Monday, October 12, 2009

On the Mend and Reassessing

My wrist will not require surgery, and I will be out of the cast next week.Then onward to physical therapy! In the meantime,I have stopped actively looking for work, as I am on workers comp, and not sure if or when I will be able to return to my merchandising job.
I have been attending an employment group, which is aimed at providing support to local job seekers. It is nice to be able to get feedback from other people on resumes, job hunting, etc. Lots of talented people in the group looking for work.

I got a call today for a job interview, for a receptionist position. I honestly do not even recall applying for it. I turned down the interview, as I am not actively searching until I decide what to do about the merchandising job.

My employment group is providing us with a "webinar" on Linkedin, which will hopefully aid us in networking.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Back To The Drawing Board.....

Three weeks ago, just after a training session on my new job, I tripped and broke my wrist. I did not realize when I took the job that I would be required to store large boxes of supplies( metal hooks and plastic strips) at my home. My supervisor gave me the boxes, and told me to take them home. I got the large and unwieldy boxes into my car with no problem. However, when I got home I tripped when I removed the first box.I fell towards the wall of my house, and quickly decided to stop my fall with my hand, not my head.
I have been in a cast for three weeks, and will find out this week if I will need surgery. I am certainly re-evaluating this line of work. I have always been very fitness conscious, so this has been a real blow to me. I will not be cleared to work for several months.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Career Field to Consider

I have not even started training in my new merchandising job ( I start this week!), but I do know that many positions in this field are willing to overlook lack of experience. A good web site where you find merchandising jobs is Narms stands for National Association for Retail Marketing Services. Most jobs listed on this site are part time, and many do not require experience. Putting in a year, or possibly two, in a job like this will at least add experience and references to your resume! Merchandisers typically handle ordering, stocking and maintaining of specific products at retail stores. You will actually find many stay-at -home mothers in this field, as it allows for flexible part-time hours.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lack of Experience and the Stay at Home Mom

Lack of experience is the biggest obstacle preventing the stay at home mom from finding a job. In my personal experience, you really have to sell yourself, and make sure the potential employer knows why they would benefit from hiring you. I had one employer who did have a strong interest in me, due to my knowledge of food, especially gourmet food. (I did not pursue that opening,however, as it turned out to be just a deli clerk position). It is vital to try and find something in the job opening that fits your skills, and sell that fit to the employer.
In the case of the job which I just landed, it is a local job, so I sold the fact that I lived nearby, and I also talked about the fact that I am highly organized, which is a must for the job.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This Blog

I do intend to keep this blog up, as I do not feel that my job seeking is over. I will only be working 10 hours a week. Also, the job I will be doing does not utilize my education or past training. It is a great start, and I hope to build on it. I plan to continue volunteering at a local hospital. I am also planning to study Quickbooks software at home. Additionally, I bought a business plan for medical billing advocacy, so I will be working on that. Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I finally got a job! It is in the field of merchandising, and will involve going to three different local grocery stores, and stocking specific items, making sure more items are ordered, etc. It will only be for about 10 hours a week, but at least I can build some work experience, and be able to get references. I am excited! I will continue looking for part-time work for the afternoons, as well.

I was beginning to get so discouraged, with so few responses to my applications. I could not even seem to get interviews. Especially disheartening to me were the attitudes of the doctor's offices where I applied for work. I have a certificate in medical billing, have run my own business, and also currently volunteer at a local hospital, as a receptionist. Despite this fact, one doctor told me that she was hiring someone with more experience ( for a file clerk job). Another doctor had an opening for a receptionist. I called to check on the opening, and was told that he had written on my resume: "No experience". It was also discouraging to apply to so many local firms, and not get any response. One would think that being local would help. A local grocery chain ignored my application completely. Then there was Home Depot, where I spent a good bit of time on the online application. When I went into the store to follow up, I was told that all positions had been filled months ago.
I am so relieved that I will be employed!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Wild and Crazy Summer!

So far, it has been a busy, busy summer, with two graduations, the arrival of my student who has been studying abroad for the last year, and of course, the ever-present job applications by me! I still have not found a job. I have updated my resume...again, had business cards made, and tried some new ideas for job applications. I applied for several positions at my local grocery stores, but have not received a single response.
I did get a call back for a merchandising position, and am waiting to hear more about that this coming week. However, the job would only be for 6 hours a week! My biggest obstacle to finding a job seems to be my lack of recent experience......

