It is not often than I get work connections through my family – mainly because they still don’t know what I was doing before having kids and more comprehensibly what it is I actually want to do now. My sister’s boyfriend once candidly asked: ‘I am confused…your sister has two Masters in Business and Management, worked in Market research, then studied a Masters in Development studies because she wanted to save the world and then took some accessories design classes at the Fashion Institute Technology …I am lost’. What is truly awful about this is that my career schizophrenia has been correctly articulated by a 21 year old boy. I don’t know what is going on but younger generations seem so much more together and so much more serious. Perhaps one of the many consequences of the economic recession: the youth is scared shitless of being unemployed for the rest of their lives. People in our 40s; let’s watch out because our competition is ruthless. Mark my words: they will eat us alive.
Ok back to the topic … For once I had a family connection, an ‘aunt’ with at least three degrees of separation and through marriage but it still counts. Can you feel how desperate my job search has become? My aunt thus hooked me up with a headhunter for a ‘please find me a well paid job’ coffee chat. After my one hour meeting, my first one since 2010 that did not involve talking about my eggs, measuring my hormonal levels, monitoring my fetuses’ growth or weighing my kids, I learnt a lot. A lot about what not to do at a first meeting after your maternity leave:
1- do not forget to ask people’s cell phone number. It is obvious but somehow two years with my head in dirty diapers made me forget this simple rule. It would have avoided the awkward search around in one of the busiest Starbucks coffee shops in town, which leads me to
2- even though you are not working you should have in mind business like places for meetings in business areas because people who work will NEVER come all the way up to Harlem for a coffee in your local quiet Senegalese bakery. And you want to look like you are in charge and know the cool places.
3- Do not start talking about your résumé while looking for a coffee place because they are not listening!!! It is cold, it is early in the morning, they have caffeine withdrawal so you should really shut up…in fact the next rule is probably the most important
4- you have missed conversation with another adult, especially one that makes you feel that you are more than a breeding cow or a living exercauser but it is not a reason to start sharing every single detail about your life. Repeat after me: A HEAD HUNTER IS NOT YOUR BFF (Best Friend Forever). They don’t care about you not sleeping because your little brats wanted to watch TV at 3am. They do not care!
Anyway despite my verbal diarrhea the headhunter managed to pep talk me: strong résumé and logical career moves (the key word here being logical my friends). He told me to write down the top 5 companies I wanted to work for and he would check if he had any connections. He seemed confounded that I could not answer straight away but I am sure he would have struggled with my spontaneous list: Alexander Wang, the Ford Foundation, any big Women’s rights organizations, President Obama and myself…
Not sure where this meeting would lead me but it was worth doing this exercise if only to wear grown up clothing and get the free coffee.