“I am 54, recently divorced and desperately looking for work. I have a lot of job experience, however, I spent more of my adult years raising my children. I have been diligently applying for work for about 12 weeks and have not been offered one position. I’ve adjusted my resume so I don’t apply for jobs I’m not qualified for. At the same time, jobs I am qualified for don’t pay enough to pay my rent. I have to say this is the most frustrating experience I’ve ever endured, as my credit score dips lower and lower because I’m unable to pay even minimum payments on my credit cards.”
What you are going through is not uncommon. Countless people have been faced with this same dilemma. People returning to the workforce after an absence have multiple worries: “Will I have to prove myself all over again?” “How do I explain the gap in employment?” “What if I lack the required skills or education?”
It sounds like you are driven and motivated, but right now job seekers need all the help they can get. You want make sure you are looking at all your possibilities … including some you might not have thought of. Here are several things you can do to get your foot in the door or start earning a paycheck while developing skills to add to your resume:
1. Maximize your cover letter and resume. Your cover letter highlights your key accomplishments and gives you an opportunity to answer any questions about an employment gap. Put your resume into a functional format (click for an example) that highlights your skills instead of a chronological one that lists your jobs starting with the most recent.
2. Network. Join professional networking sites like Brightfuse and LinkedIn. Look for groups to join that reflect your background or job interest. (For example, search the term “mom”.) The more you network, the more likely you are to meet people who are in a similar situation … or who have been in your situation and are now hiring.
3. Stay informed. Stay abreast of new trends, technology and developments in your industry by attending seminars and courses to prove your time off doesn’t put you at a disadvantage. Research the company, job or industry BEFORE you apply to a job and incorporate that information into each cover letter.
4. Remain open to all possibilities, even if the job title, salary and benefits may not be exactly what you were seeking. Holiday hiring season is in full swing. Try searching using the terms “seasonal” or “holiday.” Even though there are fewer openings this year and these jobs are typically temporary, there are employers who extend permanent offers to seasonal staff. Or consider direct sales like Avon, Stella and Dot or Wine Shop at Home.
5. Work with a professional. Recruiters at staffing firms like Robert Half and Kelly Services have their fingers on the pulse of the job market and work with employers to fill all types of jobs. They can also provide useful feedback on your resume and interview skills.
Click on these links for some additional articles that might be helpful to you:
Can you relate to Judith’s story? What advice would you give her?