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Weekly Job Hunt

Once again, there were no new jobs to apply for this week, which I suspect might be a trend for the summer. I am working on another scoring project, however, once again for Pearson Education.It is certainly nice to feel useful, not to mention that it is nice to earn money as well. Today was Mother's Day, and I got an early morning phone call from my college student. My high school student went to work, and I cleaned, mowed the yard, and planted flowers! I plant flowers every year, because here in Illinois this is the date when it is safe to put out annuals. I also called my mother. A nice Mother's day was had by all.

Friday, May 8, 2009

No More Pencils, No More Books??

One of the recommended strategies for the stay- at- home mom is to update her skills, prior to seeking a job. In today's working world, computer skills are essential. I took my first computer class in 1998 ( Windows) and then took a class in keyboarding and one in Microsoft Word. I learned to download music with Napster
( thanks to my kids), and also learned how to sell on eBay. For a short time ( when I was really unloading excess possessions) I was a Powerseller on eBay.
In 2002 I took a detour and took three classes in Real Estate Appraisal. On the first day of class, our instructor announced, "there are no jobs in this field". We all laughed appreciatively, thinking he was joking. He was not. In the state of Illinois, a newly licensed appraiser must apprentice with a licensed appraiser for several hundred hours, and therein lies the catch, as it is virtually impossible to find anyone to take you on. An exception to this would be the several licensed realtors in our class, who had established connections. Nevertheless, I went on to get my license, and found the training personally useful, and hopefully relevant for the day that I buy my next house.
In 2004 I began coursework in Medical Billing, and took nine classes in areas such as coding and insurance. I have been unable to find a job in this field since everyone is seeking Experience. I have been volunteering at my local hospital for over a year now, and remain hopeful that eventually I will be able to land a billing job.
In the past year, I took an online course( a money-saving way to take classes!) in Microsoft Excel.I am also starting an at home class in medical billing advocacy, and may take an online course in Quick Books.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


I did not submit any new applications, and am still waiting to hear from the hospital about my pending application. I did find out that the woman who interviewed me has been laid off, as have many other hospital employees, all non-essential ones. This was a very ironic development. I have been focusing my energies on completing my first scoring project, and also looking into some further education and starting my own business. Also, I have decided not to move right now, which has simplified my current life considerably.
Whenever I feel discouraged, I think of these words from now-President Barack Obama, in The Audacity of Hope:
If there's one thing that social conservatives have been right about, it's that our modern culture sometimes fails to fully appreciate the extraordinary emotional and financial contributions-the sacrifices and just plain hard work-of the stay-at-home mom."
Quite honestly, I never thought that I would have this much trouble finding a job, as I feel I have much to offer to an employer.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Childcare Jobs? Mary Poppins or not.........

If you have raised one or more children, perhaps it has occurred to you to apply for a childcare job. It does seem logical, especially if you feel you have a knack for handling children. I started looking at local childcare "help wanted" ads several months ago, and found it rather eye opening. Many of the ads in my area specified that one would have to do laundry, cleaning, and even children's ironing! I found myself wistfully recalling the Mary Poppins books, where there was a maid and a cook, in addition to the aforementioned caretaker of children. For now, at least, I have ceased looking at childcare ads.

My Weekly Job Hunt

A truly boring week for me, in terms of no new jobs to apply for. However, I am so busy with my scoring work, that I have little time to worry. I did get called in to the hospital, where I had interviewed for a job several weeks ago. I was called in to take a math test, as well as a typing test. I have never taken a typing test in my life, but luckily I took a keyboarding class several years ago. No word yet from the hospital as to how I did. The typing test also made me recall my administrative job in the long-ago working world, where anything which I needed to have typed was given to our department secretary, and she typed it on her word processor. Very twentieth century. My scoring work has given me new found admiration for all single working mothers. I have found it very challenging to put in hours along with cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring, etc. etc. I am so very appreciative to the website for leading me to the scoring job!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Work At Home Blogs

I have mentioned Work At Home Moms several times, but have just found a new blog that is packed with information and help for mothers who want to earn money from home. It is entertaining as well, and now appears on my Google Reader, along with the many, many other readable items vying for my time....


