Friday, April 3, 2009

The Things I Dont Know Could Get Me a Job...but

I am job searching.

I am searching for a job. High and low the searching goes on. Dont get me wrong...I know where the jobs are...they arent lost or anything...Im just having a heck of a time securing one that will give me some measure of financial security and a night not fraught with anxious disturbed sleep over unpaid bills and shoes not bought for the kids etc. Being a single unemployed mom has some serious side effects...sigh. (all though I wouldnt change my divorced status for anything)

Anyhow, I would have to guess that the one thing really holding me back from securing my Dream Job...or even my Anything Will Do the fact that I have very little work history compared to my age. Im 40.

Whew! I said it...and Im still conscious.

To be clear...I havent lived my whole life without being employed...I have had a few jobs over the years...started out with the military straight out of high school...but that was way back...way waaaay back...hardly seems to make a difference now....or should I say it doesnt really impress potential bosses here.

Ive worked in food...short stint in a private school (I didnt last long cause I found out I wasnt allowed to smack the children...even the ones that deserved it...sigh!) and my longest job was with Nass Construction as the Document Controller. That was a complicated (for me at least in the beginning) job that required a lot of fast on the job learning on my part...but learn the job I did. Unfortunately I was hired to be a secretary...was later rather forced into the position of D.C. as our regular went on holiday...and just kept on doing it even when he came back....but...the company did not acknowledge the fact that I had been doing the D.C.s job for over a year...had nothing to do with being a secretary anymore...but I was not designated as D.C. and not given a D.C. salary....and so when I put on my resume that I worked for Nass...I have to put secretary and not D.C.(while secretary is a worthy and valuable position...D.C. just has more responsibilities and work). The name itself even sounds more professional and a tad higher up on the career ladder in my opinion (sorry to all the secretaries out there).

Anyhow, so my problem really in my search for a job is that Im doing it with a resume that leaves a lot to be desired. Its kind of hard to explain that I was married half my life to a man that believed women shouldnt work. Its not that I didnt want to work or wasnt capable of it...I just wasnt allowed that opportunity. This means that I have no certificates (other than military ones that are ancient) real work history other than just this past few years...hardly enough to fill a page and a half of a properly spaced resume formatted material...and my age itself doesnt lend me a hand in acquiring a position as many businesses want "young and fresh" and "trainable" seems 35 is the cut off age for apparent ability and intelligence over here for even an average type job.

My one real "skill" turns up as just a "hobby" on my resume' since I, all though I enjoy it immensely and can turn a mean phrase now and then...Ive never made money from it or had a job dealing with I really cant list it in a more powerful way then just plain hobby...can I? I like to write...I maintain a blog...I be good at it...ugh!

Im an intelligent woman (graduated on the honor roll back in the day when my brain was at full of learning with maybe just one or two demonstrations (sometimes three if it involves something mechanical) and I have learned a lot of skills over my 40 year life span that doesnt exactly translate to resume material...if you know what I mean. And yet I feel absolutely stupid when applying for a job. I feel unqualified and unimpressive even when the position is nothing more scholarly then answering phones and greeting people. (no offense to people that do that). Im guessing my long history of self esteem issues are not helping me at all in this respect...anyhow....

Now heres the funny thing in all this pathetic posting...Ive been receiving lots of advice from people who know Im desperately searching for a job. I get newspaper clippings with ads in them...I get phone calls letting me know of something that "just opened up" and I get emails for job site search links to help me along...I also get lots of illegal advice on how to secure a job....such as...

1. buy a certificate off the net...nobody ever checks
2. lists skills you dont have to make yourself look better
3. lists jobs you never make yourself look more employable...nobody ever checks

etc etc blah blah blah

Now beside the fact that I would never do anything illegal to get employed...just asking for trouble far as I can see....I have a real problem listing skills I supposedly have that I really have no clue about. Picture this.

I list on my resume that among many of my accomplishments...Im a demon at fly fishing. I get the job and one day my Fly Fishing crazy boss (wouldnt you know it)invites me to come along and join him for some fly fishing fun. Oh joy!! So either I spend some frenzied moments (or days or weeks etc) brushing up on my supposed fly fishing skills...or I show the boss the ass that I am by not having a clue about something I professed to be proficient at. Of course fly fishing is not really the skill Im thinking of when searching for an office type job etc...but Im sure you get the point.

Why declare that you are capable of performing some task...can operate some form of software...or even that you have knowledge of how to use whatever it is that company uses (example: machinery etc)? Why put yourself in a potential position to shame and embarrass yourself and give the boss and those around you to see you for the lying ass that you are? You might not get fired but you sure wont be getting any promotions or recommendations from that job anytime soon Im thinking.

So while everyone is telling me to "beef" up my pitiful resume if Im "serious" about getting a job...Im sitting here I want a job bad enough to lie for it? And what will the possible consequences of that be for me (even if the lie is never discovered how will I feel about myself having taken that step?)

