It is a popular notion that people who graduate from college end up returning home right after they graduate because they cannot find a job. But it may be possible that another member of the graduate’s family is having an even harder time finding a job, such as their mother. A phenomenon, often unspoken about, that is occuring is that women aged 40 and over are having a hard time finding a job. Whether they are changing jobs, or just getting back into the workforce after caring for their family, it seems to be a challenge getting their foot back in the door.
This issue has become prevalent since the Great Recession in 2008. The Bureau of Labor Statistics published stats showing that in the months following the recession, unemployment, overall, skyrocketed from 5.0% to 10.0%, and the recession caused high rates of long term unemployment. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis stated that the high rate of long term unemployment was mostly found in age groups 40 and over, and affected specifically, older aged women.
Why can't women over 40 find jobs?
In a PBS interview with Teresa Ghilarducci, an economist and author, she answers the question of why women are affected differently than men,
“Well, a lot of what women do in their lives is punctuated by time outside of the labor market — taking care of family, taking care of children — and women’s labor has always been devalued. So if you have an older woman coming to you and applying for a job, you’re going to think about what kind of experiences she had... rightly or wrongly, but probably unfairly, you’re going to assume that she had some time out of the labor market and that she was doing something that was basically worthless, because she wasn’t being paid for it.”
One of the biggest reasons why women over 40 cannot find jobs is because many of them took time off from their careers in order to raise a family. When children are grown up and off to college, a mother, typically aged 40 or over, might want to go back to work and get back into the job market. But they are finding it difficult. This is because they have a 10-20 year gap in their employment history where many things have now changed or even become obsolete. Things that were trends 10-15 years ago, may not even be heard of today. The way we do business now for example online, through apps, etc. has changed many industries, and technology has changed extensively.
Some women over 40 describe their experiences in trying to find employment as hopeless. That they are feeling “patronized” by interviewers that are younger than them, and feeling like they aren't being taken seriously as a job candidate. They feel that they can not get a career and are stuck with only getting a minimum wage job.
What can you do?
Do you find yourself in this same situation? Have you graduated with a degree in a chosen field, worked 5+ years in your field, made the decision to put your career on hold to start and raise your family? Now 10+ years later, you are ready to re-enter the workforce. There are important questions that need to be asked:
Do you still have the interest and passion for that career?
Do you still have the skill set required?
Has the industry drastically changed since you were in it?
How is the job market within that field?
Do you have any current experience and education necessary?
Here are 5 suggestions on how to get your foot back in to the same career door or begin something new.
Networking is one of the best ways to get a job. 80% of jobs available are not event posted online but are filled by networking and knowing someone who is right for the job and reaching out to them. Networking can allow you to connect with people that may be able to help you get a job one day in the future.
Networking can be achieved through going to networking events. Many organizations and associations hold their own networking events. That way members of the organization who are all in the same field can network and connect with each other to try to gain more opportunities within their field.
A popular way to network is by using LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows you to connect with people online and see their achievements and experiences on their profile. LinkedIn also has many groups that you can join that may lead to opportunities. LinkedIn can also put your name out there and get recruiters to look at you.
2. College Opportunities
Getting a new degree would open up a world of new employment options. Many jobs require some type of degree to be able to even meet the minimum qualifications. If you want a complete change of pace in your life, go back to college to earn a second degree.
If you are struggling on finding financial support to enroll to get a second degree, there are financial aid options available for those who need it.
If you already have a college degree, many colleges have a Career Services office that helps their students find jobs and internships either prior to or after graduation. Colleges have programs and benefits for their alumni. Utilize these services to your benefit and make an appointment with their office.
If you feel that your skills need a refresher, there are options available for people to take college courses without having to commit to another degree. There are also shorter sequenced courses that could earn you a certification.
Internships are the first step in gaining experience in a new field. There are many internship opportunities available. Some are paid, some are not, but it is a good start into the workforce. Many times, internships lead to jobs within the company you are interning for. If not, you will still gain relevant experience and be more qualified for the next job you apply for.
Internships are very beneficial especially with an internship mentor. Having a mentor can increase your knowledge about the job and be able to answer any questions you may have.
Internships can be competitive, so if you want to start smaller, volunteer for your local community. Volunteer work is a great resume builder and gives you experience. There are infinite volunteer opportunities available for members of the community.
There are programs created and dedicated to helping women in the same position. Women who took off from the workforce and are now re-entering after their kids have grown up. These programs are meant to create a network of people in the same situation, provide education and training to refresh your skill set, and provide job opportunities.
One program, titled Apres, is dedicated to helping women re-enter the workforce by offering education, opportunities, articles, and career coaches to help women get back into the workforce.
If you are struggling with any of these, contact a career consultant. A career consultant can assist you with assessing your skill level, updating your resume, show you new interviewing and networking techniques.
If you are looking for a career consultant try Sharp Human Resources. They have helped many women find their work passion again. They have helped them find a new path or rework the same path they were on. Feeling frustrated or confused call Sharp Human Resources and let them help you get back on track.