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Looking for Work and Finding the Potholes

by Diane Girard


The road to finding work has developed a few more potholes now that I'm a woman of a certain age. There is so much to consider. Should I change my old-model resume? Should I change my unvarnished image? Where should I not look?

My first step in the quest was to consider remodeling my resume. It was rather like an old car, it had at least 100,000 miles on it but it ran smoothly, or so I thought. After looking under the hood, my resume mechanic told me some parts were so old they might fall off.

"Replace the old stuff" she said.

"Oh, but those jobs show how versatile and talented I am," said I.

"Too bad, don't use anything more than ten years old" she said.

My pride was dented, but I went home to tinker. I replaced some warn-out parts with new ones only to discover that the resume engine was now stuttering and stalling-out midway through the first page. Back to the computer with it. This time, I stripped all the parts from the chassis, leaving only the shorter timeline and rebuilt it, using mostly new language parts. It still did not run smoothly. I would have to scrap the old chassis and get a new one. I did. I took the new resume out for a spin and it performed quite well.

I was not taking it on a high-speed chase; I'd only applied for a telemarketing job. The resume took me as far as the interview door. It did what it was designed to do. Now, it was up to the very young guy sitting behind a big desk.

Did I say he was very young? He looked at me and his eyes went down to view my resume. Then, he looked at me again with narrowed eyes and gave me a very short interview. I went home thinking it was time to replace my chassis, not just my resume chassis.

Could I fix some of my warn parts? Would a new hairstyle help? My hair is not grey yet, but I wondered if I should add blonde highlights. I didn't because I feared it would seem as if I was trying too hard to look younger. I settled for a short, slightly curly style, only to discover it made me look like every other woman over forty-five.

Well, at least I would fit in.

I thought I should also consider whether to decorate my face. Usually, I go about in the world barefaced. I began to observe the older working women-about-town. It became obvious that I would have to buy lipstick, lip-liner, blusher, mascara, foundation, eye shadow and an eyebrow pencil just for starters. Fortunately, a very kind cosmetics sales person helped me buy the bare minimum for just under $140.00. She strongly recommended several other products including some type of wrinkle filler and a fixative. I had to explain that I only want to enhance my look, not shellac myself.

The next consideration was my wardrobe. It's hard to dignify the clothes in my closet with the designation wardrobe. I worked in front-line social services where my clothes only needed to be passable and I did not need to be suited. I do own one suit, which I purchased in the fall, and it's green. Since I've been forced to read those What to Wear articles, I realise I did not buy one of the power suit colours. Woe is me! The other clothes I own are anonymous, practical and probably outdated. I have one all-purpose outfit that might work — a thigh-length black jacket, tailored black slacks and a long cream top. This ensemble disguises the fact that my waist is missing in action. It's the kind of outfit that sales women tell you is flattering, when what they mean is, it's probably the best you can do considering your shape. I have considered my shape and I'll live with it.

I feel ready to apply for more positions, but there are some I'll avoid. Have you seen the ads that ask for "high-energy" people? The translation is "we are looking for people under thirty years old." Then there are the ads that say "perfect for retired or disabled people." I'm not retired or disabled yet, and I suspect they pay an unmentionably low amount per hour. There are also "work from home - make thousands of dollars" ads but I don't want to stuff envelopes quite yet.

I'm as ready as I can be to apply for the job I saw advertised this morning.

Diane Girard is 59 years old and lives in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada near her family of a daughter and two grandsons. Diane began writing poetry and fiction in grade school and has continued to scribble for her own pleasure while earning a living in different ways. She has had several careers and is currently not considering becoming a consultant.
©2003 Diane Girard for SeniorWomenWeb
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