Things that Eat my Time

In my quest to find a job, I have become increasingly aware of things that eat up my time. Every day I check job listings on Craigslist, CareerBuilder, SimplyHired,and I also check the websites for several local employers. I also get email from family and friends, but thankfully I get few forwards or spam -Thank You, GMail!.
I used to subscribe to the NY Times during the week, and the Chicago Tribune on Sunday. Now I read the NYT on Google Reader, along with several( ok, many) other blogs. Thanks to RSS feeds, I am in touch with news everywhere. Oh, and I check in daily with the Chicago Tribune website, CNN online, and sometimes FOX and MSNBC.
But it is my Google Reader which takes up so much time, as the NY Times has so many great articles. Many of the Opinion pieces have comments to read, as do many of the blogs.

My Weekly Job Hunt

No new activity this week, as far as new applications, responses to interviews, etc. This may be due to the holiday week, with both Passover and Easter cutting down on the work week for many. I did start my annual scoring job, with Pearson Education, and hope to put in as many hours as I humanly ( and accurately) can. I am certainly grateful to have this job, and enjoy scoring the math word problems. It is also nice to have a job that requires a college degree, as some of the jobs I have interviewed for do not, and it is nice to know that I have not wasted four years of my life!
The buying season also opened up, with rummage sales and even a few garage sales. I am seriously contemplating starting my antique business again, while I look for outside employment. I went to a really good rummage sale last week, and this weekend, I went to a block sale near Lake Michigan. There was a good deal of bad behavior by some of the notorious dealers, but luckily no pushing or shoving. If I do reactivate my business, I also intend to learn to use Quickbooks, which would be a useful employment skill

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Getting Organized!

If you have lots of time on your hands ( in other words, if no one is hiring you), it is a perfect time to get organized! First, throw out all broken items that are hanging around your house. However, be very careful in doing that, as I have had several experiences in which I threw out important items ( my student's ACT score report! My class pictures from P.S. 84!). It is also a positive experience to remember that there are always those less fortunate than oneself, and to actually donate some unwanted items. For the better items, spring is the perfect time for having a garage sale. A book which I have found inspiring is

****rather than buying the books which I mention on my blog, you can always request them from your public library!*****

Another, and newer book on clutter and organizing is :

My Weekly Job Hunt

I had two good interviews during the past week, one at the hospital, where I have been volunteering, and one at a local doctor's office. I view all interviews as opportunities to learn. The doctor's office was not a typical interview, as they had me sitting in the reception area(behind the reception desk) to see first hand what the duties of the job would be. I could not get a firm commitment as to how many hours the job would have, but am due to talk to them further this week. At the hospital, I first met with a very pleasant Human Resources rep, and then with a department manager. I am very comfortable in the hospital environment, and did not feel stressed at all during the interview.
I started my at-home job this weekend, online scoring with Pearson Education! This is my third year with them, and I found the job through Of course, everything happens all at once: job interviewing, at home job, and now the garage sale season has begun. I enjoy my work with Pearson, but of course I need more than two months a year of work. You must have a Bachelor's degree, and some teaching experience for this job.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Weekly Job Hunt

I did not apply for any new jobs this week, as listings were very sparse, but I did hear back from two employers. I have an interview scheduled with the hospital where I have been volunteering, and also one with a doctor.
I also am starting a one month scoring assignment with Pearson Testing, my third year with them. I first learned of this job from I have enjoyed the scoring work, but it is only for 1-2 months out of the year, typically in the spring.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Twenty- First Century Skills Needed!

Computer skills are needed for many jobs, especially in office work and education. Many workplaces use their own type of computer software, such as medical or accounting software, but nearly all jobs expect their workers to be able to use email, Windows, Word, and often Excel.An exception might be retail,but you would need to use a computerized cash register. There are many practical uses for all of these skills, especially in your job search. Microsoft Word is vital for cover letters and resumes. With Excel, you can make a spreadsheet of all of your job applications, with outcomes. Email is needed to send in most resumes.
I took my first computer classes in 1998, starting with Windows, then keyboarding and Word. Recently, I took an Excel class online(from ed2go), which I found to be an excellent learning method for me. I also encountered and used Microsoft Access in a medical billing class. If you are not up to date in your computer skills, now is the time to get busy!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My Weekly Job Hunt

Another slow week for help wanted ads! I answered one local ad for "general office work" in my area, and also answered an ad on Craigslist for a "receptionist in a holistic medical practice".
I also made some more changes to my cover letter. A brand new book, 10 Strategies for Reentering the Workforce, by Mary Ghilani, has this to say about gaps in employment history. "Generally, employers like to see a pattern of job stability and progression within your career. The best advice is to address an employer's potential concerns right up front in the cover letter. Indicate that you interrupted your career to raise your children, but that now you are in a position to resume your career." Good advice, and I have adapted my cover letter template accordingly.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My Weekly Job Hunt Report

