Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for job

In 2011, I quit my job as a manager at a bigass publisher to take care of Xena. I was deeply and madly in love with my job and it was not an easy transition. I didn't feel it so much in the first few months because Xena was in the ICU and I was shuttling between home and hospital all day long, with not much time or energy to think of anything else. Even after she was stable and got home, my days and nights were spent tending to her needs.

It was after almost half a year that I started to feel the withdrawal symptoms of quitting my job. However, Xena was not in a state where she could be left with anyone other than me at home, so I knew it would be years before I could go back to a real office. To make sure that I didn't go completely bonkers at home, I continued writing and editing, but on a freelance basis. This allowed me to regulate my workload based on Xena's health and needs, and also to keep in touch with the changes in the syllabus and trends in the industry. And of course, whatever money comes in is always a bonus, since I don't have my salary and perks anymore. Last year, on her doctor's recommendation, we put her in half-day preschool to get her to eat under the powerful influence of peer pressure. I started taking on more work as I had more time in the mornings when she was away at school.

Now I work a half-day shift from home in the morning, taking just enough work to nicely fill out that part of my day when Xena is at school. A lot of people ask me if I'll ever go back to work in an office. The answer is in the affirmative. Once Xena's health and eating improve, I'll consider going back to an office.

Provided they take me.

Though I have been in close touch with the industry's happenings and have not stopped working, I am aware that this gap of a few years could prove to be a disadvantage when I apply for an office job again, especially if I want to get back my managerial position. That is a little scary. I can imagine myself being questioned at the interviews on all the skills that are needed in a corporate environment, which they'd assume would have rusted in the years that I spent focusing only on Xena.

So I decided to do up an addendum to my resume. One that shows that even though in the last few years, my primary position has been 'mother', I've had plenty of opportunities to exercise the skills the position requires. (Honestly speaking, If I really were to take motherhood as a 'project', there is no question that it has been the most challenging one so far, with many layers of intricacies and complexities, and one that requires a multitude of skills to be used all at once.)

So here it is, dear interviewer, a list of reasons why you shouldn't hesitate to hire me, in spite of the break I took from the working world.

I am a leader. 
I lead a team, the size of which ranges from 2 to 3894738949837032. The reason is that although the more senior of the two members is relatively stable, the junior one can be quite a handful at times and under those circumstances, simply cannot be considered as a single headcount. Both staff members were personally hand-picked by me, and are competent and reliable. The more experienced of the two works mostly offsite, whereas the junior member works half day offsite and half day onsite. I am based mostly onsite and lead all operations from there.

I am a keen listener. 
My staff feel free to approach me anytime as I take the time to really listen to them. Though the senior member often spouts jargon, which I filter selectively, I take a deeper interest in what the junior member has to say. And I listen and I remember. I know who hit whom at school today, I know who peed and pooped how many times, I know who cried and who ate and who didn't eat lunch, I know who bought a new bag to school, I know who brought what for show and tell, and whose water bottle has which cartoon character. Heck, I even know the colours of her three teachers' water bottles.

I'm a team player.
The three of us make a very efficient team. We have established the perfect morning routine, where everyone works in tandem to get stuff done in record time. We wake up at 7 am. While I prepare the junior member's breakfast and snack box, the senior member brushes her teeth. Then as he gets himself ready for office, I get her dressed and seated in the high chair with her breakfast. While he feeds her, I make our breakfast. After she's done, I serve his breakfast. While he eats, I tie her hair and get her to put her socks and shoes on. And then they are off for their respective offsite operations.

I'm an independent worker. 
Every year, for a few weeks, the senior member is away on business trips, and then I'm a one-woman army dealing with the junior member, my own projects and all operations, all by myself. It is also at these times when junior member decides to become the equivalent of the 3894738949837032 staff members I'd mentioned earlier. Also, I encourage my staff members to pursue their hobbies in the weekends, and so the senior member goes off to play cricket on Sundays. He's out from 7 am to 7 pm, but onsite work doesn't stop even in the weekends, so once again I take full charge of everything.

I delegate.
Though most of the major operations are split between the senior member in my team and me, I delegate appropriate tasks to the junior member too, such as peeling garlic, boiled eggs, folding laundry and some dusting and sweeping. I carry out regular appraisals to praise her good performance and to give her feedback to address any shortcomings.

