Author Topic: Advice on re-entering the workforce after 12 years out.  (Read 1917 times)

sjc0816

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Advice on re-entering the workforce after 12 years out.
« on: December 21, 2017, 07:44:03 AM »
I'm starting to ponder going back to work full-time and I'm not exactly sure where to start. I quit a sales career when my first child was born because my 10 hour days, commute and huge sales territory were just not conducive to the lifestyle that we wanted with raising children. Add to that some health problems with my first born....resulting in 3x weekly therapy appointments for him his first 6 months of life --- and here we are. I have ZERO regrets about being at home with my kids this long...so not necessary to debate that topic.

I have a mish-mash of things that I have done since staying home, including:

- Part-time work for my dad who owns a manufacturing company (10-20 hours a week for the last 4 years) doing a variety of things...including website content writing and editing, cost/pricing analyses, a LOT of spreadsheet creation and analysis of various types, merchandising, etc.
- Extensive volunteer work both in school and out (non-profits, church, etc)...including board positions, committee chair positions and being on almost every committee at school.
- Part-time work as a fitness instructor for about 3 years

I have been very busy and am very proud of everything I've accomplished since quitting the workforce. But how will any of this help me to move forward and find a new career? I am not interested in getting back into sales so I feel like I'm starting over....and I don't even know what kind of job/career I want. I've perused job websites and I feel like I am under qualified for so much. I've looked at entry-level type positions and while I completely understand that I may have to start there...I feel OVER qualified for these. I'm not above it, though. I know I'll have to work my way up.

Another issue is that every superior I've had in my career is retired....therefore I am lacking some references. I can use old co-workers, management at my dad's company, anyone I've worked with on a volunteer level. But will that suffice?

My degree is in Journalism. I've contemplated going back to school but again, for what?

I live in a medium metro area with a booming economy, so I know there is something out there for me - I just need to figure out which direction to go. Has anyone ever re-invented themselves in mid-life?

Josiecat

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Re: Advice on re-entering the workforce after 12 years out.
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2017, 09:04:55 AM »
You may want to brush up on your computer software skills.  A lot of libraries offer free classes for Microsoft products.  You should know the basic packages like MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, email, etc.

sjc0816

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Re: Advice on re-entering the workforce after 12 years out.
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2017, 09:11:26 AM »
You may want to brush up on your computer software skills.  A lot of libraries offer free classes for Microsoft products.  You should know the basic packages like MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, email, etc.

I'm very up to speed on MS Office products as I've been using them extensively.

zinnie

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Re: Advice on re-entering the workforce after 12 years out.
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2017, 09:31:40 AM »
It sounds like you have some experience in a lot of different areas. Can you narrow down which aspects of the work you have done recently that you enjoyed the most? Was it working with people/leadership, analyzing data, communicating information, bookkeeping, website content work, etc.? Once you've narrowed down what you are looking for a little bit I'd put together a few different versions of your resume that highlight specific skillsets for each type of potential job. Hiring managers want to see concise, relevant experience and since you have a variety I would really narrow down to key relevant skills that match each potential job listing. With the things you've done you should be able to tailor to many different types of jobs.

Since you have recent work experience, you might not have to start from the beginning like you think. You just have to figure out how to translate what you have been doing to the positions you want. And management at your dad's company and references from volunteer work are what I'd use, personally. A reference who worked with you recently is better, unless you have colleagues from way back when that you still keep in touch with. 

I can't vouch for either, and I'm not sure how specifically they are intended for career changes, but I've seen these books recommended a bunch on here and saved them for myself so I thought I'd link them:
https://www.amazon.com/Its-Never-Late-Begin-Again/dp/0399174214/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1513873203&sr=1-1&keywords=it%27s+never+too+late+to+begin+again+by+julia+cameron

https://www.amazon.com/Now-What-Revised-Days-Direction/dp/0399173161

I have been very busy and am very proud of everything I've accomplished since quitting the workforce.

This is a good thing to try to convey on your resume and in interviews, too! (Just leave out the "quitting the workforce" part since you have been working, just in different ways.)

Good luck! It sounds like you have a lot to work with, you just have to narrow down what you are looking for /what you are a good candidate for.

lizzzi

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Re: Advice on re-entering the workforce after 12 years out.
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2017, 09:40:26 AM »
How about public employment at the county level? Go down to the personnel office at your county office building and take a look at what jobs are posted. You probably will need to take some civil service tests and maybe get on lists...depends what's open and what you're looking for. But these jobs will likely have benefits, and a pension after you retire. I remember that in my county, a couple new people came into positions at Office for the Aging. The basic requirement was a bachelor's degree in something...anything. The one girl--journalism background-- ended up as head of the agency, after twenty years or so. The other person was an ex-radio disc jockey. He ended up being involved in a  lot of public relations things, and built a good career out of it.  A lot of the county case managers were in adult protective services or child protective services--or were Medicaid case managers at Dept. of Social Services. Those were stressful jobs that I personally would not want--you need to try to find something that gives you regular hours and no or very little extra work expected outside of the nine to five. (Because you have kids to get home to.) What you're looking for is the "butter tub" position--yes, you're going to work hard, but you won't kill yourself, and it needs to be a job you can carry for years on end. In our county, the case managers for a certain program authorizing benefits for the elderly (not Medicaid) did OK financially, never worked outside the 9-5, and in most cases, retired from those positions with a pension. I was a county public health nurse, so my career decisions and career track wouldn't be relevant for you. FWIW, I was out of the workforce for seven years raising my little kids, and when I went back it was like getting back on a bicycle. But as I said...nurse.

And make use of your contacts, too. Let people know you are looking for work. I never would have gone into public employment--just wouldn't have thought of it--if my neighbor, one of the county nurses--hadn't kept twisting my arm to go down and interview.

Lookilu

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Re: Advice on re-entering the workforce after 12 years out.
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2017, 09:54:50 AM »
I just need to figure out which direction to go. Has anyone ever re-invented themselves in mid-life?

This was me in 2006. I went to grad school (again) and changed careers entirely at the age of 42. It was one of the best things I've ever done for myself. It's a bit New Age-y, but this book was helpful for me: https://www.amazon.com/Something-More-Excavating-Your-Authentic/dp/0446677086/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Figuring out what you want to do can be very challenging when you have many possible options, and it sounds to me like you do. I spent a lot of time considering what type of work had made me happiest in the past and what I never wanted to do again at any price. I know that it goes against the MMM grain for many here, but I wanted to find something that I was passionate about after years of corporate dronehood. It worked out for me. I'm far happier and I make a lot more money than I did in my first career. So it can happen.

Some soul searching may be in order--especially if you plan to return to school--but if your local economy is booming, you might just want to start applying. You don't have to stay. :)
Good luck!

tooqk4u22

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Re: Advice on re-entering the workforce after 12 years out.
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2017, 12:25:55 PM »
DW was home for 6 years also sales.  When she went back she took a sales/marketing job that was well below her experience and capabilities and half the pay (or less) than when she left.  But it was an opportunity to shake off the rust and get back into the groove and resume/network building.  Within 2-3 years she was back to her old industry with comparable income. 

Most people let ego or unwillingness to work hard get in the way, but you have to realize that you are basically starting new and need to re-establish yourself, but you have the benefit of knowing what you can do unlike new grads or those without experience.