52 and Used Up?

Welcome to the "On Balance" guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Karen Bernstein

At 52, I am too young to be used up. But it appears that employers see it differently. I have been searching for fulfilling full-time employment for more than two years. It doesn't seem to matter that I have a college degree, a post-graduate paralegal certificate and a strong professional employment history. Apparently, the black mark on my resume is that my professional experience came to a halt twenty years ago. It was not intended to be that way; life got in the way.

I was going to stay home for 10 years until my two kids were settled in school. Ten became 20 when both my children developed spondyloarthropathy, a form of arthritis that affects the connective tissue of the body and potentially the eyes and heart. For the first 10 years, we were lucky and my husband could provide for us. Money was tight at times, but that's what parents do. Between doctor's appointments and the days they needed help just getting around, the years moved along.

Now that my children are older, I want to work and have time to work. For too many years, my husband has supported our family without complaint. I want to ease that responsibility. I want the satisfaction that comes from contributing financially to our family.

What I have discovered is that employers find all kinds of ways to let you know that you are obsolete. They discount the work you have done throughout your life. Evidently, the 10 years I worked as my husband's solo back office staff, handling everything from the purchase of supplies to managing vendor issues, means nothing to hiring managers. The time committed to community service, chairing the high school graduation gala, supervising 150 volunteers, 18 committees, and handling a budget of $60,000 doesn't count. The only interviews I get are for jobs that pay less than $30,000 a year and offer no benefits.

When I actually do get an interview, the interviewer across the table does not see my credentials. She or he sees my wrinkles and a twenty year gap. But the truth is, there was never a real gap. There was a change of plans that required innovation and adaptation so I could be there for my children. It necessitated flexibility and management skills that I never knew I had. I became a multi-tasker to the nth degree.

So, despite advanced degrees, an excellent professional record, continual service to my community and multiple activities akin to business responsibilities, I am over and done with to many. I'm 52 years old. What jobs I've found and taken in the past two years are part-time work with no benefits. The work is unfulfilling and monetarily insignificant. So, tell me, what now? I am valuable, but how do I persuade potential employers of my potential contributions?

I have never believed you can have it all and have never asked for it all. All I want is the dignity of a job that pays a livable salary and provides benefits. I am strong and tenacious and hope that somehow that translates into a job that reflects what I can do rather than the professional workplace's judgment (one might say condemnation) of how I've spent the last 20 years of my life.


Karen Bernstein lives in Ramsey, N.J., with her family. She has a BA and Paralegal Certificate from George Washington University. She has given motivational speeches, written a monthly column for an arthritis Web site, and has written an unpublished book on juvenile arthritis. She hopes to find employment that allows her to pursue writing.

Bernstein sent this entry to me in response to my research, published in More Magazine and Newsweek last spring, about stay-at-home moms' successful return to work. I received many e-mails from women like Karen whose job searches were complicated by age bias on top of prejudice about their decisions to stay home to care for their children.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  July 17, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
Previous: Hi Boss! I'm Pregnant - Again! | Next: Dr. Mom


Add On Balance to Your Site
Keep up with the latest installments of On Balance with an easy-to-use widget. It's simple to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry to On Balance.
Get This Widget >>


Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



Primeira!

Posted by: catlady | July 17, 2007 7:10 AM

dos!

Posted by: 2xmai | July 17, 2007 7:21 AM

dos!

Posted by: 2xmami | July 17, 2007 7:21 AM

"I am valuable, but how do I persuade potential employers of my potential contributions?"

Good question. It seems that you aren't valuable to the places where you have been applying. You now have to find the right employer. A place where you are valuable.

Posted by: Third? | July 17, 2007 7:33 AM

I understand how expensive the cost of living is in the Ramsey, Bergen County area. Can you take a job to get your foot in the door, then mentally tell yourself to be prepared to move on to the next opportunity?

It is difficult to get the perfect job the first time, but there could be a connection through co-worker or customer leading to something better.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 7:34 AM

Thank you, Karen, for having the courage to write this.

No, you shouldn't be "used up" at this age--and can still contribute.

I don't know what the answer is--but until people are willing to bring the situation into public consciousness, nothing will change.

I wish you all the best. I could easily be you in 12 years.

Posted by: Caroline | July 17, 2007 7:35 AM

Are you able to show these potential employers that you're current on computer skills and admin? We have hired a person who was staying at home for years and her computer skills and admin skills (word processing, efficient work) are incredibly rusty, we have to overcome that hurdle before she can be of real use to us. If she had not had a connection to our company we probably would have passed her by because of this fact.

Posted by: Burke Mom | July 17, 2007 7:36 AM

Maybe your resume needs a revamp? Maybe you need to go thru a job placement agency? Maybe you need to start out at an "re-entry" level position and work yourself back to a higher income bracket?

Posted by: M.M. | July 17, 2007 7:47 AM

I feel for you because I know you are fighting against a ton of preconceived notions of how people in their 50's should be. Are they old or young? No one seems to agree. There are 2 people in my family that are both 55. One has yet to retire, has no plans to and is very healthy and has a youthful spirit. The other was counting the days to retirement, insists she's an old lady and she shouldn't work and needs tons of help because "she's an old lady". You are probably up against people your own age who think you are too old to start working again now. I think once you hit your 50's you reach a decision point--do you see yourself as useful with many years left to live or are you just going to sit down and wait for those years to pass you by. When you believe you're old, you will act that way and everyone will believe it. You sound like someone with a great work ethic and tremendous initiative. Someone will definitely see that soon.

Posted by: dogma | July 17, 2007 7:47 AM

For one, I don't consider an paralegal certificate to be an 'advanced degree', and neither will anyone who interviews you (I seriously hope you're not touting it as such). Secondly, for someone with a BA, $30K sounds about right, especially for someone out of the workforce for so long.

I think part of the problem is you're asking for more than you're worth. I don't mean that personally -- I mean that "nowadays," a Masters is the new BA. If you're having a hard time finding work you enjoy or not getting the salary offers you feel you should be getting, you might want to reassess what you're bringing to the table versus what the other applicants have.

Posted by: Nitpicking | July 17, 2007 7:56 AM

I, in part, understand what Karen is going through. Being that I am over 50 companies are somewhat willing to hire me as contract staff but would never think of me as a permanent hire. It matters not that I have been at this job for 5 years, am told that I am a valuable part of the team and have received 2 raises in the last 12 months.

I did have a break in employment after 23 years with a company and no company was interested in me coming from the "unemployed" ranks. I went part-time at a disgusting job just to have work to do. This apparently was the key to making me more attractive to potential employers as I was doing some kind of work. Now life is good but I am aware it could vanish overnight and have made appropriate financial decisions to soften the impact when the axe falls.

Posted by: Fred | July 17, 2007 7:57 AM

Ksren, the only answer to your problem is persistence. I was in a similar situation and it took me two years to find a job in the field I am trained for. Ignore the people who say you may not have good computer skills. They are people who have jobs and think that a person who has trouble finding one has large and obvious faults.

Posted by: andrea | July 17, 2007 7:59 AM

Karen, Those of us who write professionally have likely had different experiences from one another, so I hope that some of the other writers who post to this group will also share their experiences, in order to provide you a wider view of the life.

Most writers I know have a specialty (or maybe a couple of areas) to which they dedicate their work. You don't mention whether your employment search has been in a specific field of expertise, or whether you're just generally looking for a writing position. In the latter case, you may be competing against candidates who have experience, probably recent experience, writing in that field -- which puts you at a disadvantage not directly connected to your age. Clearly one of your fields of knowledge is arthritis, so I wonder whether you might have better success limiting your job search to at least the health sciences (if not specifically to the field of arthritis).

Everyone can sympathize with your desire to find a position with good pay and benefits that rewards your abilities to the fullest. But as the poster at 7:34 AM noted, you might not find your perfect job on the first try: the pay might be too low, the benefits too few, the subject matter not interesting to you, the work conditions less than desirable. But if your husband is still able to provide for you both monetarily and in terms of benefits like health insurance, it might be worthwhile in the long run for you to accept a less-desirable first job if it has the potential to "get your foot in the door" professionally, including helping you network with more writers and employers. I realize your probably find this disappointing advice, but it may be the realistic way for you to proceed right now.

Do your higher education accomplishments predate parenthood? If so, you might consider returning to a local college or university either to take a few courses to brush up your skills and update your knowledge, or to discover a new field of interest (I parlayed the latter approach successfully, although YMMV). Although this requires an initial investment of time and money, the return is potentially substantial.

One of the great advantages of a writing career is that, once established, it need not end at the traditional retirement age, but instead flourish for as long as you're able! So, best of luck to you in your pursuit of fulfilling work.

Posted by: catlady | July 17, 2007 8:00 AM

It could be her location -- Ramsey NJ may not be happening econimically. My guess is that the DC employment scene would be different. I think location counts for a lot more then people realize.

