I admit it, I am one of those sentimental fools with letters to my kids in the safety deposit box (please remind my husband in case he forgets). They would be a bit mortifying if published, even in this anonymous blogging world, right?

However, there are a few things I could pass on not only to my daughters, but maybe to yours as well.  Since I am sure your daughters are as unlikely to listen to you as mine to me, perhaps we could trade and share our stories with them! 

So here goes: Girls…..

1)Fearlessly search for a sustainable passion. If you love it, you will keep yourself involved one way or another over your lifetime. Many of us were encouraged to follow the “serious” career path-the one that our mothers were discouraged from following. Nothing wrong with serious-but it should connect with you. I truly feel this is what made it easier for many of us to “drop out”. There was no gut connection to our career even on our best days. So in the end it didn’t really matter if it was high paying-once you’ve left and it’s “no paying”, that point is moot! Even if you completely change direction later on, you will have had a taste of passion and won’t settle for anything less.

2)Embrace the love of making money for its own sake. This might go against #1, but I have noticed that many of us girls never took pride in the pleasure of just making the cash. Why is this? It certainly tides the boys over the rough patch or two that are bound to come up even in the most passionate pursuits. Maybe it’s just my age, but it all seemed a bit beneath us to be working for the money. Now I see it’s the ticket to true financial and emotional freedom. As Gordon Gekko said, “Greed is GOOD!” 

3) Feel free to take the time you need for detours. I still believe this can be done while heeding the lessons of “The Feminine Mistake”. Just keep vigilant during the detour just as you would if you were taking any unknown road. Don’t lose track of what’s going on with the road you jumped off-you never know when you will want to get back on.

And if  you leave the line,  be sure to visit from time to time with yummy snacks so they save you a spot somewhere!

What about you, wise friends? What else can we share with our daughters?

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Alright, I don’t really expect cuts in the line of the corporately employed. I would never presume to have kept pace in the queue with my cohorts who never took the detours I did. Those friends have sacrificed much and are running the show-well deserved! Even a first grader knows you have to get everyone around you to agree to let you back in before you leave your spot.

As I mentioned the other day, my career has not been a conventional one. I originally jumped off the corporate trajectory to allow for a more flexible workplace and family. I’ve got to admit I might have banked a bit too much on the working world’s warm welcome the first time around. When the chairman of my company called on my last day to encourage me to let him know when I wanted to return, perhaps he didn’t expect that call to come 20 years later! I guess it wasn’t just a blink of an eye to the rest of the world.

The topic of the assumption of re-emergence is covered painfully well in “The Feminine Mistake” by Leslie Bennetts. The women of my generation experienced few initial obstacles in the 80s and 90s. Did it come so easily for us that we took it for granted-like that “nice boy” that you just don’t appreciate? I know many of us were sure when the time was right, we would find our place again.

All I can say is I have far too many friends right now completely dumbfounded and flailing trying to rejoin the workforce and not meeting with much success. We need to do a better job of positively pitching our experiences from the other lines where we have been standing.

And if there is a next time that I get out of line, you can be sure I’ll get everyone to swear on “cuts allowed” when I return! 

 

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Regardless of the fabulous single process color of my hair, the graduation date on my resume is the elephant in any interview room. “I thought she was a lot younger than that” is the best I can hope for as they do the math, hopefully comparing me to their age and not their mother’s!

You see, it’s a Catch-22. I’ve spent some years out of the corporate loop. So, of course it’s important to fill those dreaded gaps with impacting action phrases describing my successful, if unconventional ventures. Which all of a sudden makes me both overqualified and dramatically unproven at the same time.

I have applied for some positions only to be either rejected as it’s deemed below my qualifications or promoted to interview for a senior position where other candidates more seamlessly fit the mold. Would I sound lacking in confidence (or the desperado I sense I am becoming) to admit, “Hey, just bring me on at any level. I know I can do it and the clock is ticking!”

You see, I wasn’t expecting to keep pace with my peers that toiled these past 20 years in a conventional job. But it is becoming shockingly clear that there was an expiration date on the value of my original corporate experience-and some view my date should land me in the spoiled bin!

Matt Youngquist, author of Career Horizons: The Blog! offers an insightful punch list of issues for those of us engaged in the post 40 job search. It is spot on in assessing these silent but deadly misgivings the guy across the table might be having. I plan on working my way down the list to be better prepared for my next fabulous opportunity.

