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August 26, 2013


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In 1992 it was pretty easy to find a job and, you were 29 then. First thing is to use your contacts in your volunteer circle to see about any upcoming openings rather than start a traditional job search. Also, depending on your financial requirements, you can try temp places, though this may not be the best thing if you're looking for a career/retire at 65/pension et al.

An updated wardrobe is in order, but that means $$$ too. I really feel for you - but also I am somewhat envious as I won't have that sense of adventure you may be feeling. It will be a challenge, and challenges are good. Good luck to you.

It sounds like you have created strong ties in your community, which will serve you well in your job search. I would update your resume, replete with your volunteer activity. What skills have you used through volunteering that are applicable to the job market? Also, what type of job are you looking for? One that simply pays the bills, or one in a specific area of work? Tailor that resume to fit the type of work you're looking for and highlight your marketable skills. Use online templates to really polish that resume and make sure it showcases your skills in a succinct manner. As someone who has a hand in hiring, one of my signals that someone isn't future-minded is an aol or hotmail email on a resume. If you don't have a gmail address, get one just for the job search. It just looks more modern on a resume. Then get the word out that your looking for work, through every means available. Word of mouth in volunteer and social circles, at your daughter's school or PTA, through online community boards, chamber of commerce, anything you can think of.

My wife became a stay at home Mom a few years ago, so I'm very curious to see some feedback from people that have done this before.

I'd like to think she wouldn't have to go back to work unless she wanted to, that's the goal at least.

How about going back to school to get some refresher courses in what you'd like to do?

Also, a word of encouragement and a story, albeit 20 years old. You can do this. My mom went back to work when my brother and I were in high school. Unlike you, she had no college degree. Her goal was to cover our family's health benefits. She began by temping and was hired by one of the companies she temped for. She worked there through our hs and college years, then picked up with volunteering again. In her 60's now, she works a few days a week by choice for comeraderie and fun money.

1. Go through some online assessments of your skills and print that report out. Now you have an inventory of what you are about to 'sell'

2. Sharpen your skills in the computer / mobility world. Get fresh with these things since you cannot/will not survive with them even if you find a job.

3. Learn a special software by borrowing it from the Library (for example Quicken Books, Investment Management, Accounts Receivable, Sales 101 etc).....Whatever you think you are good at from the assessment.

4. Now, go and interview ONLY with Agencies since you will get a lot of feedback on what you should and should not do. Cover at least 5 Agencies a Week.

5. Start applying for real corporate jobs using the 'new method of looking for jobs'.....ensure that you have a great "resume" reviewed / edited by the Agencies, since you are just stepping into the real world now.

6. Ensure that your interviewing skills are really good based on the discussions with the agencies.

7. Always take a 'what do I bring to the table folder' with your to show and prove, instead of talk and prove.

8. Enjoy the hunt, since your enthusiasm, positiveness, sales and maturity skills will come through well.

Take care.


I think that volunteering during your stay-at-home phase is a great thing to put on your resume. It shows that you were keeping abreast with various skills.

My suggestion would be to reach out to some temp agencies and talk with them. They can help you find a short-term job or jobs while you get your feet back in the game. The pay may not be great, but you are looking to get acclimated again, that is the goal here. Once you get back up to speed, you can start looking for something more permanent. Or f you are lucky, the temp job where you are working could offer you a full time job.

Good luck!!

Since I imagine that you will be applying for college-degree required positions, I would do an honest assessment of your technology skills and make sure that they're up to par with the positions you're applying for, or if not, get them up there and be prepared to assuage any technology-related concerns you might encounter from employers. Being out of the workforce for 12 years guarantees that your technology skills will be rusty, and that may well be a concern for prospective employers.


Recently, my team was cut in the Aviation/Space Industry. My skills are rusty too as I have to pop my head out after a decade plus of technical work. So this is what I have found useful, as it’s about:

1. Who you know
2. What you know
3. Who knows you

I, too, am bit rusty and had to re-establish myself. So far, I have taken a Personal Marketing class which helped with the self-assessment as well as understanding whom I am competing with, in terms of jobs.

I now volunteer to work at professional conferences and professional associations. My skills are behind because my work was so specialized. It is interesting to see how people dress, how they speak about their work and what they know.

I signed up to a couple of social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. This provides a connection to professionals in their field. Plus, you get a chance to update your professional brand which seems like all the rage right now.

Lastly, see if you can get a coach or mentoring from people in the positions you want to be in.

I am happy to help with a one-on-one conversation, if you need further assistance.

I'd start from the beginning, the "What Color is Your Parachute" type beginning. In fact, it might be a good idea to get the book out of the library and thumb through it (I wouldn't buy it - it's a good guidebook but it's old).

Ask yourself:

What do I enjoy doing? (Writing? Administrative work? Accounting?...)
What type of environment do I enjoy working in? (Office? Hospital? Hotel?....)
What type of hours am I willing to work? (evenings/weekends?)
How far am I willing to drive?

Get a professional to look at your resume, make sure to incorporate some of the volunteer work, make sure you have a modern and professional presentation. No aol email addresses! (Get a GMail address just for your interview process). You may want to use a nontraditional type of structure so the employment gap is less immediately apparent.

Get a LinkedIn profile up and be active on the page - share articles, get recommendations.

Good luck and try to have some fun with it!

The "What Color Is Your Parachute" book is a good suggestion. They do update it every year or two so it stays reasonably current.

Another small question:

At this point in life, does one put one's high school name and location in the education section portion of a resume?