Posted by: DB | July 17, 2007 8:01 AM

Karen, you obviously are not valuable for the type of jobs you apply to. Maybe 20 years ago $60000 was big money to manage, but now even people who earn less than $30000 a year (at whom you sneer) are managing much more serious amounts (think CVS floor managers),
"I am over and done with to many" -- it's "too many", and I don't care if it's a typo. For a paralegal/writing/office person you should be capable of catching the typos.

I would recommend going into another family business with low overhead, like you supposedly did with your husband. No benefits, but good savings plan (Keogh). Should have bought low-cost medical insurance for small business long ago, it's hard to get in your advanced age.

I'm afraid your attitude shows. Nobody would put you in charge of recent college graduates and pay you more then they are getting.

Posted by: Hiring manager | July 17, 2007 8:07 AM

Ramsey is a bedroom suburb of NYC, with access both by rail, and the George Washington Bridge. Hard to think of a larger, more diverse job market in the US.

Posted by: Geography | July 17, 2007 8:09 AM

"The time committed to community service, chairing the high school graduation gala"

You must be joking!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 8:11 AM

Hard to think of a larger, more diverse job market in the US.

Posted by: Geography | July 17, 2007 08:09 AM

Maybe it's so big that it's overwhelming?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 8:11 AM

Taking care of children with health issues is incredibly taxing and time consuming and certainly has to make balancing much more difficult. Both of my kids arrived early and the first year for each is such a blur of waiting rooms, insurance issues, waiting on hold for doctors, appointments and worry. Truly working full time seemed impossible (how many times can you take off for doctors appointments?) and so I worked part-time at a job that were not ideal but worked for my situation. Now I have part-time work I like, two healthy kids and most, but not all of the insurance issues resolved.

My advice go temp you have to start somewhere. Get in the door anywhere if you like the place and it is a good fit you will have much more of a chance of getting the positions you consider fulfilling. Good luck.

Posted by: Raising One Of Each | July 17, 2007 8:11 AM

Dear hiring manager,

Please do not correct people's writing. It is, in fact, "I am over and done with to many" - as in "to many people, I am over and done with."

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 8:12 AM

It's not, "like you supposedly did," it's "as you supposedly did." Helps explain your low expectations in worklife.

Posted by: To hiring manager | July 17, 2007 8:16 AM

You are probably right, but if the writing style of her cover letter and resume is too convoluted, she is not getting the interview. You, on the other hand...

I'm da boss!

Posted by: Hiring manager to 8:12 AM | July 17, 2007 8:17 AM

"Dear hiring manager,

Please do not correct people's writing. It is, in fact, "I am over and done with to many" - as in "to many people, I am over and done with."
"

No, correct people's writing ONLY when it's wrong. When it's correct, leave it alone. :)

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 8:17 AM

You should have gone to law school...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 8:18 AM

You have a twenty year employment gap! Some people may think 52 is "too old" but really, the last time you worked in an office environment (besides for your husband) was 1987--before Microsoft and the Internet. You said you have jobs/job offers of "only" 30K a year--with a BA and such a huge gap of paid employment, that sounds pretty good! I graduated with my MA a few years ago and earned 35K, with no experience gap. Take the job at 30K that most interests you, get some experience, go back to school, and THEN expect more. Think of yourself as someone just out of college--that is how employers are looking at you.

Posted by: Age isn't the issue | July 17, 2007 8:20 AM

I would suggest you hire a career coach to go over your resume, help you with interviewing techniques, and generally assist you with presenting yourself in the best light. A skills-based resume can help people understand the value in the volunteer jobs you've held. In addition, though I hate to suggest it, I tend to agree that you need to work on your attitude a bit. It's hard when everyone is saying "no," but you need to look upbeat. As for those wrinkles, they're fine, but please don't emphasize them! A little high quality makeup never hurts; it reinforces the positive attitude.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | July 17, 2007 8:21 AM

hiring manager-- "to" IS the correct word-- it's not even a typo, you freak!

Karen, perhaps you could consider going into business your self? You seem very capable and if others aren't seeing that, thenjust hire yourself! PErhaps as a free-lance writer?

Good luck!

Posted by: Jen S. | July 17, 2007 8:26 AM

Karen, I know personally of 2 women in your shoes and what worked for them was temping. In both situations, it led to a solid, well- and benefits-paying job. Good luck!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 8:28 AM

Hiring manager, I bet you only hire young people because no one with any experince would put up with you.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 8:30 AM

Hiring manager objected to the sentence, "I am over and done with to many." The word "to" is used correctly.

At the end of the comment hiring manager said, "Nobody would put you in charge of recent college graduates and pay you more then (sic) they are getting. The correct word is "than."

Good luck, Karen. Be careful to take advice from knowledgeable people.

Posted by: Minnesota | July 17, 2007 8:34 AM

Karen really should contact the Post's Martha Hamilton who writes about employment and ageism etc in the Sunday Business section. Recently Ms Hamilton wrote about how some of her former Post colleagues who had taken early retirement got "fabulous" new jobs, were "Fending off job offers." None of them are in business for themselves, that takes enormous energy and capital and is often not viable for anyone out of the workforce for long. These are people in their 50s and 60s. Perhaps she would have some ideas, or write about the situation for others like Karen, which is probably very common.

Posted by: July 17 | July 17, 2007 8:39 AM

"Hiring manager, I bet you only hire young people because no one with any experince would put up with you."

But people with EXPERIENCE will!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 8:39 AM

But people with EXPERIENCE will!

No, they won't.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 8:42 AM

Karen, if you're interested in paralegal work, what about law school? If you go to a state school, it's much less expensive than a private law school, and graduating from law school would immediately level the playing field for you. You'd go in as a first-year associate, but with first year associates in most markets making more than $100,000, such a position could have an immediate impact on your economic situation.

Posted by: Law School | July 17, 2007 8:43 AM

I agree that temp agencies would be a good idea for Karen, and that $30 thousand is probably a realistic wage because of the gap in employment and the competition. And I think the comment focusing on writing about medical issues, esp arthritis is also an excellent idea. She probably has the potential to soar above people like "hiring manager" who just wants an excuse to insult someone, under the guise of giving advice.

Posted by: florida | July 17, 2007 8:50 AM

I don't know what types of jobs you have looked into, but here are some thoughts of mine.

1. Non-profit fundraiser- you've done a lot of community service and managed a budget. Taking care of 2 children with health issues may help with raising money for a company like the March or Dimes which I know has an office in White Plains, NY. That should be within commuting distance for you.

2. Be self employed as something like a Mary Kay or Avon Representative.

3. Event Coordinator- the work you did in the community and with your children's schools may help in this area.

These are just some thoughts. Good luck!

Posted by: KBJ | July 17, 2007 8:52 AM

Does anyone else think her situation has more to do with being out of the work force for 20 years as opposed to ageism? I am just wondering because if she is trying to find a job as a medical writer or a technical writer, she is going to have to go take some classes.

Technical witting is very different from regular writing and requires either hands on training or skills taught in a class. I am not trying to be mean, I am just trying to point out that there may be another reason besides her age. I am 32 and would hire a young person right out of college with a degree in technical writing as opposed to someone with a 20 year gap. If I was presented with a young person right out of college and a 52 year old with 20 years experience, I would probably hire the 52 year old depending on what the job position entailed.

I am sorry to here about your children, I can't imagine how hard it was to take care of two children with arthritis.

Posted by: scarry | July 17, 2007 8:53 AM

I do hiring for a law firm, and in all honesty, Karen, I would look at your resume and discard. A twenty-year gap is too big for someone to re-enter the paralegal world. The practice of law has changed dramatically in the last two decades. My advice to you: take one of the offers. $30K is great for an entry level position, and let's face it, that's where you are right now. If you can, morph that job into one you want at the salary you require. Are there any junior paralegal jobs available? You could take that, and then grow into a more senior paralegal. Good luck to you.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 17, 2007 8:53 AM

What about a real estate agent?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 8:56 AM

My mom is going through the same thing. She's actually 60, but desparately looking for work. She has a Ph.D. in a social sciences field but hasn't been able to find work for over a year. Even contract and temp positions. She has looked all over the country--she is willing to move. The only gaps in her resume are due to unemployment.

I firmly believe that ageism is to blame. My advice to her is kind of worthless because we have totally different problems finding work.

What's the solution?

Posted by: Meesh | July 17, 2007 8:56 AM

Karen, it might be worthwhile to go back to school long enough to update your paralegal certificate, if that's the type of work you want to do. So many things have changed for paralegals in the last twenty years - using online research sources (like Westlaw and Lexis), word processing on computers, electronically filing documents, etc. - that it might make you more marketable for you to make clear that you know how to do that stuff. It does take training, so the employers will most likely want to know that you can do it coming in the door.

Posted by: Kate | July 17, 2007 8:57 AM

This is what happens when you are out of the workforce for 20 years.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 9:11 AM

"This is what happens when you are out of the workforce for 20 years."

Yeah, that sure was stupid and lazy of her to stay at home and care for her chronically ill children. What kind of a mother would do that?

