Today I did something I haven’t done in almost 10 years. I applied for a job. And for the first time in almost 10 years I’m not even sure I’ll be considered for the position.
I set out many years ago to achieve a career goal and I did just that. I also said that I would leave my job if I had a child because I wanted to be present for that child in a way that my parents were unable to be for me. And I did that too. Now, my child is growing and thriving and showing such resilience and independence and I think it’s time I found my way back to the workforce.
Throughout my life I’ve had many jobs and a couple of careers. I’m not afraid to keep moving forward. I’m excited by new challenges. Sure, I could take the easy path and stay in the same career. I could even progress up the ladder within that career. But does that feed my soul? Does that give me the positive energy I need within me to get up each day and do the things I have to do? Will that make me happy?
My first “grown-up” job was as a personnel consultant. I was 21 and straight out of uni with a Bachelor of Commerce under my belt. I knew all there was to know about Organisational Behaviour and Human Resource Management. Yeah, right. I knew enough about enough to do ok in my assignments and exams. I was 21 – what did I know about anything?
Within 6 weeks of starting I knew I was in the wrong job. I had witnessed the most depressing side of employment and unemployment. I was working with long term unemployed people and those at risk of becoming so. My task was to diagnose why they couldn’t find work and then fix it…all within 13 weeks of meeting them. Some of my clients had never worked. Some were illiterate. Some had alcohol and drug addictions. Some had what I recognise now as mental health disorders, probably undiagnosed and certainly untreated. Some took their own lives. Others wanted to.
Then there were the women who had left work because they married. They became mothers and stayed home to look after the children. Then the children grew up. Their husbands were laid off or had died. They were left with no money and no purpose. Many had no skills they could offer the workforce. More than a few had not completed high school. They were mostly in their 40s and hadn’t worked since their 20s. The work they had done was usually retail. They’d been “shop girls”. Employers in the late 1990s weren’t looking for 45yr old shop assistants.
I know all too well the dangers of long gaps on a resume. I recall the faces of those women. By the time they came to me, they’d been trying to find work for at least a year or more. That haunting look of desperation and hopelessness. Mostly replaced by fear at the mention of re-training. Occasionally replaced with joy when I was successful in finding them an open door.
I’m dipping my toe into the water and I’m hoping to catch a fish I’ve never seen before. A new career. I’ll have to start at the bottom but I’m not afraid of working hard to prove myself. I’m hopeful that my skills will carry me through. One thing is for sure – I’m not going to let 20 years go past without trying something new.