LADIES, DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB
This is a serious message for women: If you’re married with children or have a baby on the way, don’t quit your day job. After a gap on your resume of a few years or more, it will be extremely challenging to return to the current level of your career. Even worse, it may be nearly impossible to return to the full-time workforce at all.
Bottom line: If a woman gives up her career, she limits her power to make life choices. Financial independence is critical to everyone’s future.
MEN ARE EXPECTED TO BE PROVIDERS AND BREADWINNERS
Most men work full-time throughout their lives whether they’re employed by a corporation, small business, or self-employed as an entrepreneur. Unless they’re born into automatic wealth, men are expected to be the providers and breadwinners for their spouses and families.
As a result, most men build their careers from their 20’s to their 60’s with a solid retirement and/or 401K. The majority of men use stepping stones to title jump their way up to the top of the corporate ladder or end up owning their own corporations.
WOMEN ARE EXPECTED TO MAKE A CHOICE BETWEEN CAREER AND CHILDREN
When children are born, most women are forced to make a choice between becoming a caretaker or financial independence. Either they become working moms and hire childcare or they take a few years up to a decade or more out of the workforce to raise their children. Most often, the women in relationships serve as the primary caregivers. When choices are made to put careers on hold and step out of the full-time workforce, it alters a woman’s future forever. Sometimes women are fortunate and find part-time work, become consultants, or string together freelance work. But the choices made to step out of the workforce for any lengthy period of time put future financial independence at risk.
WHOEVER CONTROLS THE MONEY, HOLDS THE POWER
Single women and single mothers know how important it is to be financially independent. Single ladies work their way up the career ladder and eventually, many of them end up with higher salaries and a window office.
Married women think when they make a decision to stay home to raise the children, it won’t be a problem leaving the workforce because they’ll go back to a job in a few years with a matching or higher income. When a decade passes, getting back into the workforce will be challenging. That income will also dissipate with the choice to leave the workforce.
WOMEN ARE TOUGHEST ON WOMEN WHEN APPLYING FOR JOBS
Most often, it’s female executives, who didn’t stay home with their children, didn’t marry, or divorced, who will be the hardest on mothers trying to get back into the workforce. If you’ve been out of the workforce for a few years to a decade or more, female executives and female human resource representatives are the toughest on women who stepped out of the workforce. I have no idea why but I hear the stories over and over again about women being tough on women. There’s very little overt camaraderie between working female execs and non-working females. Most working women do not respect non-working women trying to get back into the workforce. For women who have been out of the workforce, men are far easier to interview with than women. Unfortunately, women don’t get to choose who does the interviewing and I’ve heard the cruelest comments and judgments come from female interviewers.
REALITY: AGEISM IS REAL ESPECIALLY FOR WOMEN
Your age matters. It may be against the law to reference your age, but fewer corporate interviewers seem to care about the law. An applicant’s age is being referenced in job interviews regularly by women about women.
One interviewer told a woman interviewing for a job: “I see women trying to reinvent themselves at your age all the time. It’s not going to work. The woman who owns the company is 35 and she’s won’t want to give orders to someone who is older and more experienced than her.”
Another interviewer told a woman interviewing for a job: “We only hire people under the age of 38. Most of them are in their 20’s or early 30’s.”
For some reason, male interviewers ignore referencing a woman’s age directly but may not truly consider a former homemaker as a candidate for full-time work. “You’ve got a great resume but . . . Are you going to be able to keep up with a full-time job? There’s no nap time on the job.”
It’s condescending conversation but it’s happening in interviews.
HOW OLD IS TOO OLD TO BE HIRED?
If you’re over the age of 38 and you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, good luck getting full-time work. It’s going to be challenging. If your age isn’t referenced directly, they’ll reference the gap on your resume. You have a chance at being hired by the right person in the right situation.
If you’re over the age of 45 and you’ve been out of the workforce for several years, best wishes on getting full-time work. It’s going to be difficult. If your age isn’t referenced directly, they’ll tell you that you need retraining or need an overhaul of your resume because the format is outdated. They are basically saying you’re outdated and not going to get the job.