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 17, 2007 9:13 AM

It wasn't a judgement, just a fact.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 9:16 AM

This is what happens when you are out of the workforce for 20 years.

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 09:11 AM

Not always.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 9:18 AM

"Secondly, for someone with a BA, $30K sounds about right, especially for someone out of the workforce for so long."

30K sounds like it might be a starting point for someone out of the workplace for 20 years (I'm with those who say you have to start somewhere) but I have a hard time accepting it as reasonable with a BA. I've got only a BA and have been making over 6 figures for about 5 years. I've made more than 30K a year since about 1994.

That said, it's my experience, not my school, that commands the salary. 20 years out of the workplace? Better leverage the stuff you can do that no one else can. There's lots of office managers out there with more recent experience. And most entry-level writing jobs pay badly.

Posted by: resist inflation! | July 17, 2007 9:18 AM

I am very sympathetic to Karen's situation and I understand why she was out of the workforce for so long, although I can't imagine how very stressful life must have been with two sick children.

My 2 cents:I've been an associate at a big DC law firm (never a partner or hiring person, so take with a grain of salt) and I would be surprised if they hired someone who was coming out of law school at age 56 as an associate with a 20 year employment gap. The competition can be brutal and most large firms hire associates who are willing and able to work 80 hour weeks for 8-10 years for the opportunity to have the opportunity to make jr partner and a few more to make share. Corp people-same thing? It's not as easy as walking in the door with a law degree. I'd say consider local government positions-maybe administrative support to the school board or local disability agency. Maybe a paralegal at a disability advocacy org. That might combine your interests, experience and contacts. Good luck!

Posted by: Milano | July 17, 2007 9:20 AM

Karen,

what about taking a couple of word processing courses or doing it online and working as a secretary? Here in DC, we are desparate for secretaries (especially with any IP experience), but it you can type and are well organized, places would be willing to teach their specialty (like IP). And secretaries make quitre a bit more thatn $30K and provide beneifts. Now, that maky require you going into NY, but its worth a shot

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 9:21 AM

"I think part of the problem is you're asking for more than you're worth. I don't mean that personally -- I mean that "nowadays," a Masters is the new BA."

I totally agree with this. If this had been as much as uttered while I was in college, I don't think I would've found it so hard once I was out in the real world.

The truth is, having a Bachelor's doesn't go as far as it used to. Even for women. And in some fields, even more advanced degrees are not producing so much in regards to salary.

I finally learned and accepted that having the degree will not guarantee getting a job. It's work experience and determination. In one year, I went from one job to the next with an $8,000 salary increase. I don't think that's too shabby. And with the need to survive, I really can't be picky.

It's not a matter really of being offered less than you're worth. You are worth more, but in the ever-changing workforce, you have to prove it. Also, the types of credentials you have might not match what is needed for the jobs to which you are applying.

Sometimes taking a step back to reassess is the best thing you can do. You'll probably view it as making a compromise or sacrifice, but $30 k is better than 0, right?

Posted by: JRS | July 17, 2007 9:21 AM

I just posted at 9:21 and I am so sorry for all of the typos -- I will proof more carefully -- wow -- sorry again

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 9:23 AM

"This is what happens when you are out of the workforce for 20 years."

Yeah, that sure was stupid and lazy of her to stay at home and care for her chronically ill children. What kind of a mother would do that?

One who does not value her career, obviously.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 9:23 AM

I am really surprised by this. This woman was retired for 20 years and now wants to get back into the workforce. Certainly $30k per year is low, but I'm not yet 40 and have run three consulting businesses (plus an ebay sales company making 4 digits per year) and of course holding a full-time day job since 1993- that's why I'm not making $30k per year. I cannot believe someone retired so young and didn't, you know, write a book or start a small part-time company or 12 years ago when ebay.com started, why didn't they open up some kind of small resale company like I did? I mean, for years in the 1990s I would resell items I found at garage sales for twice the cost I paid. Did you just see everyone else start their own company and shrug?

I am pretty liberal, but I see the problem here is that the author is unwilling to start her own company and expects someone else to have already started a company for her to work in. This is the United States, my view of the American Dream is for people to have all the opportunities to get out there and make something of themselves. So start your own company and stop looking for someone else to do it for you.

The fact that you think planning the high school gala is worthy of mention is, well, cute in ways. A friend of mine is a full-time manager and in her spare time at night runs her elementary school PTA and planned a teacher appreciation dinner, spring carnival, holiday pageant, thanksgiving food donation thingy- on top of a regular job. Your expectations of yourself are so low that you think the gala is, like, you know... worthy of mention without realizing that there are some schools where all the parents who organize these things do so on top of regular jobs.

I mean at a recent picnic a stay at home mom told me she wanted to find a nice job at 6 hours a day. I reminded her that I work at least 90 minutes of overtime work at night 7 days a week- so I put in, lets say, 50 hours or more each week. She scoffed that she didn't want to work for that kind of a company. What other kind of corporation is out there that doesn't require at least 45 hours a week for mid-level managers and above?

My gut just tells me to stop relying on someone else to have a company you can work for, start your own.

Posted by: DCer | July 17, 2007 9:24 AM

One who does not value her career, obviously.

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 09:23 AM

I completely value my career. I went to college and law school and have worked very hard to build my career. But if my kids had those issues, I would have quit in a heartbeat to be there for them and do what needed to be done. After that situation was taken care of (they grew up and did not need day to day care), I would look for what to do now. I admire Karen very much for all that she sacrificed. That is truly amazing in my opinion. I really sympathize with what she is facing and hope that we can offer some concrete assistance!

Posted by: Marie | July 17, 2007 9:27 AM

I see the problem here is that the author is unwilling to start her own company and expects someone else to have already started a company for her to work in.

Must be hard to find employees for your own company. Not everyone can be a company of one.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 9:28 AM

"Your expectations of yourself are so low that you think the gala is, like, you know... worthy of mention without realizing that there are some schools where all the parents who organize these things do so on top of regular jobs."

Good summation!

Babysitters make pretty good money and you have experience with special needs kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 9:28 AM

Thanks for a great column. I have this fantasy about moving from part-time to "serious" full-time work in my fifties when my kids are in college. I'll read this as a cautionary tale.

I'm curious as to the remarks about physical appearance. You state that interviewers see wrinkles and that that affects their perception of your worth.
My friends and I have had this conversation -- about whether you should have a face lift or Botox in order to give Human Resource Managers a glowing impression of your youth and vigor. I undestand even some men do things like that before going on job interviews if they're older. What do the rest of you think about this? How importance is physical appearance and how far should people go to look younger to employers?

Posted by: Armchair Mom | July 17, 2007 9:28 AM

I firmly believe that ageism is to blame. My advice to her is kind of worthless because we have totally different problems finding work.

What's the solution?
-----

Form a consultancy. Sell your services as a consultant and not a full-time employee. That doesn't solve health insurance, but it will solve employment.

Posted by: DCer | July 17, 2007 9:28 AM

"Karen, if you're interested in paralegal work, what about law school? If you go to a state school, it's much less expensive than a private law school, and graduating from law school would immediately level the playing field for you. You'd go in as a first-year associate, but with first year associates in most markets making more than $100,000, such a position could have an immediate impact on your economic situation."

Oh my God, please don't tell her to go to law school. MISTAKE. I don't know where you live that first-years routinely start in $100,000 positions, but speaking as a veteran of law firm hiring, I can tell you that the only people who routinely waltz right into those positions are top-tier graduates - Ivy League grads or the equivalent. The law firms that pay those salaries are notoriously snobbish when it comes to hiring. People from state schools may or may not be able to get good jobs after graduation - it's a crap shoot. People who graduate at the very top of their state law school classes are in okay shape, but the rest of the class has to hustle. Add to that the ageism she would surely encounter as a brand-new associate in her mid-fifties, (because the big-money firms expect longgg hours - the thinking is, can a 55-year-old keep up with the 25-year-olds right out of law school?) and she's looking at several thousand dollars worth of debt, even from a state school, and possibly no job. So going to law school would NOT necessarily level the playing field. In fact, it might leave her worse off than before. Unless she can 1) get a full-ride scholarship to law school, *and* 2) guarantee that she will have good enough grades to make law review, I would strongly counsel against going to law school.

Again, I speak from experience. I'm reporting the attitudes I encountered at several law firms, although I don't condone them.

Posted by: to law school | July 17, 2007 9:31 AM

you know? I mean? thingy?

Are you kidding? Small wonder you have to be your own boss, because no one (except maybe "hiring manager" would offer a decent job to an inarticulate twit like you.

Posted by: To DCer | July 17, 2007 9:32 AM

Must be hard to find employees for your own company. Not everyone can be a company of one.
----

Right, but a paralegal CAN act as a consultant. A friend of mine is an IT expert with 20 years in the business. Before ageism hit his career (he stayed in tech too long before moving to management) he started acting as an IT consultant for lawyers defending computer-related cases. He bills $175 per hour for that work and did at least 5 cases that I know of. Google the word "consultant" or "Start your own consultancy" and see what the results are. This is an online world in 2007 and all barriers to entry have been removed- people in poor cities in India run their own consultancies online for $5 per hour- and they're super-successful. Are you saying we don't have the smarts to compete with that in our own country? I'm saying think outside the box to succeed.

