Above: Adriana Kugler, Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Labor, speaks during the Working for Women – Lansing forum at the James B. Henry Center for Executive Development at Michigan State University in Lansing, MI – Photo Courtesy: US Department of Labor
Women over the age of 30 are the most common group of people who exited the workforce at one point, stayed out of work for a period of time, and are now ready to re-enter.
Some of the typical reasons that women exit the workforce include:
- Staying home with young children.
- Moving to another city for a spouse’s career.
- Helping to take care of elderly parents.
- Retiring early.
- Taking a leave of absence.
- Recovering from an illness.
- Being laid off.
- Attempting to start a self-run business.
Women who exited the workforce for one reason or another and are now ready to re-enter are faced with several dilemmas including:
- Will others view you as too old?
- Who hires women who are not in their 20s or 30s?
- How will the gap in your resume be explained?
- Have you kept up with current technology?
Women who want to re-enter the workforce after many years away are faced with a true challenge. Not only is there a stigma attached to women who took time off to raise their children, but advances in technology over the past decade have been so significant that anyone who has not stayed up-to-date on the changes over the years is sure to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of learning new and advanced computer operating systems and software.
Never Fear… There ARE Jobs for Women Who Haven’t Worked in a While
Just because you spent several years tending to some of life’s other duties does not mean that you are not smart, talented, and able to handle a job in today’s working world. The disadvantages you must face do exist, but that does not mean you cannot overcome them. Therefore, when aspiring to re-enter the workforce, you must do so with a positive attitude and self-confidence.
Keep the following in mind when making the decision to re-enter the workforce and when applying for open positions:
You don’t necessarily have to find a job in the same industry that employed you before you left the workforce.
Unless you really loved what you did before you took a break from working, there is no need to think you must return to the same type of job. In fact, the job market has changed so much over the past 10 years the same exact job might not even exist any longer. When you re-enter the work force this time, make sure it’s for something you will truly enjoy. Consider going back to school if it will help you obtain the job you want.
Don’t take just any job that is offered to you.
Just because you have been out of the workforce for several years does not mean that your skills and experience are worthless. Do not convince yourself that all you can handle is a minimum wage or entry-level job. Be selective in the job you take. You will want to find something that is a good match for you.
Realize that it will not be easy to re-enter the workforce.
If you expect to find a great job within the first few days of looking, you are going to be disappointed. It will take time and patience to find the right job.
Update your technology skills.
If you have not kept up with technology over the past several years you are going to be at a disadvantage when seeking employment. Your best defense is taking classes and brushing up your computer skills before applying for jobs.
Re-entering the workforce takes drive and a positive attitude.
You can do anything you set your mind to do, and you should realize that you are not in the same category as the 18 or 20-year-olds that just graduated from high school or college. Not only do you have previous work experience, but you also have life skills and you are mature. Many employers are looking for people with these qualities.
When you apply for jobs, you will need to send your resume. There are many recommended methods for explaining gaps in formal employment. There is no way that you have been sitting on your couch eating bon-bons for the past 10 years. Did you help organize events at your children’s school? Did you volunteer on the PTA? Did you travel and learn about foreign countries? Did you help raise funds for your child’s sports team? All of these and many more real-world experiences can help fill in the blanks on your resume. Re-entering the workforce is a true challenge, but it can certainly be done!
Melanie Fischer is a writer for AllStarJobs.com , a website that contains more than 1,000 career descriptions and profiles, career-related articles and a job board that lists thousands of current positions open across the United States.