A job search can be intimidating for even the most confident person. It's all the more daunting after an emotional set back like divorce.
Perhaps you want to start a whole new life direction for yourself. Or maybe you're re-entering the job market after a long absence.
Are your skills current? How you will handle an interview? How you will measure up against other job-seekers? Here's how to brush yourself off and make your job search pay off:
1. Fill in the blanks. Is there a gap in your resume staring you in the face? Find a way to fill it. Even if you weren't working outside the home, you still developed and maintained many skills that translate to the workplace. Present them in a way that shows off your strengths and demonstrates that you're qualified to handle ANYTHING that comes your way. Chances you did something that called for business skills. Did you:
- Organize the Scout cookie drive, food bank collection, wreath sales?
- Work as a teacher's aid, or in the office of your local school?
- Volunteer to support of a political candidate or environmental cause?
- Write, edit or publish your school/church newsletter?
These types of experience are just as important as those used in a paying job, so list them. If you haven't done any volunteer work, address the gap in your cover letter. Add a few sentences to say after being out of the workforce for several years to raise a family (certainly no small feat in itself!) you are ready and eager to return.
2. Get current. It may be time to hit the books. If you're looking for office work but your computer experience begins and ends with Solitaire, get busy and take some classes. Here's how you can get started:
- Does your local community college have programs to help women returning to the workforce?
- Does your state's unemployment office offer free or inexpensive courses to get you up to speed?
- If you're looking to return to the industry in which you worked previously, brush up on trends, news-makers and key companies in that field. Join professional associations and read industry Web sites and trade journals. In no time at all you will be well versed in insider trends.
3. Plug into your personal network. Don't bury your head in the computer and stay there. Technology is great. But the best way to get a job is still to put yourself out there in person. This is not the time to be shy. Take a deep breath and focus on meeting people through mutual friends — the same way you do in other areas of your life.
- Reach out and connect with former colleagues and working friends.
- Tell everyone you meet that you're looking for work.
- Ask for leads on jobs and introductions to other people.
- If you're targeting your job search in a specific industry, join a professional group. No matter what your field, you'll find an association to go along with it.
- Look specifically for working women support groups. They will be full of women just like you, who've been where you are right now, and who can offer support and valuable advice.
- If you're very shy or not used to networking, join your local Toastmasters. You'll learn to polish your conversation skills and feel at ease in business as well as social environments.
- If you attended college, your alumni association can be a useful resource — no matter how long ago you graduated.
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