Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Confessions From a Stay-At-Home Dad

The baby monitor on my bedside table comes to life and jolts me out of my deep sleep. I check the time. Dawn is still an hour away, but I silently cheer a full night’s sleep. I have a phone interview for a part-time role scheduled for this afternoon, so I have planned a busy morning for my son in the hope that he will have a long afternoon nap.

My wife and I have recently swapped roles - she has returned to full-time work and I resigned from my marketing communications role to stay at home with our 18-month-old son. I love the change, but it’s not without its challenges. Epic sleep battles, tantrums in public, long waits in the doctor’s office, nappy changes in the boot of my car, and that could be just one morning.

I am currently looking for part-time work to help supplement our household income, keep one eye on my career progression and have something of my own to achieve other than being a dad. My son is in day-care two days a week, which allows me to attempt to juggle work with my dad responsibilities. To date I’ve had a few hours of freelance work here and there, but most of my time has been devoted to actually finding work opportunities.

What is a Career path?

I am not overly enamoured of the traditional job recruitment market. It often seems that if your CV doesn’t include local experience in a role very similar to the one they are hiring for you simply won’t get an interview. Frequently I wonder if a consultant has actually read my CV, or do they simply spin it through a keyword search software program to assess whether it’s a perfect match with a role’s Key Selection Criteria. There is very little time invested in discovering a candidate’s unique qualities, skills or experience; and as such there is a lack of innovation in the industry.

I have not followed a ‘traditional’ straight and narrow career path, but instead opted for a winding route seeing me work in roles in event management, marketing communications, and social media. I have also gained international experience working in the Middle East. I believe my experience provides a diverse perspective; however, where I see versatility, passion, and discovery, recruiters tend to only see limitations.

Online recruitment sites are basically more of the same too. Seek can be a fantastic resource, but at times it’s really seems like one big gigantic black hole that sucks that amazing application you spent hours slaving over into oblivion.

Attempting to find part-time work through the traditional recruitment avenues has been a challenge. At the same time, I am also well aware that this challenge can be significantly harder for people who do not share my “privilege”. Privilege being the idea that certain demographic traits - white, male, middle class, young (ish), able-bodied, for example – give people specific benefits in society. Many organisations appear to be taking steps to create a diverse workforce, but in reality Australia still has a very long way to go. The recruitment industry must play a significant role in this process.

The industry is ripe for significant disruption and innovation. I have had more luck to date discovering roles through my personal network and a number of non-traditional recruitment businesses than traditional methods like Seek. These companies are trying to harness the power of informal networks and highlight difference over uniformity. They recognise that there is a significant market of diverse professionals with untapped skills and experience, and a fast growing demand from small businesses for affordable and flexible expertise. Both these groups need to find ways to connect with each other. This is where the challenge lies and where my job search continues.

My son has finally gone off to sleep and I have three minutes to spare before my phone interview! If only I could use that as an example of my strong planning and operational skills. I sit down at my desk with my notes open, glass of water on one side, baby monitor on the other. I say a little prayer to the sleep Gods and wait for my phone to ring (on silent of course).

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