Posted by: DCer | July 17, 2007 9:34 AM

When I was hiring, a lot depended on the energy level of the person interviewing. If the energy was high, we found a place for them. If it wasn't, we had difficulty justifying the hire.

As someone stated earlier, there are young 50-somethings and there are old 50-somethings. My parents, both in their seventies, go galavanting around the world and are both high energy. They still work full-time because they are able and both enjoy their work. My in-laws are old in their seventies and do not go anywhere outside of a 30 minute drive. Even that exhausts them.

How you are will come across in the interview very quickly. That goes for anyone looking for work.

Posted by: Working Dad | July 17, 2007 9:35 AM

I think he gave her good advice, everyone is not a writer and even some writer are casual on this blog.

So, get a life and give her some advice of your own.

Posted by: to to Dcer | July 17, 2007 9:35 AM

I don't know where you live that first-years routinely start in $100,000 positions, but speaking as a veteran of law firm hiring, I can tell you that the only people who routinely waltz right into those positions are top-tier graduates - Ivy League grads or the equivalent.

This is not true. The firm I work for hires primarily from tier two and even three schools and the starting salary for a first-year is $135K. And I live in Raleigh, NC.

That said, I would not recommend law school as a good career move for a 52-year old, unless you're willing to work until you're 75 to make it worth your while.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 17, 2007 9:35 AM

How importance is physical appearance and how far should people go to look younger to employers?

Posted by: Armchair Mom | July 17, 2007 09:28 AM

You're only going to keep looking older as time passes, so it'll take more and more effort to hold back the floodgates of aging. Illegality of age discrimination aside, I personally would want to know if a boss thinks such superficiality of appearance is important, because I wouldn't want to work for him or her.

Posted by: geezette | July 17, 2007 9:37 AM

It sounds like you're facing the same barriers that recent college grads face. You basically have to convince someone to take a chance on you. It maybe that you're sending off entitlement vibes because of your (unrealistic) expectations. Also, if you're still a caretaker for your children and you're letting potential employers know that, they may be worrying about absenteeism. Those are HUGE red flags for an employer.

I suggest adjusting your short term expectations for type of work and salary. Do one of the dull jobs that pays $30K with no benes for a year or two. Work your butt off, make contacts, try to get a promotion or a better job. I know it's frustrating at your age, but you really aren't going to become any more attractive to an employer until you get some recent experience.

You may want to contact your college's career and alumnni offices. GWU probably has a decent network. The can give guidance and help establish contacts.

Posted by: NotAMom | July 17, 2007 9:37 AM

I'm with some of the other posters - while I really feel for the author, and I'm positive she hasn't just been sitting around for the past 20 years -- a 20 year employment gap is HUGE, and any skills you acquired during those years from taking care of children or chairing galas just don't count in the workplace today. Her work experience 20 years ago was probably so vastly different from what she might encounter in the workplace today, that I wouldn't blame an employer from totally discounting it. Additionally, I do agree that she's overselling herself a bit - a paralegal certificate just isn't that big of a deal.

Although I agree that age discrimination is a big problem, in this particular situation, I really doubt that age has all that much to do with it. Employers probably look at her as someone with zero experience and a basic degree, so when they see that she might be a worthwhile candidate based on her drive and dedication, they offer her an entry-level position - for which $30k sounds about right. If she's as good as she says she is, she'll quickly get promotions and raises, but you can't expect to just leap back in without proving yourself. :(

Posted by: DCResident00 | July 17, 2007 9:37 AM

Please stop telling her that $30K is a good offer. This is what she said:

The only interviews I get are for jobs that pay less than $30,000 a year and offer no benefits.

LESS than 30K. No benefits. It is NOT a good offer. Please read more carefully.

Posted by: CDell | July 17, 2007 9:38 AM

because no one (except maybe "hiring manager" would offer a decent job to an inarticulate twit like you.
----

you honestly have no sense of humor do you? Ok, great, you saw my joke but it didn't penetrate your head that it was a joke. Dude, lighten up. sheesh. Keep reminding yourself... these are comments... in a blog...

Posted by: DCer | July 17, 2007 9:38 AM

I could be wrong, but issn't she saying that she was only out for 10 years? It sounds to me like she spent the last ten years working the back office in her husband's firm. I think that the problem might be how she terms it. It doesn't matter that the back office was her husband's or the guy/gal's down the street - list it as a viable work entry and let the explaining happen when and if it needs to in the interview. And list each major volunteer opportunity as a job as well. If it took your time, and considerable amounts of it, and required skills and management, then it counts as a career event.

Posted by: wondering | July 17, 2007 9:40 AM

He bills $175 per hour for that work and did at least 5 cases that I know of... people in poor cities in India run their own consultancies online for $5 per hour- and they're super-successful.

You've just contradicted your own advice.

Posted by: To DCer | July 17, 2007 9:41 AM

Your advice surprised me. I've never been to law school or been an associate, but from reading this blog, it seems that the lawyers have incredibly long workweeks. even though the eventual salaries may be high, I think that many people in their 50's would think more than twice about taking on the expense of law school. As a 50-year-old, I don't have the inclination to work 60-80 hour weeks. I do not have one foot in the grave and am capable of lots of hard work, but at my age, I really am not interested in the very high level of work activity that lawyers seem to do in the early stages of their careers. Without that, can you really make the big bucks?

I have worked since age 18, so I am looking forward to retirement, not starting a new career. Someone who has been out of the work force may be eager to push themselves as hard as law students and associates.

My recommendation would be to take any job that you won't hate so that you can at least get a recommendation from a current employer for your next position.

I have been working for 32 years in various positions. Some I have liked a lot and some have been awful, but there has been nothing that I actually 'loved'. You can find something that you don't love completely and still feel good about the job and yourself.

Posted by: to Law School | July 17, 2007 9:42 AM

Well, if Karen's problem is not the 20 year gap in her work history, it must be ageism. Some companies will employ older workers and give them advancement opportunities, but many employers have attitudes like those of the hiring manager who posted above. How can we combat this? Does consistant publicity about age discrimination help or hurt the situation? Is it worse for women than men? Would be interested in what others think?

Posted by: florida | July 17, 2007 9:43 AM

You are getting the door slammed in your face because prospective employers believe that because of your age, you are going to ask for too much.

It turns out they were right. You are asking for too much.

Posted by: Bob | July 17, 2007 9:44 AM

When on earth did we get the to the idea that over 50 is old and no longer useful?

As a baby boomer, I can identify with you Leslie. I feel like a lifelong student, constantly trying to improve my education and resume just to keep up, but
as soon as an employer looks at you, or if you list employment that goes back more than ten years, you are perceived as a dinosaur that's ready for Medicare and a nursing home, no matter how skilled you are.

The same thing happened to my mother when she turned 50, at the hospital where she worked for over 20 years, and was at the top of the rung in her classification and pay level, management went through every dept. that wasn't unionized and fired every employee over 50 with trumped up charges and replaced them with young recent graduates with little experience and low pay.
Instead of fighting back, most (all women) had second incomes and they opted to retire early, except my mother who went to the NLB with her complaints to no avail and no backup. You have to be able to prove intent.
It was sad that so many do not fight age discrimination and most employers know that.
America throws out workers after the age of 50 like last weeks garbage, in search of cheap, young labor with no benefits.

Posted by: Another boomer | July 17, 2007 9:45 AM

Did anybody notice she doesn't want to do anything physical? I suppose there are health/weight issues, which employers can see or anticipate, in addition to age? SpEd teacher assistants have decent pay and great benefots. She can get teacher cert in reasonable time while on the job (my sister did such career change after being a tire shop manager for many years.) Babysitting or nanny? Plumber apprentice, and I'm not kidding: our appartment building just hired 70 y.o. guy for the job, at $25/hour. Basically he is a helper to (much more highly paid) plumber in case the latter needs extra pair of hands. The lady is too proud to get her hads dirty or sick and tired of kids after raising two? People out here are willing to pay for her labour, not for her intellect.

Posted by: What kind of job? | July 17, 2007 9:51 AM

Try working for a government employer - local, state, or federal level. The pay isn't always great but they offer benefits. I also think they are more careful of not discriminating or even appearing to discriminate based on age.

To DCer - while starting your own company is definitely a good option, it is not for everyone. I am also in my 50s and do nothing on eBay - buy or sell. Why would I ever start an eBay business? I would hate having to store the merchandise and pack it all up to ship it out.

I spent my life shopping in person being able to touch and smell. I like it. I'm not afraid of trying new things, but I'm sure I'm not alone in sticking with things I like. I only say this to point out that what works for some doesn't work for others.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 9:52 AM

"Does anyone else think her situation has more to do with being out of the work force for 20 years as opposed to ageism?"