On the other hand...the only jobs Im potentially capable of getting are very low paid jobs that will not even come close to supporting my children and I...even while living a very meagre existence. And while I cant exactly be choosy here...having a low paid job is better than a no paid job...when I walk into an interview the interviewer seems to immediately sum me up based on what, I dont know...but Im starting to assume it boils down to one thing...Im American. That seems to be the sole focus of discussion for most of them. Soooo Im either overqualified (how exactly?) or the job is culturally more suited to a man or foreigner (example: Hindi or Filipina etc)

So the combination of nearly a lifelong unemployment certificates obvious way to demonstrate my capabilities and intellect...and a work culture that is extremely fixed in its ways...Im having a heck of a time finding even an adequate nonscholarly type job.

Ive been back in Bahrain since Jan and Im depending on friends to support me and my kids and pay my bills etc until I can manage on my own. My ex is refusing to pay child support and we are going rounds in the court (another worthy post) and so money coming in is nil.I cant even take this "time off" to gain some sort of certificate etc as I have no money for any type of class or course to earn a genuine credential. Its a vicious circle...argh!!!

I want to pull some hair out and run over my frustration.

Wouldnt it be nice if you could walk into an interview and be able to demonstrate who YOU really are and what your capable of doing...despite what your resume says or doesnt say...wouldnt it?

Has there ever been a boss who just felt there was something about you worth taking a chance on...or giving a chance too (I only happens in the movies).

If only?

Its disheartening and a daily reminder of a life spent living (such as it was) while desires and goals went unrealized. 40 is not old...but its certainly not young anymore...wheres my chance? Wheres my open door of opportunity?

5 children are depending on me...and so far...Ive got nothing.


marianna68 said...

I am 40 also and it does suck when it comes to age discrimination. In the states jobs are seemingly hard to come by unless you think outside the box. I have and with my federal job I am also back in the Army National Guard, yes at my age lol...but 40 isn't what it used to be and you have allot of gumption/determination and am sure you will find something. I wish you only the very best. :^)

Chiara said...

If you haven't done so already read one of those "how to write a resume" books on consult online, and create an esthetically beautiful, highly legally truthful, one-page, "skills-based resume" (recommended for anyone with an employment gap for whatever reason) where you highlight your skills and put the evidence of your accomplishments within that. Key points are to "bury the dates" eg. no dates not required, no date of birth, or age, and do not start a line with the dates, or if you can manage to do not end a line with a date, but stick it in the middle if it is a necessary date.

eg. Florence Nightingale
contact information

Nursing Administration
Developped new methods of health care delivery, Nurse, military experience, 3 years, Crimea.

Introduced sterile techniques into battlefield nursing, Head Nurse, frontline,18XX-18XX, Crimea.

Professsional Writing
Responsible for reports on hospital reorganization to Chief of Medicine, Crimean Army Hospital, and War Department, Britain.

Learn computer skills online (no certificates necessary) to stay current, and read online about the people and issues in your chosen field and country of work.

At interviews look youthful(nb hair colour and makeup) and stylish (at least contemporary clothes), and energetic (spry) and Keen, Keen, Keen. Focus on the present and the future, how much you enjoy working and are looking forward to building a career now that all the children are in school fulltime (say with straight face and do not vomit).

Try for a job using your past experience, and/or writing talent, eg copy editing (anglophone that you are), writing and producing the company newsletter, marketing team, creating a company blog for staff/clients, human resources etc.

Try for a job with an American company (Bahraini cultural specialist that you are), international agency (same), or with the US military there(they are there right? and you were dishonorably discharged, and now want to serve your country again, right?)

Use all your social contacts, acquaintances, and leads. Do volunteer work to boost experience, confidence, and contacts.

In your hobby time, edit and write up your stories for publication--popular American women's magazines pay best. Abused by a Muslim in a Muslim country but survived and thrived (fake the latter if necessary) sells well. Publish under a pseudonym--to protect your children, and yourself, and to be so mysteriously real that you command more money. Memoirs sell best.

A friend was laid off at 63 and got an excellent career building job at 64 (she is careful to look and sound younger).

You probably knew all this but I thought it might help. :)

coolred38 said... Im impressed. back in the National Guard. You inspire

Chiara...thanks for the was helpful..only one correction...I was honourably discharged...just so you know. Gotta take my Kudos where i can get them.

Chiara said...

My sincere apologies--I honestly thought I typed what I meant "honourably discharged", or since it was from the US Air Force, "honorably discharged". Must have been mentally caught up in humourous double negatives and goofed.

Please feel free to edit out the "dis" (in both senses of the term). :)

Tanya said...

