The prospect of a divorce can be particularly stressful for the spouse
who has been out of the workplace for some time. While it may have made
sense for one of the spouses to stay home during the marriage, once the
parties begin to live separately it may simply be unrealistic for the
stay–at–home spouse not to return to work after a divorce.
If you are facing the seemingly overwhelming process of finding a job after
divorce, don’t lose heart. It’s difficult but far from impossible.
Here are five tips to get you started on the road to re–employment
after a divorce:
1. Secure financial support from your spouse.
If you have been the stay-at-home spouse for most of your marriage, and
if your spouse is gainfully employed, you may be eligible for an award
of spousal support (also referred to as alimony or maintenance). Spousal
support can help you meet your basic financial needs while you seek employment
or undergo retraining. In some cases, the family court may order your
spouse to pay for all or part of any retraining program that you need
to rejoin the workforce.At the beginning of your divorce, you should most
certainly discuss your financial needs and career prospects with an experienced
family law attorney who can advise you on your best options and strategies
for obtaining spousal support.
2. Identify your interests and explore your options.
Before you re-enter the workplace, you should determine what type of job
you’re interested in securing. Maybe you’d love to return
to the career you had before – that’s great! You probably
already have many of the basic skills and knowledge required to do that.But,
you also have a unique opportunity to explore new career paths. Do you
have a friend whose job has always appealed to you? Ask to shadow her
for a day.
There are also numerous websites such as WorkSource (Washington state)
or One-Stops around the country aimed at job seekers that provide free
information about different types of professions and careers.
Finally, consider meeting with a career counselor who can help you identify
your skill set and provide you with suggestions for suitable careers.
A skill set is not necessarily the same as your previous job experiences
or duties. A career counselor can also help you determine what kind of
training you need in order to start on the road to independence.
3. Consider retraining.
Whether you want to return to your old career or start from scratch, retraining
can be invaluable to your job search. Depending on your goals, your retraining
may be as simple as a few computer classes to familiarize yourself with
the software programs and technologies most companies currently use. If
you have been out of the workplace for a very long time, or have a limited
work history, you might consider a more comprehensive course of study.
Many community colleges offer worker retraining programs that are specifically
designed for displaced workers and the long term unemployed. You may even
consider pursuing a four year degree if you do not already have one.
4. Update your resume.
Just because you’ve been out of the workforce for a few years doesn’t
mean you haven’t developed marketable skills. Update your resume
and highlight any and all recent volunteer work. Anything from your experiences
as a coach for your child’s sports team to volunteer work for a
local community service organization shows a potential employer that you
have the experience and skills they want in an employee – especially
if you were in a leadership position.
Make sure your resume is professional and polished. Have a friend or two
proofread it to ensure that it’s free of typos or other errors that
can make it easy for a potential employer to disregard your application.
This is another area in which a career counselor can be a great resource.
Spread the word to friends, family, former co-workers and employers that
you’re in the market for a job. Websites such as LinkedIn and Facebook
can help you connect with former colleagues and employers with a few simple
searches and a click of the mouse. If you’re a college graduate,
get involved with your local alumni association and attend events where
you may meet alums who work in your areas of interest.The more people
who know you’re looking for work, the more leads you’re likely
to get. And having a connection within an organization can give you an
advantage over other candidates.