I totally agree. With that much of an employment gap, the only opportunities are going to be entry level. I think a lot of good advice has been given here already.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned is that she doesn't indicate she has a specific job/career in mind. She would probably have a lot more success if she figured out what she wants to do. Then she could focus on getting the training, making contacts, tailoring her resume, etc. to those specific jobs.

She needs to have a goal that's much more specific than "a job that pays decent with benefits".

Posted by: Dennis | July 17, 2007 9:53 AM

Karen, I feel for you; that's a tough situation. My only advice is to look beyond the typical want ads and monster.com job searches. (You may be doing this already, so I apologize if this is redundant). It seems to me that your resume is unusual, and most of the big companies who have advertised are looking for people who fit in a particular box -- X degree, Y years' experience, Z skills, etc. And people like you who don't fit neatly into that box will get dinged without even having a chance. Unfair, shortsighted, sure. But if these folks are getting 100 resumes for every position, they need to find some way to winnow it down.

My firm does tend to hire people with more unique histories and life stories. But we're a small shop, and we typically don't advertise for positions; if a really smart person comes along, we'll snap her up if we can find a way to make a position, but we're mostly dependent on people we know referring potential new hires to us (ie, people moving cross-country from another firm we work with).

It seems to me that you have likely made a LOT of contacts with the unpaid work you have been doing over the past 20 years. Might you be able to ask some of them to let you know if they hear of a position that suits your skills (again, if you haven't been doing so already)? I know my husband and I have had the best luck with networking -- not glad-handing schmoozefests (ish), but just building relationships with people we work with. My husband has gotten every job since his postdoc through word of mouth from people he worked with, and I found my current position that way (I wasn't even looking -- was b*tching to my stepmom about how boring my job was, and she kept telling me she knew this really, really smart lawyer in my field and I should really go talk to him).

Obviously, you then have to go land the job yourself. But even getting a foot in the door, with a built-in recommendation from someone your potential employer knows and trusts, will give you a leg up over everyone else who just sent their resumes in. I suspect that's even more critical for you, because you don't have a current employer in the same line of work who can tell your potential new boss how great you are. So having some sort of referral would really give them some confidence that you really are as good as they hope you are.

Remember, the folks who do the hiring are risk-averse -- no one will remember the three superstars they hired, but that one lazy do-nothing that it took the company 18 months to be able to fire will be permanently etched on their boss' brain. :-) Because you didn't follow the typical career path, they will see you as a risk. If someone else doesn't work out, the hiring guy can defend himself by pointing to his 3.8 in his major, 4 years direct hands-on experience, and great recommendations. But if you don't work out, it'll be, well, gee, she didn't work for 20 years, that didn't give you a clue? Thing is, people hiring for the typical career path want to see resumes with the typical career path, because it's safer for them. Since you chose to hop off that path 20 years ago, it's going to be very tough to hop back on it now. So either you need to be willing to start over at the beginning and take that $30K, or you need to look beyond the typical approach (smaller firms, creative interpretation of positions you're interested in, using word of mouth, setting up your own business, nonprofits, etc.).

Posted by: Laura | July 17, 2007 9:53 AM

No one has mentioned Linda Hirshman's controversial (here) Get to Work Manifesto. This is part of what she's talking about. Women quit paid work and then are suprised or frustrated or impoverished later when they need money. I hope this can be a lesson to younger women considering dropping out of paid work--time flies and you can't pick up where you left off.

Having said that, there are many good suggestions here for the poster. The 30k job would be a good start. Plan to be there a year or two to beef up your resume. Pick one where you can acquire additional skills and responsibilities for a paid employer (what I call bullets--resume bullets) that will make you more desirable to your next employer. Temping is also a great idea. Temping will get you into a variety of places and many employers who use temps make them permenent offers. Temping also gets current paid experience on your resume fast. Also, make sure you are looking your best. An updated look that includes hair, eyeglasses, wardrobe, accessories, etc is critical.

As hard as it may be, try to lose the attitude. I know it's hard when you feel something is not fair, but it is hurting your job search. If people on the blog can pick up on it, interviewers can too. Good luck.

Posted by: used to be a career counselor | July 17, 2007 9:57 AM

As a person who has done a lot of hiring and interviewing, here's what I hear from her: "Based on little more than my 30-year-old college degree and paralegal certificate, I have concluded that I no longer have to prove myself to anyone, I am too good to take an entry position and work my way up, and if you do hire me and I do not rapidly advance within your company, I will become a poisonous force in the office or perhaps file a lawsuit against you." Yikes!
Here's my suggestion, and it works whether you are 20 or 60. Take the best job you can find; work hard to show you are valuable; then, after a reasonable period of time (perhaps 9 or 12 months), explain to the employer that you want to move up or out, and do it in a classy way so that you can get a reference if you don't get a raise or promotion. Managers in the current economy are desperate for responsible, educated workers -- we are at functionally full employment in this nation, remember? -- and if you prove yourself, you will be rewarded within twelve months. Yes, bad employers exist, but only a small percentage of people are economically irrational, so if you are good and you are creating value, you will quickly find someone to reward you. And remember, contacts and context are everything. If you take an entry job, you will get many non-salary benefits such as experience with modern office environments and a network of co-workers who can vouch for you (even if the boss doesn't) and who can tell you about new, better opportunities in the same firm or outside it. This is what people mean when they use cliches like "get back in the game." Think about this from the employers' perspective: why would they want to take a chance on someone who doesn't seem to be confident that, starting from an entry position, she can demonstrate her value to the company?

Posted by: RowerinVa | July 17, 2007 9:58 AM

The postings so far have left out the most important factor. "It's not what you know, it's whom you know." I got my job because my employer knew me and had seen my work. My son got his job through someone he knew. So did his wife. In fact, the same fellow arranged the job interviews for both of them. My former girl friend got her job at the hospital where her husband practiced medicine.

This business of "resumés" and "credentials" and "experience" and the like is all well and good, and certainly you have to have them. But in the last analysis, the bosses promote the people they play golf with, and they hire the children of the people they play golf with. A "friend of a friend" who is willing to give you a chance to prove yourself at his company is worth more than a stack of resumés and a non-Harvard degree.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 17, 2007 9:58 AM

Working Mom X, can't speak for Raleigh, but 9:31 and Milano are accurate about large northeast and mid atlantic firms. You are not likely to be an associate at a large NY (or DC) firm without going to a top tier school unless you are an absolute standout and even that would be rare. And first you have to get into and graduate from those top tier law schools. They're not giving away 165k starting salaries.

Posted by: lawyer | July 17, 2007 9:59 AM

"This is what happens when you are out of the workforce for 20 years."

Yeah, that sure was stupid and lazy of her to stay at home and care for her chronically ill children. What kind of a mother would do that?

One who does not value her career, obviously.

DCer - your tone is completely condescending and not even remotely helpful. The fact that you can't seem to understand why everybody didn't start and Ebay business when you did is as silly as asking why everyone didn't marry a terrific spouse who is a high earner. This woman is asking for help not criticism of things she did or didn't do 20 years ago. I would also argue that volunteering while caring for chronically ill children is a lot more taxing than doing so on top of paid work. At least with paid work you get vacation time. I think it is laudable that while her family was in such need, she was still willing to extend herself. Until you walk in her shoes, give her a break.

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 09:23 AM

Or one who truly values her family.

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 17, 2007 9:59 AM

Maybe take a year to earn a Master's in Journalism?

Posted by: To Karen | July 17, 2007 10:00 AM

My son just got a job as a paralegal/legal assistant. He graduated with a degree in liberal arts in May. It pays about $30K.

He never did any internships or office-type things over the summer so he has about zero on the experience chart.

So I think that $30K probably is about what you should expect.

With my son we said, "take it." Getting started is the most important thing. We will subsidize his auto insurance/car for awhile to help him along.

It is no fun to be over 50 and job hunting. There is always someone younger who will work for less or be perceived to put more time in to beat you out.

One totally crazy thing I would hope is that you are coloring any gray hair, and making an effort to fit into something size 14 or below. It sucks, but those kinds of things make immediate impressions and when you are up against twenty-somethings you have to think about it.

Posted by: RoseG | July 17, 2007 10:01 AM

Why does everyone keep saying this woman has been out of work for 20 years? She said she managed a back office. From my experience working for a small, family-run business, that takes a lot of work!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 10:04 AM

Definitely brush up on your computer skills! I have had hired, then had to let go, women in their 50s and 60s who claimed to have computer skills and then approached the keyboard as if it were a monster they would attack them if they made a wrong move. Very frustrating...

Posted by: Me | July 17, 2007 10:05 AM

Matt in Aberdeen, you are completely correct about the importance of networking. But that's not going to help her until she figures out what she wants to do. Are you going to recommend someone for a job when their goal is "a job that pays decent and has benefits"? Of course not. Not to mention you won't even know who to recommend them to.