If you’re over the age of 50 and you’ve been out of the workforce for a decade or more, it will be next to impossible to get full-time work. Most likely, your age or the youthful ages of other employees will be referenced. An interviewer will say, “We like to hire recent college graduates.” That’s an age reference. It’s best you start working part-time jobs and freelancing ASAP to rebuild your resume. Starting your own company might be the only way to earn an income.
PREPARE FOR THE WHAT IF’S
What if your spouse is fired, laid-off, or blackballed by an entire industry?
Workplaces can be very political, management can be replaced, or an employee can simply age out. If it costs less to hire someone half an employee’s age, firings can take place. Be prepared to become the breadwinner unexpectedly. It will default to you to help replace your spouse’s salary.
What if your spouse unexpectedly leaves you for another woman and tries to get out providing spousal support and/or child support?
Be prepared for the day when you may be suddenly alone and struggling financially because you haven’t been working or no one will hire you for a decent salary. The “happily ever after” marriage remains a gift but there’s no guarantee anymore. Our world has changed dramatically. The availability of emotional and physical affairs has increased with the progress of technology and the Internet. Even monogamy seems to be discouraged in the media. You can no longer rely on the partnership of marriage or a belief in your spouse to pay the bills. You must take part, earn an income, and contribute or save money for a rainy day.
What if your spouse announces he wants a divorce?
There’s no way to faster financial ruin than divorce. Look at your family’s total income. Now, imagine splitting that amount between two homes. It’s not easy. List all of your expenses. If you think you’ll get $3K to $5K a month in alimony and child support, think again. I personally know women who only receive $300 a month in child support and no alimony. They’re scrambling to find work because they can’t afford housing, food, car insurance, and child expenses on $300 a month. It’s best to keep one foot in the workforce at all times and prepare for a rainy day. If it doesn’t rain, be grateful and create a savings account for yourself.
What if your spouse becomes injured or even worse, dies unexpectedly, will you be able to support yourself and your children?
I have met with so many married unemployed women who have had to face the unexpected death of a spouse. It’s not only earth-shattering emotionally, but also financially devastating. The truth is that most women are completely unprepared for an unexpected illness or death of a spouse.
DANCE BACK INTO THE WORKFORCE NOW
Before the bottom of the ship drops out unexpectedly, get back into the workforce now. It’s always easier to be hired for a better job when you’re working full-time. If your kids are out of diapers, figure out a way to make it work. Even if you’re only able to find part-time work, do it so you’re prepared to work full-time when the time comes.
Do not stand by and wait for full-time, high-paying job opportunities to fall into your lap.
Do not wait for the phone to ring unexpectedly with a job offer from a friend in your former industry. It won’t happen if you’re off the radar or no longer in touch.
Don’t expect return phone calls from people in your former network. Loyalty often dies or dissipates when you leave a job. A few years might seem like yesterday to you, but the old adage is true: out of sight, out of mind.
4 WAYS TO GET BACK INTO THE WORKFORCE
- Remove Dates from Your Resume. Apply for jobs where your skills matter more than the dates you worked. Eliminate the year you graduated from high school and college, too. If you’re over 38, listing the dates and years of your work experience will only remove you from consideration to be interviewed.
- Apply on ZipRecruiter.com. It’s one of the few places where gaps on your resume don’t matter. ZipRecruiter has turned the job board industry upside down by offering a speed-dating approach to interviewing. You will absolutely get interviews if you apply through ZipRecruiter.
- Overhaul Your Resume. Do your research and redesign your resume. It’s very difficult to beat the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) so you need your resume to show active verbs when listing your accomplishments. Tailor your resume to the job description.
- Retrain and Educate Yourself Every Day. Learn new computer programs. Take classes online. Check out free classes on Udemy. Ask friends to teach you how to use apps and design programs. Be a lifelong learner so you can get a job.
Most importantly, you have to show a business that you’re hungry to work. When interviewing for a job, show up ready to start your future.