell you a lot more funny moments at the Disney store – but will save those for another blog.

At the height of my career after graduating, I was interviewed by a Formula One team. Their office was a jaw-droppingly handsome building – more glass than a Grand Designs project, complete with man-made river sweeping past and waterfall to complete the idyllic picture. You could see all the amazing tech and more pristine swanky poshness just standing outside – but how the bloody hell do you get in the building? It was not obvious, well not to me anyway. I walked very slowly to the building to buy me thinking time as to where the door was located. However I soon arrived at what I assumed was the front of the building still none the wiser. I could see a blonde svelte looking receptionist sitting behind a bomb-proof swanky fast-looking desk. She looked at me and I looked at her. I hoped that she was used to people standing in front of the glass doors with a confused ‘how the fuck do I get in’ expression on their face. If so she wasn’t giving any clues. It started to become an uncomfortable length of time standing in front of a building. So, to make it better I started to randomly press panels of glass in front of me. At which point, the young Joanna Lumley looking receptionist smirked and then slowly sauntered over to let me in – just by pushing  a few buttons – and then svish svish I was allowed in. Despite this I got the job, even when on my third interview I was asked to create a Q&A briefing sheet and just came up with questions not answers – Doh!

There are other times when you just know it isn’t going to work out and that the hard-nosed bitch in front of you will make your life hell if you get through the interrogation otherwise called an interview. It is times like this when I abandon all hope and start to have some fun instead by dropping in the odd random comment to test their reaction. Once at a Sainsburys interview that wasn’t going anywhere, I suggested they could start using edible bags creating a tasty way of recycling. Oh the chilling north hemisphere stare I got for that was priceless.

Trying to be professional at all times can be a challenge. Once I was doing a telephone interview for a graduate trainee programme while working as a stable hand. Everything was going well until a horse started to snort in the background and I had to explain the reason why and my credibility sunk to a big flat zero.

The great thing about job interviews is the little glimpse you get of the organisation and the people and you never know what random questions they might ask you and what random tests they are going to put you through. So if you have a job interview coming up, don’t sweat. Just enjoy the ride and if they don’t like the package you come in tough shit. I know I have roughly a 80% success rate with interviews to date…..so maybe actually enjoying the process shows – who knows?

If you found this entertaining/ useful/ a good way to pass a minute please can you donate to Unicef, the whole reason why I blog.

Thanks for your time.