On the other hand, say you have a friend who has a strong desire to get into event planning. Then you can say "I can talk to my contact at the company we hired to plan our last department event and see if she can help you." It's so much easier to network when you have a concrete goal.

Posted by: Dennis | July 17, 2007 10:09 AM

«No one has mentioned Linda Hirshman's controversial (here) Get to Work Manifesto. This is part of what she's talking about. Women quit paid work and then are suprised or frustrated or impoverished later when they need money. I hope this can be a lesson to younger women considering dropping out of paid work--time flies and you can't pick up where you left off.»

«Posted by: used to be a career counselor | July 17, 2007 09:57 AM»

Linda Hirshman, her lesson is Do not be a Staying In the Residence Mother, be a Working Outside the Residence Mother because that is the only way to get money and power and money and power are all that matter. Also, Only one child is Linda Hirshman's lesson because with more than one child you have to move to Suburbs where there are not convenient Chinese take out restaurants.

Posted by: abu ibrahim | July 17, 2007 10:09 AM

Why does everyone keep saying this woman has been out of work for 20 years? She said she managed a back office. From my experience working for a small, family-run business, that takes a lot of work!

Maybe because the company revenues never got above $10000 a year and mostly were used for tax write-off. If HMs don't throw her resume right away they Google the company.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 10:09 AM

"Why does everyone keep saying this woman has been out of work for 20 years? She said she managed a back office. From my experience working for a small, family-run business, that takes a lot of work!

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 10:04 AM"

Because that's how she described it:

"I was going to stay home for 10 years until my two kids were settled in school. Ten became 20 when both my children developed spondyloarthropathy"

I agree with you that she doesn't actually have a 20-year gap. But how she presents herself may play a part in her problem finding a job -- if your "personal story" is that you stayed home with the kids for 20 years and "helped out" as you had time, an interviewer is going to look at you differently than if you present yourself as having spent that time running the office for the family business.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 10:12 AM

"Definitely brush up on your computer skills! I have had hired, then had to let go, women in their 50s and 60s who claimed to have computer skills and then approached the keyboard as if it were a monster they would attack them if they made a wrong move. Very frustrating..."

This is where implementing a simple typing or Microsoft test would come in handy. Employment agencies do it all the time.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 10:12 AM

It seems hard to imagine age discrimination going away on the benefits front while companies are self insured.

Posted by: politics | July 17, 2007 10:13 AM

I agree with other posters that your energy in interviews is key. You can overcome the age by showing your high energy and a good attitude through your appearance - the first impression is important. Invest in a good haircut and color and a makeup lesson and good products for your skin. Also check that your wardrobe is modern and flatters you. I've witnessed interviewees as a receptionist and appearance is key: if they looked bedraggled or rough around the edges, they didn't get a call back and the interviewer would comment on it later. Might sound shallow, but part of the decision to hire is if they would enjoy working with you, and looking good (as in you take care of yourself and find yourself worthy of the effort) cannot hurt. Good luck!

Posted by: yes, looks count | July 17, 2007 10:13 AM

Karen,

I think it's great you are looking for a career. Please don't give up! I returned to work after a 10 year gap. My new employer only cared that I could do the job, not that I had been out of the workforce. That said, the salary (p/t with benefits) is extremely low, and there have been moments when some younger people assumed I didn't know the technology (which I do -- I've kept up with all of it).


At the same time, you just need to find a career where there is high demand and hiring managers are relieved to find someone competent and who can get along with others. (People skills are still in demand!)

There are some careers that will be in demand nearly everywhere: development (fundraising) for example, where your breadth of experience will help you.

It's a real career, and if you plan on working another 15 years, you have time to develop a long range plan.

Or, telemarketing, or telesales. It may not look glamorous, but there is a demand in many places.

I'm a few years behind you, but in the past year, I've jumped back into the labor pool and am ready to look for yet another position.

I would also look at not-for-profits and universities. There are a wide array of choices there.

As an added note, my mother worked when the youngest in our family went to school, so she was 41, but her "real career" started at 49. She retired at 65.

Don't give up! Hang in there!

Posted by: Kate | July 17, 2007 10:15 AM

We all have to reasonable expectations when job hunting. The employers would be more impressed if you'd take one of the lower paying jobs. I've taken time off for kids and gone back to work and I'll probably do it again. Get your foot in the door and prove what you can do.

Posted by: free bird | July 17, 2007 10:15 AM

Try working for a government employer - local, state, or federal level. The pay isn't always great but they offer benefits. I also think they are more careful of not discriminating or even appearing to discriminate based on age.


ever apply for a government job? it can take a year or more to even get a response, let alone an interview. Having filled out many of those gov't 'skills knowledge abilities' apps, I can tell you that a govt job may be a wonderful thing but you need to know someone inside to wade through all the red tape and long wait to even be acknowledged. Karen should apply but she should expect a long wait.

Posted by: hope for karen | July 17, 2007 10:16 AM

To Hiring Manager:
When Karen said she was over and done with "to many" she was correct. You are wrong when you say "too many". I can't believe I have to explain this to you but here goes. Karen meant that to many people she is over and done with--not that too many or an overabundance of people found her over and done with.
If you are going to anxiously pick apart Karen's writing and typing, you owe it to her and yourself to at least be correct about it. Now let's ask the question: who would want to hire you? Gee whiz.....

Posted by: questionauthority | July 17, 2007 10:16 AM

I second the "government job is not a good option" comment. If you know someone who wants to hire you, great. Otherwise, not only is the application process impossibly long and Byzantine, but the people doing the hiring are even LESS willing to take risks on people they don't know. You think it's hard to fire someone from a private sector job, try doing it from a civil service position.

Posted by: NotAMom | July 17, 2007 10:20 AM

I second the "government job is not a good option" comment. If you know someone who wants to hire you, great. Otherwise, not only is the application process impossibly long and Byzantine, but the people doing the hiring are even LESS willing to take risks on people they don't know. You think it's hard to fire someone from a private sector job, try doing it from a civil service position.

Posted by: NotAMom | July 17, 2007 10:20 AM

Karen's already been job-hunting for two years. If she'd applied right away to the government, she might have a job by now.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 10:23 AM

"I could be wrong, but issn't she saying that she was only out for 10 years? It sounds to me like she spent the last ten years working the back office in her husband's firm."

I read it as she considers calling an plumber to fix the leaking toilet to be "consulting with vendors." I don't mean that to be snarky, but I seriously thought she was just phrasing household running tasks in work terms.

Posted by: RT | July 17, 2007 10:26 AM

For reference, I worked as a technical writer for years, then went to law school. Now I write briefs most of the time, and short stories and plays in my spare time.

Do NOT go to law school. That is a terrifically bad idea. It is expensive, and the time you will have to recoup that money is not enough to make it worth the trouble. Also, if you are interested in a creative job this will crush your soul. Hiring good paralegals is very tough - hiring lawyers is pretty easy. If you were willing to USE that Paralegal credential, and do a little bit of updating on training, you could almost certainly get a job as a paralegal. Trouble is, you want to write. That is an extremely competitive field, a bunch of young people will work for very little. That's your competition, and apparently they want it worse than you do. You are going to HAVE to take a job for a low salary to get your foot in the door. That is what all of us have done: you may have paid your dues, but it was in the wrong place.

What I'd recommend is that you get a paralegal job if you need money, and do some writing on the side. Work up your portfolio, get things published, and bring that portfolio with you to look for a writing job. If you seriously want to retool, then work at the retooling like a job.

As for the paralegal gig, I hire paralegals. I like women in your age range: back then, there were fewer options for women, and I know that those women are smarter and more capable than what I can hire out of school these days. I can get more person for my money! I will always prefer to hire a woman in your age range -- call it sexism or agism -- than some young snap who doesn't know how to work.

So that would be my advice, and I have gotten jobs as a writer (although you probably wouldn't consider what I did very sexy - I was well-paid and quite successful at it) and I do the writing that I enjoy in my spare time. What most people think of as "writing jobs" aren't the kind of writing people think will be exciting, as a rule. What's critical to the writing world that you can demonstrate as a paralegal? Working on deadline and excruciating attention to detail. Working for demanding people, and knowing how to be a team player. Get your feet wet back in the game as a paralegal, work on the dream in your spare time.

Posted by: Has experience | July 17, 2007 10:28 AM

The employers are the ones with the jobs and the power to offer or withold them.

While there might be larger societal or organizational issues at work, the job of the hiring manager is to use his or her experience to hire who they believe is the best person to do the job. It is not to be fair to a certain class of workers, it is not to give people a chance, it is not to contort themselves to see a candidate's experience in a way that allows the candidate to get what s/he wants.

I hire candidates who I think can do the job - so if someone isn't getting hired, it's because I think they can't or there are other candidates who I think can do it better. I'm paid to accurately predict that. So - while issues of whether that is right or wrong are "interesting" and of interest to the candidate - they really aren't to the hiring manager. The candidate is either able to persuade me they can do the job or they can't.

