Searching for an Online Job: Tips from a Beginner

I’m ecstatic that I made progress with my online career. I’ve been posting about it frequently these past days and friends have already been asking about it. Melo and I have so much appreciation of the Internet and technology today that’s been making work with people from all over the world possible without the need to travel, being far from one’s family, or wasting time and energy on the commute. It got me looking back on the steps I took before I got my first online job. I thought it would be nice to share my personal experience and insights to help those interested to try it out.

It began with the question we all ask, “how do we make more money?” We knew the opportunities are now online. We want to start a business, but we haven’t figured out what exactly we’re supposed to do. Being frequent customers of Lazada especially since I moved to the province and after I gave birth, we thought we could also start our own online store. In fact, we already had it set up, and the Lazada account manager has been bugging me for weeks to move forward. However, there was one challenge, our location is not serviced by Lazada courier. They are able to deliver products here, but they cannot do pickup for sellers. It’s either we move our warehouse address to serviceable areas or we rent a space at the Lazada warehouse. In a nutshell, we hit a wall even before we started. Right now, the project was put on hold.

REJECTIONS COME FIRST

We were supposed to fly to Manila in July in time for our birthday, but weren’t able to because we don’t have enough funds. This is one of the reasons that compelled me to look for a job. Around the first week of July, I researched on Google, “work from home jobs”, “online jobs philippines”, and other similar keywords. I signed up on clickworker.com, typingworkforus.in, appen.com, upwork.com. I also updated my profile on jobstreet.com.ph and applied for online jobs. All the .coms I mentioned didn’t make any progress. I don’t think clickworker and typingworkforus are legit. For Appen, maybe it just didn’t work for me. Upwork, they say is legit. It looks legit. For me, it’s just hard to get a job there especially because the site has this credits system. And I just had 2 credits left, with no job offers, not even an interview or chat with an employer. It is sort of limiting, because you can’t apply to as much jobs as you can while there are also fewer job opportunities, in my opinion. I checked my Freelancer.com account, too, and it’s kind of the same thing. With Jobstreet, at least I was able to make it to the exam stage for 2-3 job openings. It still gave me a confidence boost. Oh, don’t be disheartened by rejections. Can’t actually expect to land a job on the first try, right? It’s part of the process, and more reason to keep pushing. Getting in the interview or exam stages and being rejected afterwards is way better than not receiving any response at all. The rejections also made me think that maybe it’s God’s way of telling me that it is not yet the job for me. Something better was coming.

USE A BLOG AS YOUR DIGITAL RESUME AND PORTFOLIO

I continued researching online for job openings and tips from those with far more experience. At first, I thought about how some blog posts make it look so easy. Start a vlog they said. Start a course they said. Nonetheless, thanks to these blog posts, I decided to start my own blog. It was already mid-July. I’m usually not a risk-taker but creating momseaph.com was actually a risk for me. I purchased the domain and paid for a subscription on WordPress. It’s not a small amount knowing that we’re already low on funds and the returns of this blog will come much later and there’s no guarantee. Just got me to think that I have to be more disciplined in posting here because I already spent on it. The two (2) immediate benefits of momseaph.com were, (a) I was able to exercise my writing again, and (b) I was able to use this as a portfolio or sample work in my job applications. I actually got the idea from another blogger who said having a blog gives more chances of getting hired. I would suggest the same thing. I think this is applicable not only to those looking for writing jobs. Open a blog. It doesn’t have to be your own domain. It could be a free wordpress account. It can be 1-3 pages only just to showcase your professional experience, skills, and sample works. If you can add an introductory video, it would be great too because some employers ask for one. If you have one already prepared then you just link it up. Think of it as the modern day resume.