Technical difficulties - I thought I posted this comment earlier but it seems to have disappeared.

I am the reader who asked this question, and I really appreciate your taking the time to respond. Thank you! At this time I am looking at starting with something part-time and possibly temporary, as my daughter is still a young teenager and is partially homeschooled. As time progresses I plan to hone in more specifically on a longer-term career option so that I'll be back to work full time when my daughter graduates from high school. This is five years from now. I recognize that my current plans could change depending on factors I haven't thought of or due to factors that are outside my control.

My degree is in Business Administration. I worked in IT between 1992 and 2001. My technical skills were decent but I worked on aging platforms. After I left the company my previous employer was purchased by another company and is long gone. I don’t plan to go back to IT.

BillyBob, Ali and Jon – I have mentioned to a few of my fellow volunteers that I'm looking towards working outside the home. To one of them who has known me for a long time I think I said something like "If you run into any jobs that could use my skills please let me know". I can see now that I need to be more specific, even if the topic comes up in casual conversation.

Ali and Suze - Thank you for mentioning the use of a gmail address. This is not something I've run into as I've read "returning to the workforce" articles on the internet, and is something very easy to take care of. Would gmail/Google/associated Google products be a technology to learn more thoroughly?

BillyBob - thanks for your nudge in the direction of updating my look. Some of my friends have daughters who are in their twenties. As I work on this I will ask them for their opinions. I am equally sure that my teenage daughter will share her opinion whether I ask or not. 

Kenny – I will look into borrowing software from the library. I hadn't thought about that. I will also look in to learning what I can do with my smart phone.

Moe, Suze – I have wondered about LinkedIn. I am on Facebook but have hesitated with LinkedIn – I don't want to make a mistake there.

Pauline and Moe – are there any specific technology skills that would regarded as generally useful for most jobs right now? I do have a laptop with Windows 7, and a smart phone with Android. I'm on Facebook and some other sites. I have learned some about each of these, but have focused on learning just enough to get by.

Suze and Mark - thank you for the tip regarding "What Color is Your Parachute?". I looked at this book a long time ago, and I know it is available at the library.

Retire By 40 – it's starting to sound like I'll first need to learn current technologies before I look at refresher courses.

No Waste – I hope you've found the feedback helpful!

The recently-reviewed "Cut the Crap, Get a Job!" looks like a great resource regarding interviews and other topics; I do plan to get a copy of it.


I'd get a LinkedIn account and just start to build up your resume. You can always change it, so don't worry about mistakes. Check out other profiles, get some recommendations from your friends (preferably people you've recently volunteered with) who are also on LinkedIn, and just start to build a social media presence. It's very important these days, and you should get started as soon as you can. Have someone take a photo of you - looking professional (hair combed, makeup on, sitting at a desk or something like that) and post it on the site. Recruiters like profiles with photos.

Poke around and see how other people present themselves. LinkedIn is a marketing platform for employees, essentially. I'm a mid-level IT employee and I get calls from recruiters fairly frequently, so it's not just for executives. As you apply for jobs, HR and recruiters will look for a LinkedIn profile as a matter of course.

I'm sure you can bring yourself up to speed on gmail and Google pretty quickly.

Good luck - and seriously, have a little fun. The world has changed since you last looked for a job but some of the changes are exciting!

For some unconventional advice - Ask some successful younger people (5-10 years out of college, who have changed jobs a couple times) what they find valuable and how they use LinkedIn, which technologies are relevant, etc.

The world of job hunting has dramatically changed in the last 5 years. Most big companies and many small ones use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). That means a computer screens your resume, so you have to write a resume that effectively gets past an ATS, then the HR person, and then to the hiring manager.

Don't take any resume advice that doesn't specifically address how to beat the ATS because that advice is almost surely outdated. If you reach out to some successful younger people who came of age when job-hopping became the norm, you'll probably uncover a wealth of insights about the modern career search.

At a minimum, I recommend that you purchase and become familiar with using Office 2010 including Outlook. Consider taking a community college course on this software if you have to.

For jobs, perhaps consider a receptionist at a dentist's office, or a church secretary, or a small clinic, or something similar? The hours are likely to be part time and you could feasibly get the job just by walking in and applying. Your lack of recent work history unfortunately is just going to get your resume tossed out if you apply to any large or medium sized company that uses an HR department or computerized resume screening---I wouldn't even bother with that until you already have had some recent job for at least 1 year.

If you are looking for a temporary position, working for a temp agency is the only way to go. No one will hire you for anything if you tell them you are only looking to work for a few months or a year.

You might consider going back to school to get more training. For example, you could get a med tech degree and then you would be eligible for a good paying job working in a clinical medical testing lab. More schooling might be a better use of your time right now than a low paying temp job that won't prepare you for a better full time job in the future.

Another great job you might like is a clinical trials coordinator at a large hospital. But you would need a recent work history and probably more current computer skills, so you could consider this as something to shoot for after your first re-entry job.

Good luck!

Here's a suggestion you won't hear often: Lace up your sneakers and walk briskly 20 minutes a day. You might even mention you do this during the interview if there is a reasonable opening. Even though health questions are verboten, a prospective employer will definitely get a feel for how springy your step is. Walking quickly and confidently demonstrates that you can keep up physically with the young folk you are competing against. Then it is them who have to try to match your years of improving judgement (sometimes the young ones do some crazy stuff).

Thank you Margo, Mc, Paul and thanks again Suze. I really appreciate all the different ideas you've shared. They are very helpful!

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