Posted by: citydock | July 17, 2007 10:30 AM

He bills $175 per hour for that work and did at least 5 cases that I know of... people in poor cities in India run their own consultancies online for $5 per hour- and they're super-successful.

You've just contradicted your own advice.
-----
How? By saying that everyone can start a consultancy? You are aware, right, that I was talking about two different positions, one who can appear in court as an expert witness, and one who will do your medical transcriptions. I get it that people like to be funny and everything, but your post makes no sense. I contradicted nothing.

Posted by: DCer | July 17, 2007 10:33 AM

HR people are notorious morons when it comes to the English language. I was once rejected by an employment agency because I wrote in my cover letter of a desire to "effect change". The functionary at the agency gave it a red mark because she thought "effect" could only be a noun and it should be "affect". Never mind that "affect change", MUCH LIKE "over and done with too [sic!] many" makes absolutely no sense.

Look, the author needs to accept the first job she is offered that has benefits (even if it's $20 or $25K). If she is as ambitious and trainable as she says, she will rapidly rise above her desired $30,000 threshold or find something better.

Posted by: Matt | July 17, 2007 10:36 AM

Karen if you haven't already tried it, you should rewrite your resume as a functional resume (instead of chronological). You list everything by skill or by project so that what you do is highlighted instead of any gaps. Also I have found that calling people that I have applied to and saying something like "I really wanted to work there because..... and I think I would be a good fit because a, b and c" helps a LOT.

Posted by: Millie | July 17, 2007 10:37 AM

By saying that everyone can start a consultancy? You are aware, right, that I was talking about two different positions

Yes. Very few people who do this will be able to charge $175 unless they have an unusually high level of expertise. There's a far greater risk that a person starting their own business will initially have to compete against the $5/hour Indian.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 10:38 AM

You might want to skip looking for Federal jobs, since as other have mentioned, the hiring process is slow, however, you might want to try state and local government. The pay is not as high as the private sector, but usually the benefits are pretty good - and offered to all full time people.

I had a state government job about 10 years ago. The hiring process was very similar to a private firms. Nothing like a federal job. County government would be an option too. Depending on where you, the breadth of opportunity may be as great as in state government. (I'd bet you could find almost all the same positions in Fairfax County gov. as you could for the state of Virginia.)

Posted by: Government jobs | July 17, 2007 10:39 AM

I commend the writer for taking time for her kids. I'm a 20 something with arthritis and can't imagine having had to deal with it when I was a child or how hard it would have been for my parents.

That being said, I've been in a position where I needed a job and couldn't find anything that was commensurate with my skill or education. Regardless of the reasons, I decided to take the best job offered. If you need a job, you can't be above taking something below your skill set or pay wishes. At least it seems the writer's husband is able to provide health insurance. When you need a job, you have to take what you get, even if it means being underemployed. Then you just keep looking. Try to figure out how your job can parlay into something better.

I understand that she's frustrated because she believes that she's being discriminated against. Well, I'm young, so I can't understand completely, but I have faced other discriminatory issues - youth, illness, gender, etc. The thing is, if it is discrimination, unless you can prove it, it doesn't help to dwell. If its that the job market is tight and employers are leery on taking a chance on someone with a large employment gap, then start working. Show them that you have the skills and are willing to work hard. Most employers take notice.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 10:39 AM

Why would I ever start an eBay business? I would hate having to store the merchandise and pack it all up to ship it out.

I spent my life shopping in person being able to touch and smell. I like it. I'm not afraid of trying new things, but I'm sure I'm not alone in sticking with things I like. I only say this to point out that what works for some doesn't work for others.

------

right, but one undercurrent of this discussion is that society has changed as radically as it did from 1966-1970. Everything has gone online. You don't have to change, but first, I just turned 40, and second, isn't this article about someone's resistance to change shooting them in the foot?

So, you don't want to make money on ebay (and you can't picture using a wholesaler so you don't have to store the stuff and pack it yourself, fair enough, that's complex and I mentioned garage sales), but that doesn't mean the next hiring manager has to respect your dislike of online commerce, right?

Posted by: DCer | July 17, 2007 10:39 AM

Sting Ordered to Pay $51,000 to Ex-Chef

LONDON (AP) -- An employment tribunal ordered Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler, on Tuesday to pay a former chef $51,000 in compensation after she won a sexual-discrimination claim against them.

Jane Martin, 41, won her claim in May. She said she was fired after she became pregnant.

At a hearing earlier this year, Martin said she had worked for the 55-year-old pop star and his wife for eight years, cooking meals for them and guests including Madonna and Elton John.

She said Styler grew unhappy with her after she became pregnant in 2005, making her work long hours and growing angry when she took time off work because of illness.

Martin, who accused Styler of having a "grandiose ego," left her job under disputed circumstances in April 2006.

The panel at an employment tribunal in Southampton, southern England, said in its May ruling that Martin had been unlawfully dismissed by Lake House Estate, Sting and Styler's management company, and was a victim of sexual discrimination.

Sting and Styler said they had already launched an appeal.

Posted by: Pregnancy discrimination case | July 17, 2007 10:40 AM

Silly question, but does her husband's job provide any benefits (I'm thinking health insurance)?

I think it may be time to simply take a job, while pursuing a better job. If you still haven't found one, after 6-9 months you may be in a postition to negotiate for more money, or benefits.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 10:40 AM

Karen, I empathize with you COMPLETELY. Also am a woman in her fifties, thirty years of Federal Government experience, including two in the Executive Office of the President in the mid-1990s. After leaving the USG, the only work I could find was as a temp or contract worker without benefits and, while they'll never admit it, employers DO practice age discrimination, particularly in regards to mature women. I continue to apply for positions, but after over a year of being interviewed by twentysomethings who think I'm at death's door, it's getting to be a little frustrating!

Posted by: Been There | July 17, 2007 10:42 AM

right, but one undercurrent of this discussion is that society has changed as radically as it did from 1966-1970. Everything has gone online. You don't have to change, but first, I just turned 40, and second, isn't this article about someone's resistance to change shooting them in the foot?

So, you don't want to make money on ebay (and you can't picture using a wholesaler so you don't have to store the stuff and pack it yourself, fair enough, that's complex and I mentioned garage sales), but that doesn't mean the next hiring manager has to respect your dislike of online commerce, right?

Posted by: DCer | July 17, 2007 10:39 AM

I still prefer buying clothes that I have tried on. The rise is different, brand-to-brand, and the cut matters greatly.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 10:43 AM

Anyone see the obama girl and guillani girl videos on YouTube - funny, funny stuff.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 10:48 AM

If it is ageism (and to some degree, it probably is), then you may want to consider how to update your look.

Are the clothes really dated? Does your resume look 20 years old? Is your make-up too brightly coloured and thus harsh? Would it be worth your time and money to get your hair lightly colored (lighter than your original hair color)?

Plus you may need to demonstrate that you have kept current on certain things. Microsoft, for example. Hit that community college and take advantage of some classes.

Definitely work your community. You volunteered, you know many people, don't be humble. Let people know you are looking for a job, what kind of job you are looking for, and keep at it.

It's frustrating, it's demoralizing, but eventually you will get something. You may have to bite down on the sh*t cupcake and take a 30K or less job, for 6-12 months. Either you will negotiate a raise and benefits, or you will find something that is more appropriate.

Best wishes.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 10:49 AM

DCer - your tone is completely condescending and not even remotely helpful. The fact that you can't seem to understand why everybody didn't start and Ebay business when you did is as silly as asking why everyone didn't marry a terrific spouse who is a high earner. This woman is asking for help not criticism of things she did or didn't do 20 years ago. I would also argue that volunteering while caring for chronically ill children is a lot more taxing than doing so on top of paid work.
-----

I think we can all agree that working as a garbageman, lifting heavy cans and sweating in the hot sun is way more taxing than working in an office, right? I think we can all agree that effort counts for zip in this world, right? We do have that understanding, correct, that we're talking about earning money and not expending effort, right? We all agree that there is no connection between effort and salary, right?

then why bring it up?

I am not suggesting that an ebay business is the answer to everyone's job plans, obviously. obviously! I barely made enough last year to declare my side business on my taxes.

And I think we all know if a family can live in Bergen County on one salary then it's HIGH so I suspect she did marry wealthy already, but I fail to see the connection between that and putting forth the effort to start a business.

What I'm trying to say is that the era of a one-job life is over, long over, and if the government dismantles social security then we're really in trouble. Everyone should have two jobs or at least have a spouse with two jobs. Because if you do not, then you can end up in a situation where you get fired at age 60 and no new company wants to take a chance, so you have to go solo until medicare kicks in.

Like it or not we are all on our own. Unless we vote in politicians who will increase the safety net, then all we have is ourselves.

I do not think I'm being condescending by suggesting the author turn this "back office management" job she said she had into a real consulting gig. If her skills are real then she can do this. If I'm being condescending, it's that I think she doesn't realize that two-earner families also share back office management duties and have the same skills and experience she has, rendering those skills suspect.