This past week was a slow one for me, as there were NO new ads appearing that I could answer. I did put in two more applications at the hospital where I have been volunteering. I also heard back from the doctor with whom I had two interviews, and he had selected someone else with more experience.
Each day, during the work week, I check the following places for jobs :Craigslist(I search in many categories), I search for all jobs in my area),, and I also check the weekly ads in our local newspaper, and the job web site at 4 local hospitals.

Here is my interesting ad for the week:
"PA/Administrative needed to administrate and organize my art studio. Some art related oil painting studio duties, varied and interesting computer work. Cooking a plus."
I did not apply for this job, as I have no art related experience. Nor am I willing to cook for an employer. I guess I am just not suited for a personal assistant position. More later on knowing your strengths and weaknesses when applying for jobs....

Friday, March 13, 2009

Interviewing Tips and Tales

I have had three interviews so far in my search; two of them were at the same place. I also had the opportunity to go to a seminar run by Oscar Adler, who is a former salesperson, and has written a book called Sell Yourself in Any Interview. His approach focuses on finding the needs of each interviewer(potential employer) and selling them on your individual "features", and how you can benefit their organization.
It is very true that most of us go into interviews determined to showcase our own talents, but Adler feels that the focus should be on the employer, and what we can do for them.

Both of my interviews were with doctors, in very different settings, one in a more urban area with a small office, and the other in a very suburban area, with a larger office. Looking back on the interviews, it is hard to pin down what the two doctors were looking for, except for what they both mentioned when they followed up with me: Experience. I tried to point out my talents and past experience, but now realize that some of what I related might not have been useful to the two employers. Mr. Adler's seminar came after my interviews, but I intend to try his methods, starting with my next interview!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Got References?

References can be a big stumbling block for the mother who wishes to return to the workforce. Most employers wish for you to have several recent professional references. One way to deal with this is through volunteer work. If you hold a leadership position in a volunteer group, that is ideal. I have volunteered for the last year at a local hospital, and I see the Volunteer Manager when I go in each week. I have enjoyed the volunteer experience,and now also have a professional reference.
On the other hand, I also volunteered for many years with the PTA, and with our local swim club. I held no leadership positions,and I was one person in a very large pool of volunteers. I did stick with those jobs for several years, so they do deserve to be included in my resume, as was pointed out to me by a blog reader.

Working At Home

It is possible to find some jobs that you can do from your home, including running your own business. There are several good websites, but the one I like the best is WAHM ( work at home moms). A good guide on working from your home is Will Work From Home, by Tory Johnson and Robyn Freedman Spizman. I got a copy from the public library first, which I always do prior to buying a book.

No Time for Panic

If you are new to job hunting, or just realized that you must find a job now, there is no time for panic. First of all, assess your skills. Do you have up to date computer skills? If not, you can take courses at your local community college, or for even lower cost classes, try your local high school (night classes for adults). Do you have recent volunteer experience which might point you in a work direction?For example,volunteering at a school might lead you to applying to work at a school.

There are also quick and easy ways to raise money. Have a garage sale, either alone, or with a neighbor. In this poor economy, sales at thrift shops and garage sales are way up, as more people are looking for bargains. If you have lots of furniture to get rid of, you might consider a consignment shop, which typically splits its proceeds with you. A good one in my area is The Village Treasure House

How I got here.....

I have been a stay at home mother since 1986, when I had my first child. During my years at home, I never watched any daytime television, nor did I ever have the chance to join a book club, or a tennis group. I did all of our yard work, supervised the remodeling of our home, handled all the bills, and I had my own business,in antiques and collectibles.

After both of my children evidenced learning difficulties, I made the decision to home school, and did that from 1993-2000. The antique business went on the back burner. At that time, I was divorced, and began upgrading my skills, and trying various strategies to re-enter the workforce. I first learned how to use a computer,keyboarding, Word, and have continued on from there. Next, I got a real estate appraiser's license, but found no work in that field. I finally took several years of classes in Medical Billing....and now am out there, job hunting, with millions of others who are looking for work! I hope to share some of what I have encountered in the hope that other mothers (and others) can learn from my experiences and tips.