Back to work after a 15-year gap: ask the expert

I am a 46 year old trying to get back to work after 15-year gap taking care of the kids.  I have worked before in customer services in banks etc.  Where do I fit?  What are my chances as a personal assistant with banks or is it only for the younger generation?

How you fit into the workplace now depends  a lot on what you’ve been doing while your children were growing up.  You need to think about any extra skills, qualifications and personal development you’ve obtained that might be useful in the workplace.

Have you, for example:-

–          taken on any roles (playgroup organiser, treasurer, liaison officer, etc) in any groups you belong to that you could use to show your “people management” and organisational skills?

–          taken on any special projects  (eg fighting a local planning application) that show your ability to think creatively, research issues and make presentations?

–          taken any work-relevant training courses (eg the European Computer Driving Licence, Counselling courses and so on)

–          lots of personal contacts that an employer might find useful (eg if you’re one of the “ladies who lunch” any employer who markets to such clients could be interested in employing you)?

–          any highly specialised hobbies (eg if you’re a highly skilled needlewoman an organisation like the National Trust might be able to use you on its team of people conserving historic textiles)?

Although much of your experience and qualifications (eg “A” Levels, degree, RSA etc) will be from the time before you had your children they may still help you to a job.  Make a note of them.

Having made your list of all the reasons why you might be an attractive candidate for jobs as yet unspecified, your next task is to identify the type of jobs for which you’d be a good applicant.  The easiest way of doing this is to work through the jobs advertised online in your local newspaper.  What specific skills, experience and qualifications do local employers ask for when they’re recruiting for jobs that might interest you?  Is there any hint from the advertisements that employers might be prepared to be flexible on certain points in order to employ someone with the key skills they want?

By this stage, you’ll know what you can offer prospective employers and will have targeted jobs for which you’d be a strong applicant.  Good luck with the job search!

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