Still Jobless? 6 Tips to Get You Back on Your Feet

Finding work in today's economy is hard for everyone—but it's even more difficult if you're an older worker

by Lesley Kennedy • Reporter
Dr Lois Frankel
Dr. Lois Frankel says constant networking is key to any job search.
Photograph: Courtesy Dr. Lois Frankel

Be an entrepreneur. “More women are leaving corporate America to start their own businesses, because they realize they’re going to have more flexibility and more opportunity,” Frankel says. “If women want to have a family and they want to have a career, and they want to have it all, then they have to have more control over their lives, and you’re not going to have that control if you work for somebody else, and especially if you work for a big corporation.”

Where do you begin? Start doing informational interviews, attend entrepreneurial franchise expos where you can see what type of businesses are out there, join professional groups, such as the National Association of Women Business Owners, and be prepared psychologically, financially and industry-wise. 

“Talk to other entrepreneurs -- that is your best source of information,” she says. “What did they do right, what did they do wrong?”

Prime the pump before it’s dry. “When you need a job, it’s too late to do the things that will give you a quick start back into the labor force,” Frankel says. “You should constantly be building and maintaining professional relationships. You are most likely to find a job through a relationship than anything else.” 

And if you’re intimidated by today’s professional networking sites? Get a tutor, she advises. “There are certainly consultants who can help you with the social networking, but what I would do is find someone who is younger who does it well—it could be a family member, or the child of a friend—and I’d ask them to teach me how to do it and offer to barter with them or pay them a reasonable amount of money in exchange.”

Forget about those “transferrable” skills from Mommyhood. “Employers see through them,” Frankel says. “Instead, keep up on technology and developments in your field through reading and taking workshops or classes. Then, when you interview, make it clear you spent your time preparing for your next job. …Not only does it increase your confidence and help your resume, but it also tells the hiring source this isn’t a person who was just hanging around feeling sorry for herself [while she was out of work]. She was doing everything she could to improve herself.”

Resist the urge to talk about your family—even when prompted. “One sentence about your love of family is enough,” Frankel says. “Your next employer wants to know you keep work and family in perspective. Turn it around by saying something like, 'I do have a wonderful family but I want to talk about how I can meet your needs.'”

Take a good look in the mirror. “Sometimes when we’re home for too long we don’t realize we’ve gained too much weight, let our hair go or need to apply makeup differently,” Frankel says. “If needed, go to a high end department store for a makeover. You can’t just sound like you’re at the top of your game, you also have to look like you’re at the top of your game. Over 50 percent of your credibility comes from how you look, over 40 percent from how you sound and only 7 percent from what you say. Now you have to look the part. You’re an actor on a corporate stage. You’ve got to know the lines and wear the costume.”

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