Transitioning back into the workforce after a divorce is like a double whammy. Not only has your entire life just changed, from where you live to sharing child care responsibilities, to the loss of in-laws (not always a bad thing), and sometimes even friends. You need to figure out which box your resume is actually in, since the last time you used it, we still had floppy drives. The thought of applying for a job after all of that can throw even the most centered person into panic mode!
Here are some ideas to help you get started moving forward and go back to work after a divorce:
1. First things first: just because you were an accountant the last time you worked outside the home does not mean you have to go back to being an accountant. Talk to your friends about their jobs, what they love, what they hate. Look online at the job boards. Start with your dream job, even if you aren’t qualified. You’re just investigating for now, so consider this “research”. The first thing that I do with women that I’m coaching is figure out what gets them up in the morning. What do they love to do? What would they do if money wasn’t the object of working? If you love tennis, think about what it is you love about tennis. Is it the strategy of the game? Is it the competition? Is it being part of a team?
2. Once you’ve identified some areas of interest work on, write a two to four sentence “About Me” statement or “Elevator Pitch”. You need to be able to concisely tell someone why you are interested in becoming a project manager, for example. Think about how your being the PTA president for the past four years makes you uniquely qualified for project management. Hiring managers really do realize that just because you were a SAHM doesn’t mean that you were sitting around eating Bon Bons all day while the kids were at school!
3. Tell everyone you know that you are going back to work and are considering new options. Use the three-foot rule: if you are within three feet of someone, tell them you are looking for a job. One of the universal truths that I’ve discovered is that people really do want to help other people! Be able to tell them how they can help you though: “I’d really like to meet someone who works in the marketing department of ABC Company.” Or, “I’m considering going into advertising. Do you know anyone that I could speak with at XYZ Agency?”
4. Conduct informational interviews. This is the fun part: get on LinkedIn and find people that are doing the job you’d love to have. Connect with them and tell them that you are considering going into the same field and would love to hear how they got to where they are today. Universal truth #2: People love to talk about themselves!
5. Google is your friend. Google “Project Manager Resumes”, for example. Then click on “Images”. You’ll be able to view resumes of people with a similar skill set and determine what they have that you don’t. Or, more importantly, what they have that you also have, too! **Tip: you can Google the job title and your zip code so that your results will be tailored to people in your area with the same skill set.
6. Call a recruiter who specializes in your area of interest. I bet if you ask around, you’ve got a least one friend or friend of a friend who is a recruiter. (Google is still your friend, too.) If you’ve got a resume, ask them to review it. Realize that recruiters spend between eight and ten seconds (yes, seconds) on a resume, so you’ll need to know how to make an impact quickly. They can also help you to determine if you’ll need additional certifications or schooling in order to move forward.
7. A word about going back to school. As a coach, I don’t encourage people to go back to school initially. I find most people are using this as their reason why they haven’t gone back to work yet. Just because you have additional schooling or a degree doesn’t mean you are now automatically qualified for the job. Remember how frustrating it was finding your first job of out college? It was a case of “you need experience to get experience”. This is still true regardless of your age. I’m not saying getting additional education is always a bad idea. I am saying it’s not the ultimate answer, particularly if you need to get back to work quickly.
8. Be open to new ideas and new roles. It’s quite possible that the job you’d like to do now didn’t even exist 10 years ago.
9. Consider working with a career coach. Most of us have a “servant’s heart” and will walk alongside you on your journey while being a mentor, personal cheerleader, and accountability partner. Some of the things a coach can do for you are: discover your true calling, teach online search strategies, create or polish a resume, prep you for an interview, assist in negotiating a salary, write your LinkedIn profile, and so much more.
Most of all, don’t panic! It’s a candidate’s market right now. Companies are hiring, and with the right research and resume, you can easily position yourself to be back in the workforce sooner rather than later.
Nancy Rabern is a career coach who works with individuals on identifying, applying, and interviewing for their dream job. She specializes in working with women returning to the workforce. She lives in Roswell, Georgia with her second husband, three boys, one cat, one dog, and one basset hound who is a species unto herself! www.nancyrabern.com