Author Topic: How to get a job after many years out of the work force?  (Read 2069 times)

ohsnap

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How to get a job after many years out of the work force?
« on: March 18, 2018, 05:40:57 PM »
I had a pretty successful professional career for 10 years out of college.  Then I stayed home with my kids for 15 years.  During the 15 years, I didn't do anything related to my career.  (in hindsight, I wish I'd gotten a toe back in after a couple of years, part time or something, but can't do anything about that now).  I did do a lot of volunteer work, but it was completely unrelated to my career field (and not in an area where I want to try to get paid work).  At about the 15 year point, I decided to get back into the work force.  I knew I wouldn't start again where I left off.  I created a resume, contacted a couple of colleagues that I'd stayed in touch with for references (both of them are in another state so can't offer referrals, just references), and started applying for jobs. 

I got NOTHING.  I was applying for stuff that was pretty far below where I'd left off.  But I didn't get a single response.  I registered with some reputable employment agencies, for both temp and regular positions.  I followed up with phone calls to those agencies and literally didn't get a single call back from my voice mail messages.  The one recruiter I managed to reach by phone had sent me a message through LinkedIn.  He said my experience looked great, but it was definitely "dated" and suggested I start with contract work.  Which I was willing to do, except that none of the contract/temp recruiters would return my calls or emails!

I'm at a loss.  I've considered taking some graduate-level courses to update my resume, but that's a long & expensive process. The fastest way to do that is with an online program which doesn't have strict application deadlines, so I could possibly start this summer.  But I'm not sure those programs are reputable and worth it.  And it would still be a year before I had enough coursework under my belt to make a difference.

Any ideas for me?  My husband's job keeps the roof over our heads, but I wanted to contribute to our stash for a few years until he's ready to call it quits on his job.

LAGuy

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Re: How to get a job after many years out of the work force?
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2018, 06:09:59 PM »
Can you say more about what your career is? One way to maybe get back in is to do some education...doesn't need to be much. Then, I'd consider dumbing down the resume and going for entry level while emphasizing your recent education.

MayDay

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Re: How to get a job after many years out of the work force?
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2018, 06:43:29 PM »
I took 6 years off and that was tough. I basically found a super non-typical tiny company. Or rather they found me (on LinkedIn).

I work with a chemE that took 20 years offm. She came in as line help,got promoted to quality technician, and is about to get promoted to Eng 1. It took her 18 months.

Honestly you'll probably have to start entry-level or even lower.

retireatbirth

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Re: How to get a job after many years out of the work force?
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2018, 06:29:23 AM »
Look for returnships in your area. These are basically internships offered to people who took time off from work.

lizzzi

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Re: How to get a job after many years out of the work force?
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2018, 07:22:13 AM »
I think we could be more helpful if we knew what line of work you're in.

schmerna

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Re: How to get a job after many years out of the work force?
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2018, 07:52:03 AM »
I agree with you that completing an online course is a good idea to demonstrate you are up-to-date in the field.  Coursera and EdX offer a bunch of MOOC (massive open online course) in a wide variety of fields.  The courses are free and have various start times.  There are many other online options but these two organizations are reputable with great faculty.
www.edx.org
www.coursera.org

Good luck!

jlcnuke

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Re: How to get a job after many years out of the work force?
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2018, 08:05:32 AM »
As mentioned, without knowing the career field etc, there's really nothing specific anyone could tell you. Many fields evolve so rapidly that 15 year old skills may be worse than no skills. Other professions don't see much change and you could "jump right in". It seems your skills are no longer valued so I'd wager that your field is more akin to the former than the latter. As such, you're probably best looking for entry level positions like you would have gone for day 1 of your career.

shelbyautumn

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Re: How to get a job after many years out of the work force?
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2018, 01:15:23 PM »
Following!

My mom is trying to get back to work after 18 years staying at home. My 18 year old brother has dreams of a PRICEY college and they want to lessen the burden. She just found out today that she didn't get a job she interviewed for and is taking it pretty hard, so if I can (gently) pass along tips to her, that would be awesome. She never had much of a career (worked in retail and food service - but was a district training coordinator for a big restaurant at one point), and has applied for entry-level positions in retail and even those have been dead ends for her.

Help get the SAHMs out of the house!!

CNM

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Re: How to get a job after many years out of the work force?
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2018, 01:24:15 PM »
I would really ramp up your networking game.  Go to industry events, join industry associations, and set up informational interviews.  If nothing else, you will be able to find out what it is that you need to be competitive- be that more education, different/additional certifications, or how to break into the contractor business. 

ohsnap

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Re: How to get a job after many years out of the work force?
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2018, 02:44:46 PM »
I worked in accounting, and was a manager when I "retired".

I will look into the MOOC courses.  A traditional course would take a lot of time & money - everything I've looked into requires the GMAT first.

Shelbyautumn, good luck to your mom!

shelbyautumn

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Re: How to get a job after many years out of the work force?
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2018, 02:46:24 PM »
Shelbyautumn, good luck to your mom!

Same to you! I hope lots of doors start opening for you!

CNM

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Re: How to get a job after many years out of the work force?
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2018, 03:09:25 PM »
I worked in accounting, and was a manager when I "retired".

I will look into the MOOC courses.  A traditional course would take a lot of time & money - everything I've looked into requires the GMAT first.

Shelbyautumn, good luck to your mom!

Are you a CPA/eligible to sit for the CPA exam?  Even though the exam is expensive, it is usually really, really worth it in terms of your billable rate, salary, and employment prospects. 