Coolred, totally feel you on that, and I am 10 years younger with no kids yet - it's a rough world out there, no matter how you slice it. I totally second all of Chiara's advice. I also agree you should try to sell your writing - women's mags, guide books, the Associated Press...etc. Also, Not sure if you want to go there, but maybe try advertising with Google Adsense on your blog...could be successful with minimal effort. Also, what about child-related businesses? You are certainly an expert in that with 4 kids. Or tutoring English? I bet you can make a killing with rich folks paying you for one-on-one tutoring! Stay Strong, as we all can tell you are from this blog!
PS - 40 is YOUNG!!!! Think about it like this - you have at least 20-30 years left to develop a career :-)
Also, you could try selling Bahraini crafts on e-bay or something like that...

coolred38 said... harm no foul...ha ha

Tanya...Ive gone the tutoring route many times...its hard to explain but its hard to teach english to people that have no desire to show up on time...but expect you to accomodate their lateness...and never want to pay mater how little you charge them...blah blah...anyhow...Im trying to figure out how to submit articles to mags etc...I havent a clue about that. I may be 40 in years...but I dont feel it (could lose some weight though...sigh)

Anyone know anything about that I would appreciate the info.

janice said...

CoolRed, I totally know where you're coming from. And with your "adventure" track record, lying on your resume wouldn't be a good thing. You WOULD be asked to go fly fishing, I just know it, LOL.

But beefing up your resume doesn't mean you have to lie. I think you can list your writing a "daily journal", aka blog, as a skill. If you know how to use Word or Excel, list those skills as well. If you've used Turbo Tax to do taxes add that skill too. And I would add all those military certs you have, you don't have to put the date when you earned them, let them think you just received them. Also, you should add all the skills you needed to perform the DC job.

But the most important thing is,(and you said it yourself) your self-esteem. Employers can sense it, you need to walk in there KNOWING you can do the job.

Best of luck, CoolRed. I hope this helps.

marahm said...

With all due respect to the previous commenters, I disagree that you should concentrate on trying to sell your writing. The field is too competitive, too flooded with wonderful manuscripts, and definately needs credentials in addition to good writing ability.

That's not to say I'd discourage you. Not at all, but if it's money you need, and need now, writing for it won't work. Even if you do sell an article or two, the pay is even lower than the lowest paying job you might secure in Bahrain, and even more erratic.

You might have to bite the bullet and take whatever job you can get, with an eye towards building the experience you need to either get promoted or write a more solid, honest resume. Good luck!

janice said...

And one more thing, CoolRed.

I'm 43, worked for 15 years then was laid off. Stayed home for 3 years and applied for PT jobs all over Columbus OH. The main questions was "what have you been doing for the last 3 years?" I told them that I'm an Amazon Marketplace Seller, aka "work from home business owner". One interveiwer said that phase and I added it to my resume. The next job interview went great and I got the job, at 43 years old.

Best of luck

coolred38 said...

Janice...thanks...those are good tips. Right on it. Im totally bummed out.

Just kidding....I realize unless I have the next best seller waiting to be published then I need to see that as a part time endeavor. No problem. Im willing to take whatever job I can just hasnt been offered yet.

The Queen said...

I was a stay at home mom for 7 years. I filled that in on my resume with 'multi-tasking managing skills' etc. There is no job more demanding than parenting while managing a home. You wouldn't have to lie and I wouldn't recommend it. Attitude ia all you need to worry about. You need to go into that interview(pr even job search)like you are doing them a favor by even considering working for them.

Chiara said...

Selling one's creative writing or memoirs, or any writing except as required as an employee of a company is only for extra money, not a salary base.

Still, it puts one's hobby to pecuniary use and at the very least serves as a tax deduction (self-employed income, tax deductible home office space,furnishings,supplies, utilities, related course fees, conference fees, mailing costs, magazine subscriptions, relevent books,research expenses, etc.)

Also, writing travel features (for tourists, expats, business people) turns being in Bahrain to your advantage, and magazines also pay well for these. (what to do with kids in Bahrain, Bahrain off the beaten path, an insider's guide to Bahrain, top 10 expat hangouts in Bahrain, the woman business traveller in Bahrain, Bahrain--more than just shopping and bars, etc)

An excellent how to and where to publish guide:

Some other good resources are listed on the same page (and there is a 2009 edition).

Also (online, and magazine)

A skills-based resume hides the time gaps and lets you incorporate the kind of home-based business experience described above (another reason for at least trying to sell your writing--you're not unemployed you're a writer, a poorly paid one but almost all are).

Famous novelist/writer Marie Cardinal paid for her psychoanalysis by writing marketing copy for an advertising agency.

Copy editing English language work for companies, publishers, ministries, university profs publishing in English, etc can also earn you money, and is another advantage of being an intelligent native speaker with longterm experience in a foreign country.

Of course, all writers know they must find/keep their day job.

Are there daycare, teacher's assistant jobs you could do that would make use of all that mommy experience, and bicultural knowledge, until you can get something different? Teaching/tutoring on pediatric wards ie hired by the hospital? Anything at the Y?

Hope these help
Sorry to be long. Good luck!

Suroor said...

You summed it well. It all does boil down to the fact that you are American. If you were Bahraini you would have been flooded with offers.