Thursday, February 25, 2010

Necessities for my bedside

This week I’ve been struggling to inspire myself to blog. Some weeks, when the mood strikes, I could sit and write at my computer all afternoon. Other weeks I stare at my potential blog topic-list and just can’t find inspiration to expand on those ideas.

How do you find inspiration?

Usually for me it’s when my mind is quiet. As a kid, embarrassingly enough, my bright ideas came to me… in the bathroom. Bizarre, right? With a 4 year old and a nosey dog, the bathroom is not the serene getaway that it used to be for me. These days, my mind settles and brilliance strikes when I’m either a) shampooing my hair or b) about to drift off to sleep.

Last night after a marathon of catching up on DVR’ed shows, in the still of almost drifting off to la-la land, I started to write my next blog entry. I even thought to myself, HA! I don’t even need to write this down, because I KNOW I’ll remember it when I wake up tomorrow morning.

Not quite.

Where do you do your best thinking? On a long drive? In the bathtub? While working out? Wherever it is that you find inspiration, ensure that you have the ability to capture it. I sure wish I did last night!

Although I already have a pad of paper on my bedside table, I’m headed upstairs to place the all mighty pen on top of it. Heck, maybe I’ll bring two- just in case.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Flexible Work Arrangements

When I was pregnant with my first child and working full time, my husband found a fantastic job opportunity that meant we would relocate. A perfect scenario for a pregnant wife? For some. After the birth of our daughter my challenges included sleep deprivation, a limited knowledge of my new city, and lack of adult interaction. Going from full time work in an industry that I loved to become a full time stay at home mom was a shock to the system. I stayed at home for a year. A long, rough year.

After dusting off the ‘ol resume I had a question in front of me: Should I go back to work full time or part time? Not only is this a financial choice for most families, but the question of daycare and professional fulfillment compound the weight of the decision.

During my months of searching for my next great opportunity I found a company that opened my eyes to a new world: The flexible work market.

Kella Hatcher and Maryanne Perrin, founders of Balancing Professionals, believe that a “one-size-fits-all” workplace model is no longer sustainable for businesses, individuals, or communities. The inspiration for starting their business was shaped by many things including their personal experiences working in successful part-time leadership roles and the growing pool of high-caliber talent they encountered seeking flexible work arrangements.

After reformatting my resume into a skills-based resume rather than chronologically, I had the pleasure of meeting 1:1 with Maryanne who got to know me, my skills, my expertise and what I was looking for in my career. From there, the Balancing Professionals team goes to work looking to pair candidates with employers seeking the same talent.

I had a fantastic experience with the entire process. I even got as far as a 3rd interview with a marketing agency who was really interested in hiring me. Simultaneously, as part of my own job search, I was called into interview for a Full Time position within a large pharmaceutical company looking to expand its marketing team.

From my bio, you’ll know that I ended up taking the position with the pharmaceutical company, but it wasn’t without gaining a profound respect for the flexible work market as well as the folks over at Balancing Professionals who matched me with a great potential employer. If you are in the Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill area and are contemplating a flexible work arrangement, I highly recommend checking out the team over at Balancing Professionals.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What’s your daily worth?

DailyWorth is a free, daily email about personal finance for women. They provide money advice in simple, sassy servings.

“No one is going to fix financial inequity for women. We have to recognize our own self-worth, ask for higher salaries, invest more aggressively, and build our own wealth.”

No matter how many times I see statistics like these, it always seems to shock me.

Women still make only $0.70 for every dollar earned by men.

• Nearly two-thirds of working women earn less than $30,000 per year.

• Women retire with on average 1/3 less in savings than men, yet live on average 10 years longer.

Bottom line:

More than ever, money matters to women. We have to recognize our own self-worth and build our own wealth. Take control of your finances by signing up for DailyWorth.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Stay Organized, Look Professional & Travel with Ease

Career Bags had me at free shipping- on all purchases and returns exceeding $50. And for a durable, fashionable work-bag, I'd be willing to pay more than that.

Check out their best sellers- I'm sure you'll laptop will be happy to be toted around in one of these gems.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Is your employer getting cocky?

These are a few examples of what I’m seeing in today’s uncertain economic climate:

• Increasing health insurance premiums
     o Corporate byline: We may not be paying as much as we used to, but at least we’re still providing health insurance.
• Business trips extending through weekends infringing on employee personal time
     o Corporate byline: We expect you to be living and breathing our business. If you don’t like it- maybe you should be looking elsewhere.

It seems like some businesses are just daring employees to take action. But in this climate of unprecedented unemployment- the threat is just that, a dare. They know they have you. Job seekers and employers alike know what the job market looks like and they expect you to be grateful for the position you have no matter how much grief it gives you.

There is nothing like feeling like you are trapped in a black hole of despair, with no hope, no alternative. But, there are things you can do to help pull yourself out of that hole. If you feel like you are in a less than desirable work situation here are some steps to take:
Keep your resume updated at all times. Even when you are in a good work situation, you should always have your resume updated. By writing down your new skills and accomplishments it helps you to document your growth and is even more important when you are ready to pull the trigger for posting your resume to career sites.
Research the facts. Your insurance premiums just skyrocketed? Do you have other options such as your spouse’s place of employment? Open enrollment windows vary, so don’t overlook those important updates from human resources when they come through.
Take a deep look at what you want out of your career. Are you looking for something that pays the bills, but do you secretly want to start a side business that highlights your true passion in life? Penelope Trunk, founder and chief executive of Brazen Careerist suggests to “Look for something that’s the intersection of what’s interesting and what you can get paid for”. There is no question that you have to pay your bills. But if you’re using your spare time effectively to pursue other passions in life you never know when you’re going to hit gold.
Volunteer. By dabbling in a field that you think you might want to enter you might be able to gain experience without the pressure of a drastic career shift.

First and foremost, reflect on your individual situation. Everyone has their own personal risk tolerance level for career reinvention. Maybe there are some small changes you could make without even leaving your current place of employment, like having an honest conversation with your manager. Not a bad first step to take.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

“If you work really hard and are kind, amazing things will happen”

Do you recognize the quote? Its one that I can’t seem to get out of my mind since Conan O’Brien’s last broadcast. I’m not a die-hard late night TV watcher. Heck, I’m lucky if I see 10 o’clock. But I will say, I was excited when Conan took over The Tonight Show from Jay Leno. I saw the very first episode and 7 months later I was disheartened to see NBC folly.

If I wasn’t already on Team-Conan, he had me during his last two broadcasts. It was a professional and humble final speech which included an inspirational goodbye and the fabulous quote I mentioned above.

I have not been able to stop thinking about how true his statement is. I’ve been known to subscribe to the “Work Hard. Play Hard.” mentality but in all honesty, who wants to work and/or play with someone who isn’t nice? I’m sure all of Jay Leno’s staffers would stand up to say that their boss is the king-of-nice for saving their jobs, but I can’t help thinking that his ego brought him back to the Tonight Show without any regard for the career and livelihood of Conan O’Brien and his staffers.

I for one look forward to September to see where Conan lands. He’s already had offers from an adult-film company and the Mrs. Fields cookie company. Not sure those are the directions he is likely to head, but wasn’t that kind?