Or, you might be able to do a tax preparation certification course (available online) to get you back into it. 
« Last Edit: March 20, 2018, 03:48:13 PM by CNM »

crispy

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Re: How to get a job after many years out of the work force?
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2018, 03:28:14 PM »
I jumped back in the workforce three years ago after being home for 5 years and then working a part-time "mom" job for 4 years. My previous career was in career counseling/training so I felt that gave me some insight into getting back into the workforce.

My tips:

1) Make sure your resume shines. Frankly, most people's kind of suck so having a polished, professional resume makes you stand out in a good way. I always recommend the askamanger.org blog for good tips. I bet many of us here would be happy to critique it and offer advice. Make sure your resume is focused and shows why you are a good candidate for a job.

2) Write a great cover letter.  Manager's differ on the emphasis they place on cover letters, but if a manager cares, a good cover letter can really sell you as a candidate.  I wouldn't shy away from the fact you have been a stay-at-home parent. Mention it, move on and show how you have retained your skills.

3) Look at government agencies and non-profits and be open to part-time work.  I have found that a lot of non-profits need part-time workers and they can be hard to find.  There is a specific website in my city just for non-profit jobs so I would see if your city has something similar.  My first FT job after being home with the kids was a non-profit.  I was able to leverage that experience to get a job in state government. I just received a big promotion so in 3 years, I went from a basically a skilled, but fairly entry level job to a much higher job classification and a huge pay increase. 

4) I know networking is overstated (never harass people!), but do let people know you are looking.  You never know where it may lead.

5) Don't quit applying! It took me over a year of applying before I got a face-to-face interview, but it eventually happened. I was really discouraged, but I kept remind myself that it just takes one yes. 

6) When you get an interview, prepare and believe in yourself.  After I got my first interview, I was called to do a second interview where I had to do a presentation.  I worked hard to make it look great and I kept telling myself that I was a rock star who was going to nail it.  I went in there and killed that presentation and literally had a call within 30 minutes with a job offer. I have always struggled with confidence, but I decided that if I didn't believe in my abilities no one else would either.  When I left that job, my boss sent me an email telling me I was the best hire he had ever made.  I have kept that email to remind myself that I am a capable person with a lot to offer.  I encourage you to believe the same about yourself.

7) Think outside the box as far as employers. I currently work in a state hospital that hires direct care staff.  We literally always need people in these positions.  While it is not the greatest job, it is a foot in the door and I always encourage new hires to leverage that.  Once you are here, you can apply for promotional opportunities for any state job out there. I have seen a lot of new employees make a jump to another agency after only a few months.

8) Figure out if you want a career or just need money.  I was career-focused so I waited to find something that would put me on a career trajectory.  Before my kids were in school, I was more money focused - I just needed something to bring in some extra cash.  I ended up working at my daughters' preschool for 4 years part-time.  The pay wasn't the best, but the job was easy, I could bring my girls to work, and the hours worked for me.  There are lots of ways to make money - seasonal work at retail stores or ball parks, working as a substitute teacher, merchandising, etc. With an accounting background, a seasonal job at somewhere like H&R Block may be the type of job to get your foot in the door and will show some current experience.

9) Apply for jobs even if they are a stretch. Studies show that women are less likely to apply for a job if they don't feel completely qualified.  If you feel you are about 60% qualified, apply anyway.  The worst that can happen is that they don't interview you.

Hope this helps!  I wish you the best of luck.  As I always told my clients who were job seekers, it is not a matter of "if" you find a job but "when" you find a job.  It will happen!
« Last Edit: March 20, 2018, 03:31:04 PM by crispy »

robartsd

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Re: How to get a job after many years out of the work force?
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2018, 05:27:58 PM »
I'd echo crispy's advice especially these 3 points:
3) Look at government agencies and non-profits and be open to part-time work.  I have found that a lot of non-profits need part-time workers and they can be hard to find.  There is a specific website in my city just for non-profit jobs so I would see if your city has something similar.  My first FT job after being home with the kids was a non-profit.  I was able to leverage that experience to get a job in state government. I just received a big promotion so in 3 years, I went from a basically a skilled, but fairly entry level job to a much higher job classification and a huge pay increase. 

5) Don't quit applying! It took me over a year of applying before I got a face-to-face interview, but it eventually happened. I was really discouraged, but I kept remind myself that it just takes one yes. 

9) Apply for jobs even if they are a stretch. Studies show that women are less likely to apply for a job if they don't feel completely qualified.  If you feel you are about 60% qualified, apply anyway.  The worst that can happen is that they don't interview you.
Particularly with government jobs, emphasize your relevant experience regardless of when you gained it. Apply at any level that you'd be willing to work long enough to prove your worth - make the hiring managers decide if they want to interview you, don't decide for them by not applying.

bognish

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Re: How to get a job after many years out of the work force?
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2018, 02:19:19 PM »
Explaining your time out of the workforce on a cover letter is a good idea, but you should also put a comment on your resume. Its pretty common for the cover letter to stay with the person screening resumes or not make it to all of the people who will interview you at a company. You might as well address the obvious questions on your resume so they don't assume the wrong thing.  If you were in accounting you should be able to talk with an accounting specific recruiting company or temporary/contract work. Look at indeed or glassdoor and see what recruiting companies have accounting positions posted. Call those agencies.

Sun Hat

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Re: How to get a job after many years out of the work force?
« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2018, 05:16:12 PM »
Have you considered volunteering as a treasurer for a non-profit? A group that I volunteered with had an accountant as treasurer, and he was invaluable, particularly in the period leading up to the annual audit. Normally, the job was a couple of hours a month, but at around that time, he contributed about a week's worth of work (it was only that much because of staff turnover that left a bit of a mess). Offering to help to put a non-profits books to rights even if not on the board of directors would be a free way to update your references (well, free in terms of money, obviously it would be a lot of unpaid work hours).