I read an essay in today’s paper by a woman in her forties looking for employment after years of being out of the work force. The theme of the piece seemed to be resentment that the writer’s work experience doesn’t go far toward getting her a job right now. She was whining about the advice she was given by company representatives at a job fair she attended, professionals who told her to drop work experience gleaned twenty years ago from her resume. They said that potential employers would only focus on experience that could translate into current workplace needs, and her long ago jobs in retail were more or less irrelevant.
More than that, the lack of any entries for the last two decades would send up a red flag to prospective employers. Better not to list any work experience at all and just state her job objective and related education. She felt diminished and insulted by their feedback. What about her job as a mother? Didn’t that count for anything? Her assertion that raising two children to adulthood requires more multitasking than a company president made me cringe. And not because I don’t agree with her. It just doesn’t belong on a resume. The purpose of a resume is to present oneself as a valuable asset, not validate one’s life.
The writer was proud of the fact that she had no smartphone, Facebook account, or LinkedIn profile. She somehow believed this would recommend her as more reliable and serious than a young person who was constantly updating their status and texting covertly in meetings. Is that what her adult children do? The lady doth protest too much, methinks. If I could stand in front of this essay writer, I would try and disavow her of such a negative opinion of all young people. It makes her sound threatened and insecure, to say nothing of old-farty. Then I would encourage her not to wax poetic about her days of typing on an IBM Selectric when she could get empowered learning Microsoft Office.
I would tell her that the world won’t change even if she can prove the old days were better. And that employers seek candidates with energy, flexibility, and a positive attitude. Skills are a must, and experience a plus, but the applicant who closes the deal needs to show something extra, regardless of age. A curious mind is a beautiful thing. One that is anchored to the past and dismissive (or afraid) of what it takes to stay current is likely to sit through a bunch of interviews with nothing to show for it but a cranky essay.
If this writer asked me, I would suggest that if she has no recent work experience, she could start volunteering. Nonprofits will give a reference for good work just like a corporation. Not only that, volunteers are more likely to be hired when positions open up. If that’s not appealing, she could take some classes in a local college’s adult education program, or audit university courses that interest her. If she is a college graduate, even from twenty years ago, her alma mater probably offers workshops to help alumni develop skills the present workplace requires. I just attended one that helped me refine my LinkedIn profile and understand the realm of endorsements. Workshops on every topic exist everywhere, starting at the local library. Step number one is leaving the house. Step number two is embracing the present. Step three is to just suck it up and move forward. The future will come, prepared or not. And it won’t hesitate to leave anyone behind.
Daughter’s Featured Fotos travel the globe in 2013, New York to India
HAPPY NEW YEAR ONE AND ALL