ONLINEJOBS.PH, THE JOBSTREET FOR ONLINE WORK OPPORTUNITIES

Days are passing by and I was still unemployed. I kept busy with my blog because it’s still an investment I made, which I’m hoping will eventually earn through advertisements. I continued searching for online jobs too. I tried looking on Facebook and joined groups. There are a lot but I think these two are the most helpful for me: (a) Online Filipino Freelancers and (b) Filipino Freelancer Online Home Based Job (Upwork, Elance, oDesk etc). You will need to request to be a member before you get access to the page. There are a lot of helpful information from job openings, to personal experiences, to tips. It’s actually from one of these groups that I learned about Online Jobs PH. It’s overall user experience is fantastic. For me its level of credibility as a job site is the same as Jobstreet. It’s very easy to use and understand. The website functions are helpful to both the job seekers and employers. It’s important to complete your profile and Online Jobs PH made sure to guide job seekers in accomplishing this. I created my profile on August 3 and immediately started applying for jobs. The following day I got a response from an employer. I made it up to the second test but I wasn’t hired because the task was really able to help determine whether I was fit for the job, and I understood it, too. Again, another rejection but found this helpful so I was able to filter the jobs I applied for. On the site, you can send up to maximum 10 applications per day. And there was a day that I actually use up all that allocation. I submitted around 30 applications in 7 days, till I got hired on August 10. Afterwards, I continued submitting applications, this time for part time jobs. I noticed that the chances for getting responses and getting hired increased. The employers can see if you’ve already been hired via Online Jobs PH in the past and they’re also informed when you get hired by another employer. The latter happened to me just recently. I got hired for a part time job, and my other employer was informed.

While the employers are being thorough in their search, make sure to do the same. There still can be some postings that can’t be trusted or look sketchy. I did try applying to some of them, got a response but figured something’s off, and confirmed either through searching for reviews online or I simply trusted my instinct. There’s perfect–job.com and livingston-research.com to name a few. Rule of thumb, if it’s too good to be true then don’t trust it. Walk away.  

SPEAK AND WORK LIKE A BUSINESS OWNER

The beauty of the online employment I think is that it got rid of the HIRErarchy, where the employer is more in a position of power. I think of it as like having your own business and you’re talking to potential clients to offer your services. I always write a fresh cover letter. I tried different tones depending on the role I’m applying for or my impression of what kind of employer I’m pitching to. Imagine speaking to different kinds of clients, some may be friendly and casual while some may want to be more formal. Point is you have to be the right amount of confident, friendly, and helpful. Sometimes I start my cover letter with “Let me help you”, other times I just use the standard “I am interested to apply for the role”. Then I give a short description of my relevant experience and links to my resume and blog. And I end with saying “I hope to get a chance to work with”or “I look forward to working with you”. I read in another blog that it’s also good to sound like you’ve already earned the job, but not sounding overconfident. I think honesty also helps. It adds to your credibility. It shows that you are a mature, experienced professional. Everyone wants to work with someone like that. This will also give you a peace of mind. When I was applying for the part time job, I told the employers I talked to that I have another employer I’m currently working with and that I hope it’s not an issue for them. So far, the employers I’m in touch with are understanding and supportive. They know that the beauty of working online is you have that flexibility to earn more money.

This is it for now. It’s a long post and there’s more to discuss. I will do my best to write related posts in the future as I progress in this industry. I invite people to comment below or message me if you have questions or suggestions. I would love to help others who want to start a career online or collaborate with those who have more experience than I currently have. Exciting times ahead!

Breastfeeding is best for my baby and me

I decided I’d breastfeed long before I got pregnant. I think it’s primarily because of effective advertising. The people behind it succeeded in making sure people will remember the message like a song: “Breast milk is best for babies up to 2 years.” Additionally, I’ve seen campaigns emphasizing how our babies are not cows so they should be feeding on breast milk.

I’m writing about breastfeeding because I saw on Twitter that August is National Breastfeeding Month, and August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week. I want to share my experience without simply echoing what’s already common knowledge for everyone.

ABOUT MY MILK PRODUCTION

I’m very thankful I have a good amount of breast milk. I’m not sure if it’s just my body or I guess the Natalac capsules I’m taking is doing a great job. I’ve been prescribed by my mother-in law who’s also an OB-GYN to take the said food supplement since I was six months pregnant, and I still do until now. If you’re still in your pregnancy stage or currently breastfeeding your little one, I suggest to ask your doctor about Natalac if you want to try it.

When you have a good amount of breast milk, it’s important to empty your breasts. A nurse warned me about this, but I didn’t expect to actually experience it. On the fourth night after giving birth, I woke up in the middle of the night because of chills. It was scary and I did panic. Apparently, it’s because I have so much milk. Tala wasn’t with me yet, hasn’t learned to latch correctly, and I haven’t pumped. Oversupply, if not dealt with immediately, can lead to a condition called mastitis.  

