Q: I’m a 50-something looking to re-enter the workforce after a decade-long absence during which I was a “trailing spouse”. My husband’s career had us relocating every couple of years; during that time I also received my Ph.D. I’m concerned about explaining the “gap” in my work history given that most online applications are first reviewed by computer algorithms. I’m also concerned about listing my Ph.D. – afraid it will scare people away. My last professional job was as an Executive Assistant to a CEO. Any advice is appreciated.
A: I’m not ‘gonna lie. It takes courage and determination to re-enter the workforce after a 10-year absence as a 50-something. But, like any job search (at any age), if you develop a strategy and keep the right mental outlook it can be done.
Plan your strategy.
- What groups will you join to network? Most cities have entities that help out job seekers like the Chamber of Commerce, workforce councils and such. Take advantage of what they offer. Through them, you’ll meet others and learn about other groups.
- What is your online presence? Make sure you have a strong LinkedIn profile that highlights what you have to offer. Join LinkedIn groups as well.
- What types of companies will you target? Large vs. small. Private vs. public. Techie vs. old school.
- What type of jobs will you apply for? If you remain in the executive assistant field I would leave off the Ph.D. on applications (but list it on LinkedIn) and concentrate on including “keywords” for the skills they want so the algorithm finds you.
- I wouldn’t overly worry about the gap– when you complete an application there’s usually a place where you can add a comment. Simply give the same explanation you did above, including that you furthered your education in that period.
Don’t forget the mental component of your search.
- You must believe in your own value: maturity, experience, stability, dependability computer skills or whatever you think that is. Nurture your self-esteem. Fake it if you must, until you believe it.
- Do you like your current appearance? This is a great time to update your haircut, glasses and wardrobe. Don’t underestimate how much a polished look contributes to our self-assurance.
Lastly, surround yourself with supportive uplifting people. What you’re doing is difficult but doable. Good luck from another 50-something.
Originally posted on HR Box blog.