How’s that for optimism? What are your secrets for keeping the faith?

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In my spastic attempts to re-enter the working world, I have committed several missteps that would be funny if they weren’t devastatingly stupid. Let’s share war stories. Here’s the first in my list of Top Things Not To Do.

Save Your Best Outfit for Your Follow-Up Interview-Ok, this one is “girlie”, I know. But it applies to many aspects of the process. Sometimes your best (and only) shot might be right off the bat. Mine seems to have been. An “informational” interview set up with a top PR VP was offered to me last year. I was beyond excited as I bought the fabulous suit for the interview process that was sure to follow. But what to wear to the “informational”? I cringe looking back at the khaki dress pulled out while the power suit was “saved” for the full day interviews surely to follow. I got so ahead of myself, I forgot to focus on the here and now. A mistake that also applied to the resume that was still a bit weak and the shared confidences of bits of insecurity with the VP after we hit it off so well.

Let’s just say the “follow-up” Silence was not so Golden!   

How many times have I told me kids, “You only have one chance to make a first impression”. There is no such thing as “informational”. Go for it at every opportunity.

I unfortunately have a few more to share with you in the coming days. How about you? Any good ones?

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So now its true confession time. People ask, “How’s that job search going?” and I would love to have a reply of the many actual interviews I have taken and offers I am considering. Do I really admit I have hardly left my computer screen?

I have to say I don’t feel as crazy since I started sharing post-40 job search struggles with friends in the same boat. You would think the Internet search engines of GoDaddy.com, Careerbuilder.com and Monster.com would make this whole process a breeze. But instead they have created WasteYourWholeDayStaringAtAMonitor.com!

Talk about overthinking-I have debated my entire  year’s vacation plans, wardrobe options and possible train schedules over a new job posting. I have written and rewritten cover letters to someone I will never meet. I have creatively filled the dreaded resume “gap” with action sounding entries to avoid the obvious-I spent a few decades holding puke buckets and playing amateur shrink to my household. 

But here’s the truth, hours later that “Submit” button finally gets pushed by my sweaty finger and then-NOTHING. Where is the graveyard of overwrought  submissions?

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So it hit me in Body Pump Class (if that doesn’t set the scene, nothing will!) There I was, shoulder to shoulder, with my perky friends lifting our barbells and I am feeling fine. We are, of course, a varying range of ages, but as I have said, age has lost its significance to me lately. What does it matter if they are dropping their tots off in babysitting while I take calls from my college girls? I had my children young. We are united in our rhythmic pumping and that’s what matters, right?

Then it happened. Someone brought up the new cast of Dancing With The Stars (another post perhaps on obsessive reality shows). It seemed Phyllis aka Cloris Leachman would be the senior novelty dancer. Laughter from me, as I am much younger that Cloris, of course. And then, a questioning voice pierces the air, “Who is Cloris Leachman?” Being the pop culture diva I like to think I am, I roll my eyes to remind the sheltered of Cloris’ long list of favorites-Young Frankenstein and High Anxiety. And of course, the MOST important Mary Tyler Moore connection. Then I notice…..

Most of my “friends” are still stumped on her identity! They can’t all be that sheltered? It hits me, my friends are now a different generation than I am. When did this happen? What does this mean? When did I stop being the young one? Once again, I have lost track of time.

As MTM would say, “Oh, Rhoooooda!”

 

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Like a chapter right out of The Feminine Mistake, my story is both surprising and ridiculously typical. First scene starts with wide eyed 80s girl in grey pin striped suit and floppy silk bow tie (remember those?) working her way through executive training program by day and living the high life at night. It all comes so easily as the organization pulls me through the ranks, thrilled to have an up and comer with nylons on. Even the birth of my first baby did not slow this train down, as the accommodating bosses offer up an amazing part time executive work week for me. It all should have been “cake and eat it too”, right?

Oh, but its BORING! And there seems more money than ever needed with two preppy dress-for-success incomes.  Oh, did I mention it was boring? I could hop off this train and get on at another stop down the road that I might find more fulfilling. Yes, that’s what I’ll do.  There is no way I will lose my sense of worth, since I have been competing elbow-to-elbow (not to mention shoulder pad-to-shoulder pad) with the boys. I have decades to get this all figured out.

Worse case, these guys won’t forget me, right? Familiar tale, anyone…….

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