HOW I LEARNED TO BREASTFEED

We most definitely didn’t want Tala to be confined in the hospital after she was born but at least one of its advantages was that I was able to get a 7-day crash course from the nurses on the basics and necessary things to do in taking care of my baby. Tala was not allowed to room in with me. I got discharged ahead of her, so I just visited her at the nursery to feed her. The nurses and resident doctor guided me on how to do it. They also gave me tips on how to pump and store milk. Most women will get these information from their moms, mom friends, or the Internet. It was convenient and helpful that I got instruction from health professionals. I even think hospitals should actually have breastfeeding education programs for first time moms before they get discharged. Perhaps some hospitals are already doing it. That would be great!

MY BREASTFEEDING LIFESTYLE

Not only is breastfeeding cost efficient, it’s travel friendly. I remember when my younger brothers were still babies, we would bring bottles and portioned formula milk. I think it’s pretty bulky to pack and bring. Tala goes wherever Melo and I go, and we’re kind of always on-the-go. It’s convenient to not have to do the extra step of sterilizing bottles, packing up, making sure there’s enough portioned milk. I just strike anywhere! I’m not even the type to get shy. I believe breastfeeding is natural and to normalize it, moms should have the freedom to do it without being embarrassed.

I can’t talk much about pumping milk because I only did it when Tala was still in the hospital and when I mixed it with her solid food on her 6th month. I first tried hand express after I gave birth, because we haven’t bought a pump yet. What we got is a Looney Tunes Manual Pump, the type that was recommended by the nurse at the hospital. Since I’m a stay-at-home mom and we’re practically together 24/7, Tala just feeds directly.

WHAT I WEAR AS A BREASTFEEDING MOM

What I spend on are breastpads which I buy from Lazada. Baby Moby Disposable Breastpads is extra absorbent. It costs me Php 6.50 per piece. In terms of clothing, I’ve used maternity bras and slim breastfeeding tank top with built-in maternity bra. However, right now I’ve switched to wearing tubes instead. It’s much cooler to wear and easier to use for breastfeeding. Wearing tube was actually a suggestion of a mom friend, but I only tried it just recently. I found tubes costing Php 60 per piece. I used breastfeeding cover before but it became more of a hassle for me. It’s an extra object to pack and I have to wear it before I can feed an already crying and impatient baby. Plus, Tala pushes the cover away so I may get exposed. I tried the suggestion of my sister-in-law to just wear two layers of clothing, which is really more efficient for me. There are a lot of breastfeeding clothes brands which have really stylish and nice designs. I bought a few myself and received some as gifts. But I never got a hang of it. I end up just lifting the shirt because it’s faster. 

With all the talk about breastfeeding, I know moms can’t help but feel pressured if they don’t have enough milk. I don’t think it’s right to make moms feel guilty if they can’t breastfeed, if they choose not to, or if they choose to mix feed. Our generation grew up on formula milk and I think we turned out fine. Breastfeeding campaigns are there to inform and encourage moms to do it. At the end of the day, what’s important is what will be good for your baby’s health and what works for you. Nonetheless, I really, really hope all moms are able to breastfeed and will choose to do so. Happy national breastfeeding month!

Things to do for MomME TIME

Mommy time, does it exist? Having a baby means I don’t get to decide what things to do and when to do them. It all depends on Tala, or if Melo can look after her for a while, or for others if you have another person to handle the baby while you take a breather. Nevertheless, it’s still important to find mommy time even for 30 minutes, to recharge and stay sane.

I’m sharing below my personal list of things I do. It’s worth noting that I’m in the province where the mall is 3 hours away, and we don’t have the other conveniences that city living has. Good thing these are simple activities, doable whether you are in the city or in the countryside.  

TAKE A WARM BATH

This can be as quick as 15 minutes that you have for yourself. It’s top on my list, because during the first few months after giving birth, I consider bath time as the only time of personal peace. What I wasn’t able to do that I suggest you try especially if you’re still in the pregnancy stage is beautify your bathroom. Organize it, put scented candles or incense, even have furry rugs or toilet cover. Have a bluetooth speaker handy so you can listen to your music. We always play lullabies on Spotify for Tala, I kind of missed my music so I play it while taking a bath. Invest on a shower heater if you don’t have one yet. The warm water is really very relaxing to the body.

PICK A TV SERIES TO WATCH WITH YOUR HUSBAND

We were able to add to our routine watching 1-2 episodes every night after we put Tala to bed. Sometimes, we just bring Tala with us if she still hasn’t gone to sleep. This is an easy way of bonding with your husband, an activity you can share together and a good substitute to date night. Just Netflix and chill. Plus we sometimes, drink a bottle of beer or two. And we always have snacks prepared.

