Returning to the workforce for the second time this year

Unless something goes horribly awry in the next couple of days, I will be starting a full time job again on October 13, which will make it very easy to find something to be thankful for on October 12, Canada’s Thanksgiving Day. As I prepare to return to gainful employment, I’ve been thinking about how I feel a lot more than I did when I went back after maternity leave.

When I returned to work in January, after 9 months of maternity leave, I was genuinely looking forward to it. I had the promise of new challenges, new responsibilities and I liked both the work and my co-workers. Sure, the organization had it’s share of problems and I had my frustrations just as any other worker, but it never even occurred to me that I wouldn’t go back. I knew that my priorities had changed and I wouldn’t be willing to put in the hours I had prior to having a child. That’s normal, though, and my boss seemed to expect that from the moment I told him I was pregnant. I thought I was going back to the perfect job for a new mom.

Unfortunately, things really didn’t go as I’d expected and it was a real let down. By the time I was actually laid off – which was only partially a shock - even if I did feel as if my world had tipped upside down – I wasn’t too disappointed that I was leaving. Disillusionment can do that to you. Of course, I would have stuck it out if I’d been given a chance (in the hopes that things would improve), but perhaps that wasn’t the best path for me. I do believe that everything eventually works out for the good.

Having the summer off was good in many ways. I got to spend more time with Brandon, with friends and also doing a few projects. My biggest problem was that I like structure and having a defined purpose. Without an employer, I sometimes felt lost. It's hard to create structure and define a purpose for yourself if you're in limbo, which I was, not knowing when I'd find a new job. Fortunately, it hasn’t taken nearly as long as I feared to find the right job.

Ever since my first call with HR at my soon-to-be-employer, I’ve had a gut feeling that I would get this job. It’s only now that I’m committed that I wonder if I’ll enjoy the work. Will I like my co-workers and get along with them? Will the organization be a good one to work for? Will I be challenged and have opportunities to grow? None of these questions are answered in an interview and it takes more than a day, a week and sometimes even longer to find the answers after starting. My biggest hope is that the rightness I’ve felt about this position will turn out to be good instinct and not bad. Part of me feels terrible to be so wary, but each time I move to a new job, it takes me a little bit longer each time to observe and absorb what I need to make a judgment, primarily because I don't want to be the one caught wearing rose-colored glasses. (I'm naive. It happens.)

In the meantime, I’ve got a million things to do to get ready: get a haircut, make sure I’ve got enough clothes in the proper dress code, get a bus pass, etc. This is an exciting time and I’m looking forward to getting back to work, even if part of me is anxious about all the unknowns.

Note: This blog is about my personal thoughts, opinions and activities. I may mention work in general terms from time to time, but I will never specifically mention any organization I work for by name – past or present – or reveal any information about what they do.

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Isn’t there some sort of etiquette to layoffs?

 

So, this past week got kinda sucky. Monday, I had 6.5 hours solid of meetings at work and the majority included my boss, who was really crabby and unpleasant to be around. I was personally also pretty crabby because Brandon had yet another fever and I had finally reached my limit with the constant illness in our little family over the past two months. The bottom line was that my boss and I were definitely butting heads a bit and because Monday was crappy, my attitude Tuesday was pretty cynical and it didn’t get much better when my one on one was delayed for an hour. Of course, at 11am I found out why it was delayed - my boss had been composing a letter to lay me off.

I won’t lie - I cried a little. Now I wish I hadn’t. He sat in my office telling me that it had nothing to do with performance (I believe that) and that he would like me to possibly come back in the future (I believe that as well). So, I was told I could work out the rest of the week, which I don’t think is necessarily common for layoffs, but I know my boss trusts me.

The thing that really stumped me was that after he laid me off, I got zero direction as to what to do the rest of the week. I probably had less than 20 minutes of conversation with him the entire week, including when he laid me off. I felt like the red-headed step-child and it was excruciatingly awkward. I felt like telling him that he needed to get a grip and that the situation was his doing, not mine.

After the first couple of days, I just figured it wasn’t worth getting upset over. The situation is what it is and there is absolutely nothing that I can do to change it, so I’m just looking forward to the opportunities ahead of me. I certainly wish my former employer the best, along with all my former co-workers. They are an awesome group that I will sincerely miss. Good co-workers are often few and far between and these people are my friends as well.

Ultimately, I gave my best effort in my last week of work, trying to make things as easy as possible for the people who will take over for me after I’m gone. I don’t like leaving other people messes that have be cleaned up. By the end of the week, I was resigned to the fact that my job was gone and feeling really good about it. The timing is good and now I’ve got nothing but opportunities ahead of me; a blank slate, if you will. I can choose to make the best of it or squander it by staying angry or bitter. I’m disappointed in the way things played out when I left and I wish that my boss had been more open with me, but it didn’t happen that way.

Matt and I are thinking about all the different scenarios of what could happen in the next few weeks. We’re analyzing it and figuring out what our limits are and what we’ll do if things don’t go well with my job search. I’m choosing to stay positive and have an open mind. We’re going to be fine one way or another. I’m talented and competent and every employer I’ve ever had has been more than happy with my abilities and contribution, regardless of how my employment ended. I found out from an employment agency that knows me well that one of my former bosses still - 5 years later - asks for candidates like me to fill her positions. Considering that the job was so awful that I quit before I had another job (and she knew this), I’d say she was happy with me. Because of that, I’m confident that I can find something sooner than later.

Time to get to work on it now, though!