Monday, 14 April 2014

Random thoughts on jobhunting

I’ve been so busy to post a lot on here (yet so many blog posts in my mind…the day that I can blog telepathically, you’ll see this blog explode from activity!) that I even forgot to mention until now that my job hunting is over.  As a rule I don’t post too much about my professional life on here and I had only briefly mentioned the fact that I was without job .  But  I’m happy to say that since 4 weeks already I’m back in business and it feels good to be working again.

Some miscellaneous thoughts on job hunting:
  • It takes much more time than anticipated if you want to do it well: work on your CV, on your network, research job leads, respond to recruiters, prepare interviews and go to interviews, … My mental picture that I’d be home idle with loads of time on my hands, wiggling my thumbs and getting all those household chores done that never seem to happen was a huge illusion.  All those household chores….are still outstanding and I’m now ironically enough trying to achieve some of them now on weekdays while juggling the new reality of being a working mother.
  •  It’s an illusion that you can job hunt 3 days a week and “enjoy” the time with Kabouter on the other days by only sending him part-time to the daycare.   Recruiters do not know this arrangement and contact you anyway and appointments get booked last-minute and need to be prepared.  So on my “days off” I often hoped that Kabouter would sleep a lot or Jan would be home and occupy him with Kabouter so I could continue.   On the other hand, the days that I was “working” also resulted in much less effective time than anticipated as I’d also felt obliged to do some grocery shopping, cooking,  …and I had to express milk multiple times a day etc etc.    In the end the “working/free” days distinction became rather vague.
  • The job market in Belgium is not as bad as I had feared it would be.  Obviously it depends how picky you are in the job requirements you are looking for but there are definitely some interesting jobs out there. 
  • Much to my relief, I seem to have an interesting profile to recruiters as I have not pursued any job opportunity pro-actively myself, but only responded to recruiters who contacted me.  However there is clearly much more activity on the ‘consulting’ market…a road I did not want to take.
  • On that last point, jobhunting taught me once again how much I hate to move to a new environment...something which is inherent to the life of a consultant.  
  • On that last point, it's pretty scary to say 'no' though. You don't know how many chances you'll get and I don't deal well with uncertainty, neither with making choices. Somehow I always focus on the potential loss in a choice so saying no to job offers that didn't attract me, was nevertheless stressfull & scary.
  • Stepstone is a big international firm, nevertheless their e-mails generated by the jobsearch I saved was full of dead hyperlinks. Argh, completely useless.  How unprofessional. 
  • Also very unprofessional are the arrogant recruiters that phone & e-mail me purely in French. It's not because I list myself correctly as bilingual that you shouldn't show me some respect and contact me in my own language.  Don't treat me so obviously as a "product" that you can also need me. I might be the perfect candidate you are looking for and therefore you can also do some effort to gain my interest.
    And no...I don't drop everything right away to drive to the center of Brussels only to find out a bit more on the job vacancy you have in mind:  first give me the minimum of information that ensures me that the meeting will be worth the effort.  Geez show some respect to potential candidates, even if they will not pay your invoice.
    Unforatunately for you, I've only truly engaged in a job application process with recruiters that were polite, informative & respectful.
  • It was the first time I used   Quite interesting, yet not that much information on Belgian firms yet. A pitty.

Other than that it's still strange to me that I am now on a strict schedule to leave work in time in order to pick-up Kabouter in time from the daycare rather than finish what I'm doing like I've always been used to do.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

#4mee April 12th day of street child

Since 4 years already, a lot of humanitarian global organisations claim April 12th as the international day for the street children and they lobby at the UN to make this day official.  So does Mobile School, the organisation where Jan has been volunteering over the last couple of years and where I'm getting a bit more involved myself this year.

Previous year there was a big awareness campaign on social media #nostreetkidding ending with an enormous chalk drawing on Leuven's major square. For several reasons we decided this year to do something smaller scale yet to fully celebrate & experience 12th of April with the group of volunteers of Mobile School. And maybe next year for the 5th time, we can repeat this scenario on a much larger scale...we'll see.

The idea was simple:  we will live & sleep & play on the street for 24 hours. Ok, I admit it, only a core group was outside for the full 24 hours and having a small baby was the perfect excuse for me to sneek home for the night (just around the corner as a matter of fact so it was easy to go back & forth all the time).

We started off with drinks & snacks on Friday evening after work. Then we got a Streetwize training on resilience & agility. Streetwize is the commercial sister company of Mobile School that commercializes corporate training formulas with competencies we can learn from street children. The profits from Streetwize fund currently 70% of the costs of the Mobile School operations.

After the training we skyped with 2 Mobile School colleagues that were on a mission in Nairobi, Kenia to train a new local partner NGO on the implementation of a local mobile school.

After some more drinks I took Kabouter home to a warm comfy bed where I left the others out with their sleeping bags, cardboard & fleeces.

But the next day we were ready again to bring the other volunteers, together with other relatives & sympathising fans, a lovely potluck brunch in the park.  With the sun out it was just warm enough to snooze, hang out, eat, play games , discover the different exercises on the mobile school and to #tweetforthechildren.



Friday, 11 April 2014

Shopping buddys

Kabouter always has a shoppy buddy coming along to the clothing stores, which makes shopping quite entertaining for him at the moment.  The same buddy also joins us on our travels in different hotel rooms....we love his little friend and so does he :)

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Flemish cycling culture

If you happen to have a family gathering on a day of an important cycling race (which are plenty in spring) then this happens ...

(it's an old picture but the current big races these weeks made me look it up again :) )

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Kabouter's baptism (2)

After the christening ceremony, we were lucky enough to  enjoy family time in the garden as the weather was better than predicted.  While the men watched the major cycling race on tv part of the time and the kids were playing games, Kabouter sucked in all the attention from everybody and managed to stay awake most of the time. After a beautiful & yummy cake it was time to go to the restaurant for a great dinner together.  Since Kabouter is already quite used to join us in restaurants, he enjoyed himself very much. 

Windows XP

My dear readers...18% of you that have recently visited my blog have been doing so from a Windows XP computer.  You might not be aware that Microsoft has just ended its support to this old operating system and therefore you will not get any updates anymore and you're computer will be less secure.  Although most of you were ad hoc arrivals via google search etc, I just thought I'd let you know anyway.
18%...geez, I'm a bit shocked about this number!


Monday, 7 April 2014

Kabouter's baptism (1)

Yesterday we celebrated Kabouter's christening together with the family.  Over the last weeks we had been preparing the service by selecting the texts and music.  The baptism took place at our parish church at the nearby Abbey where Jan and I also got married. This time the ceremony was scheduled in a more intimate abbey room.

We had decided quite ad hoc & last minute to walk to the abbey rather than drive and due to some inappropriate walking shoes & last minute bathroom stops at our home, we arrived in 2 groups: the first took the church entrance & the last took the abbey buildings entrance.  Fortunately there were 2 priests so each one could welcome a group and with some confusion we all arrived together again to celebrate. 

Kabouter himself enjoyed the attention and was very happy to try to catch one of our booklets to wrinkle & eat after which he could comment and babble a bit during the ceremony.  Further on he was more intrigued about the activities and took it all in with big eyes.

Everyone gave him a small 'blessing' cross on the forehead and/or a kiss

The oldest nephew & nieces each read a part of the script

the laying on of the hands, as a symbolic gesture of protection

the baptism

Lighting of his candle at the Easter candle

 Inscribing in the baptism register