BUY YOURSELF YOUR FAVORITE DRINK OR FOOD

My favorite right now is milk tea. We don’t have the popular brands available here. I was so glad when a local cafe opened, and it’s selling milk tea. I buy one whenever we do our errands or when we go to church. It’s like comfort food and sort of a reward you can give yourself. If you can’t go out, good thing there are now food delivery apps in the major cities, so at least there’s that convenient option.

ASK FOR A FREE MASSAGE OR DO A SELF-MASSAGE

Ask your husband for a massage. With all those muscle pain you’re experiencing, you deserve it! The physical touch is also important and beneficial for your relationship. On the other hand, I also do self-massage on my shoulders. I discovered a balm for muscle and pain relief on Lazada. The lavender oil truly helps to relax my tensed muscles and get a good night’s sleep.

GET YOUR NAILS DONE AT HOME

Find a manicurist who does home service. If you can’t go to the salon as often as you want, then have salon services in the comforts of your home. If they could, then ask for a foot spa, too. This is great especially if you don’t have extra time to visit the salon, or if distance is a factor. It’s just nice to have someone else handle your personal needs as simple as getting your nails done.

WEAR A NEW HAIRSTYLE

You know how we ladies get a haircut or a new hairstyle whenever there’s a change in our life. Now’s the perfect time. Get a new hairstyle to fit your mom lifestyle and identity. Mine was inspired by Maricar Reyes-Poon. Choose one that makes you feel beautiful, confident, and happy. A happy mom and wife means a happy family.

WINDOW SHOPPING ON ONLINE STORES

I’m not really the type to do shopping when I’m stressed but after giving birth I really enjoyed browsing and buying stuff from Lazada. There’s even this joke on how they say breastfeeding your baby is cost efficient, but you actually spend more because you end up shopping online. So just be watchful of your budget. It’s nice to do online shopping because it’s easy and it feels good when the delivery arrives.

You don’t need a full day to make momme time happen. Even a few minutes will actually do. What’s important is you do something to give yourself a break and that will make you feel good.

Would love to hear other easy-to-do momme time activities. Share it by leaving a comment below.

Use a baby app to better understand your little one

When my little girl, Tala Ria was still a new born, I often heard people remarking about how she cries a lot or if she does. I used to be annoyed by these, because they say it as if it’s a bad thing. Well, I thought to myself, that’s what babies do! That’s their language. Maybe, just maybe, there are some who cry more than the others, because it’s their personality. However, I also thought that maybe babies cry more because they’re misunderstood. For instance, the first thing that comes to mind when a baby cries is that she’s hungry. Let’s not forget, they have other needs, too. Hence, my parenting technique is to be observant and responsive.

One of the best advice I got was to download a baby tracker app. The one I’m using now is actually the second that I downloaded, because I find it more user-friendly. When you search for it in the app store, it’s called Baby tracker – feeding, sleep and diaper. I used it primarily for these three things. But the app actually has other features, like tracking medications, growth, even leisure, and more. The best part for me is it has a reports feature that summarizes all the data up to a month, so I can check if there’s a trend. It makes analyzing and, yes, strategizing easier. I got used to gathering and analyzing data in my past jobs. I didn’t expect I’d be using this skill for taking care of my baby.

I actually support and do on-demand feeding, so it helped that I tracked the feeding schedule of Tala. During her first months, she breastfed almost every hour sometimes even less. Each feeding lasted around 5-7 minutes. If you’ll notice the screenshot of Tala’s feeding record in May, it shows that she already fed for a longer duration and for almost every two hours. She’s been growing and becoming more efficient in feeding. In fact, I’ve already stopped recording breastfeeding data, and is now just monitoring the meals, because I know now when Tala is whining about wanting to drink milk, and used the data from the app as basis.

Recording her sleep helps me make sure she doesn’t get overtired, and know when she is. This is important, because putting babies who are crying because they’re overtired is stressful for both the baby and the mother. Now, I continue to record her sleep so I know if she’s getting enough. I compare the information with the prescribed number of sleep hours for her age which I Googled.

Give it a try, but know that there’s a learning curve. At first, you may feel like it’s a bit of a hassle to be tracking everything when both your hands are already busy handling the baby. It becomes easy as you form the habit of using it. What I also did was introduce it to my husband, so he can also do the recording himself whenever I can’t. Nonetheless, if you don’t like the extra step of using an app, I recommend reading about the babies’ different cries.

An important reminder. If your baby’s cry seems unusual, looks like a cry of pain, or is non-stop, immediately consult with your pediatrician.