I'm deadline-oriented. 
I make sure that junior member and I never miss a single deadline for our respective projects. (As for senior member, he can handle his deadlines by himself. I've trained him well over the years.)

I am organised and detail-oriented.
I have to be very organised to run the operations. I have to be on top of everything, such as school projects, excursions, medical appointments, play dates, outings, nutrition, household chores, etc. I keep track of many small details -- library book due dates, parent-teacher meetings, birthday parties, buying the gifts for the birthday parties, new clothes waiting for junior member to grow and fit into, etc.

Also, the junior member in my team tends to take too many days of medical leave, but I have done a thorough background check and the reasons appear to be genuine. This, however, hinders some of the operations, such as my own projects. I have to be even more organised to make sure that none of my deadlines are missed due to her hospitalisations.

I'm goal-oriented. 
I set realistic goals for my team members and help them achieve the goals. The senior member used to report quite late in the evenings, and the reasons he gave inspired no confidence. We discussed and set a realistic goal of 7:30 pm on normal days, and 8:00 pm on crazy days, and an action plan (take the private fast bus instead of the public ones) and he is now able to meet the targets.

For the junior member, I set a target (10 kg) and used grassroot-level involvement and positive reinforcement to help her achieve it.

I handle stress well.
Junior member, due to her relative inexperience, often puts me in tough spots (think throwing up in a crowded bus) where I need to think on my feet and quickly find the best solution out of the stressful situation. I have implemented several instances of successful crisis-management.

I'm resourceful. 
I spend a good part of my day reading and learning about the latest developments in the field. I am part of motherhood groups and have contacts at my fingertips that I harness to find out anything I want within seconds, such as where can you buy styrofoam balls to make a model of a poodle for a class project, and where can you find ready-to-use icing for a birthday celebration at school, and who is the best pediatrician in the area.

I have a strong sense of CSR. 
I work with my motherhood groups to organise donation of baby items to be sent to organisations such as Babes, and children's clothes and books to be sent to orphanages in Cambodia. I volunteered at my junior member's school fund-raiser for the APSN.

I'm self-motivated. 
The last few years have not been an easy journey for me, but I have to keep myself motivated and positive and just march on.  

Happy? All right, gimme the job already.

Added on 16 April: I found this video and thought it was perfect to share on this post:


Arun said...

Noted: Facility with large numbers: 3894738949837032


Don't worry too much, you'll be fine whenever you head back to office work.

Arun said...

But I think you should write a novel.

??! said...

You be careful. Based on your skill-set, they may decide to instead offer you second-mommyhood ;)

... well, not personally offer you, if you know what I mean.

kanz said...

Write a novel...

Sri said...

Wow! You sure are a up-to-date with your skills!!

I was a SAHM for 2 years and when I got a call from my company, I was was hubby who motivated me to attend the interview and today it is about 2.5 years since I joined back...don't worry, we women are quick will be tough initially but we are very resilient..i had a colleague who was junior to me in experience(even after considering my break) and she was being paid the same salary as was painful when she told people I was older than her and earning the same as year down the lane, she had to quit and I got a promotion..

Thisisme said...

Wow! That's some bloody good skill set! I would say just add ur blog link to yr resume n that should do the magic..the interviewer will be hooked to it so much!

Porkodi (பொற்கொடி) said...

Hired! :-D

Porkodi (பொற்கொடி) said...

Hired! :-D

Porkodi (பொற்கொடி) said...

Hired! :-D

Porkodi (பொற்கொடி) said...

Hired! :-D

Porkodi (பொற்கொடி) said...

that's how strongly you are hired!

Thisisme said...

Oh god...saw the video! That's so touching n solo true too!!"

Sayesha said...

Thank you. :)
PS: A novel? LOL! Even my immediate family won't buy it. :/

LOL! That's one offer I'll have to reject. :)


Thank you. :)


Thank you! I hope the promotions and raises come at the same rate as your comments on this post. :P

Hehe... go hug your mom! :)

Arun said...

"PS: A novel? LOL! Even my immediate family won't buy it. :/"

--- I doubt any novelist's immediate family ever bought their books. They all expect it to be an autographed first edition gift from the author :)

Your market is the rest of us :)

Arun said...

LOL at the video you added! But I bet few people would become parents if they had to interview for the job. :) :) :)

Arun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ruminating Optimist said...

Wonderful Bhai! That is one skillset to be proud of. Hired, with no second thoughts or hesitation :)