Posted by: DCer | July 17, 2007 10:54 AM

What jobs I've found and taken in the past two years are part-time work with no benefits. The work is unfulfilling and monetarily insignificant. So, tell me, what now? I am valuable, but how do I persuade potential employers of my potential contributions?

Well, do they have any full-time positions? If yes, then you simply need to start treating the jobs as though you are a full-time employee. Keep a record of what you have accomplished that was above-and-beyond the job description.

You don't persuade them with words, you demonstrate with your actions (and your record-keeping on what a whip-ass employee you've been).

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 10:54 AM

I have been in the staffing industry for 12 years. Karen's main problem is not her own, it is that there is heavy competition in the NJ market. If she wasn't hired, it does not mean the interviewer saw her as completely without value. However, I'll bet the hiring manager found someone with more relevant experience. The person hiring is obligated to hire the best qualified individual for the job. In most cases, Karen just is not going to be the most qualified. No judgement as to what she should/should not have done for her children. It's just a fact. The solution is to be persistant. Don't stop interviewing - keep going!

Posted by: Ellicott City Mom | July 17, 2007 10:55 AM

Employers take shortcuts in evaluating people - some would say stereotype or judge on appearance. But it's true.

Everyone needs to be aware that if you look dowdy or out of date in clothes/hair/eyeglasses it telegraphs "I don't pay attention". Or if you are wearing ill-fitting or rumpled clothes or your nails are a mess, it says "not good on details".

As for the back office experience, again with shortcuts, I would think immediately that a husband's business with help from the wife at home with two children who are probably a handful isn't necessarily a fulltime job or one that provides lots of experience. (I would think that the person must be great at multitasking and tuning out noise! :-) ) I would worry that not being in a "traditional" office environment could mean that there's not a lot of recent experience with deadlines, dealing with difficult people, demanding bosses, etc. You'll have to sell this one carefully to highlight what you did do and learn. How many hours? How many employees in company?

Posted by: paying attention | July 17, 2007 10:57 AM

I can certainly sympathize with Karen. After 11 years as a translator in Japan, I came back to the U.S. Based on the experiences of other returned expatriates, I knew what to expect. U.S. businesses would regard the skills and experience I gained in Japan as of "no value" regardless of how much I believed I had to offer based on them. If I was lucky, I could get a job for a Japansese auto firm or bank (fields in which I have no interest).

If you think foreign language skills are valued by U.S. business,think again. Why should they pay you for having professional-level fluency in a foreign language when they can hire all the native speakers they want for no extra? As for the cultural knowledge gained from an extended period overseas, forget it. American managers don't even know that they don't know anything about differences in culture, nor do they grasp how understanding those differences could help them succeed overseas. Sorry, I had to get that off my chest.

Anyway, I knew I would be back to square one. When I came back to the U.S. I went back to school and got a B.S. in chemistry, and when I graduated I knew that I would have to take an entry-level position just like the 21-year-olds I went to school with (with whom I could keep up just fine, by the way). I did get a job, but it is not nearly as fulfilling as I would like it to be -- welcome to the real world!

In my opinion, U.S. businesses today don't give a hoot for your potential -- only if you can do exactly what you want for them the minute you walk in the door. If you do analytical chemistry, for example, they only want you if you know how to operate the same type of instruments they have, for example. They wouldn't hire Max Planck unless he was experienced in using Waters or Agilent or whatever.

To some extent they have to be that way, to some extent I think they are shooting themselves in the foot. Frankly, I think there is an unrealistic cult-like mentality in the business world here in the U.S. today; I think we have lost sight of our good old American pragmatism.

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | July 17, 2007 10:57 AM

"I think we can all agree that working as a garbageman, lifting heavy cans and sweating in the hot sun is way more taxing than working in an office, right? I think we can all agree that effort counts for zip in this world, right? We do have that understanding, correct, that we're talking about earning money and not expending effort, right? We all agree that there is no connection between effort and salary, right?

then why bring it up?"

I brought it up because you were pooh poohing her volunteer work by saying that many people do volunteer work on top of their paid jobs.

Your suggestions weren't condescending it was your tone and the incredulity with which you mentioned her (and everyone's) failure to start an Ebay business based on garage sale items.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 10:58 AM

I have so much respect and sympathy for this author, but before she unfortunately realized that her children were going to be chronically ill, she had already decided to take ten years off of work. That is a very long time to be out of the workforce, and while she was playing SAHM, others of us have gone on to further our careers. I do not have much sympathy for the SAHMs that choose to quit their careers (and I am talking about choosing to not work even though their children are healthy, not like the author's children who are chronically ill) and then want to whine and complain about how hard it is to get back in the workforce.

Posted by: arlington mom | July 17, 2007 11:01 AM

oops 10:58 was me.

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 17, 2007 11:01 AM

Karen,

I am a manager in a federal government legal office and have hired a number of people who are "older" for both paralegal and administrative assistant positions, based on the education (which you have), obvious intelligence (both emotional and otherwise) and good writing skills. But they must know how to use current computer equipment and programs such as Word and Excel. If you have not already, you need to take a course and get a certificate to show you know how to use the basic programs. An employer does not want to have to train you completely in up-to-date technology skills. With that, a smart employer would be wise to give you a change. Age discrimination is illegal but it is also not smart, because some of the best people I have ever hired have been in their 40s or 50s. They tend to be more reliable and to develop more institutional loyalty than the Gen X and Gen Y crowd. Good luck with your search.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 11:02 AM

And I think we all know if a family can live in Bergen County on one salary then it's HIGH so I suspect she did marry wealthy already, but I fail to see the connection between that and putting forth the effort to start a business.

That's like saying if you live in Bethesda, MD, you married wealthy. We don't know when they bought their home, we don't know anything about what lifestyle they've led through the years.

Case in point, when my parents bought their home, they got it for less than 26K. You couldn't touch it for less than 400K today. Did they KNOW it would appreciate that much through the years? Nope. Back then, it was not "the place" to be. They simply were able to afford it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 11:02 AM

Let's all start our own an ebay sales companies, and sell stuff to one another. We'll each make a bundle, right?

Posted by: Idea! | July 17, 2007 11:02 AM

"Karen's already been job-hunting for two years. If she'd applied right away to the government, she might have a job by now."

Especially in the Fed court system...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 11:03 AM

"playing SAHM"

What does that mean? Do your daycare workers "play caregiver" all day?

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 17, 2007 11:03 AM

One comment about "the 10 years I worked as my husband's solo back office staff, handling everything from the purchase of supplies to managing vendor issues":

While I have no doubt Karen did a fine job managing her husband's back office, the fact remains it was HER HUSBAND she worked for. Her husband would be unlikely to fire her or be angry because she had to miss work to take care of their children. She probably had flexible hours. However useful she was to the company, this was not a professional gig where she had to get along with a boss and coworkers who have no vested interest in her welfare or general happiness. If I were a hiring manager, that fact would leap out at me. Everyone who's ever worked for someone else knows that often the most challenging part of a job is not the actual work but the personality conflicts of the workplace.

Posted by: Lisa | July 17, 2007 11:08 AM

Your suggestions weren't condescending it was your tone and the incredulity with which you mentioned her (and everyone's) failure to start an Ebay business based on garage sale items.

-------

I never suggested that everyone start an ebay company doing what I did back then. I did not write that and apologize if I gave people the impression when I said "company" that I meant "ebay company" specifically.

Everyone I knew who became successful started little side businesses when the internet took off around 1996. Ebay for me. Daytrading stocks for others. Consulting gigs, blogs, and other ideas for others. My wife's company processes documents for Canadian companies through the US government. Barely makes 5 figures and that's a great business to have on top of a regular job. Other ideas for other people looking to make money. I cannot think of all the kinds of part time jobs people could create for themselves.

I know what I suspect, and I'm going to say it. This writer doesn't want a job. She thinks she wants a job. But if she did, she'd have more evidence that she made the effort. Where was her online forum, blog, or book about staying at home with special needs kids in 1999? The lack of evidence of that makes me think this effort to get a job isn't real. In other words, she's looking for an external reason why she can't get a job, but the reason is internal and her lack of entrepreneurship during her time with the kids is part of that.

Posted by: DCer | July 17, 2007 11:09 AM

Newsflash: "lack of entrepreneurship" does not necessarily mean a person won't be a good worker. In fact, too much "entrepreneurship" could be a sign that someone is not a good team player.

Posted by: To DCer | July 17, 2007 11:13 AM

But if she did, she'd have more evidence that she made the effort. Where was her online forum, blog, or book about staying at home with special needs kids in 1999?

Huh, any chance that she didn't write about it because she was so busy actually doing it?

Besides, did you miss this bit?

She has given motivational speeches, written a monthly column for an arthritis Web site, and has written an unpublished book on juvenile arthritis.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 11:13 AM

"Everyone who's ever worked for someone else knows that often the most challenging part of a job is not the actual work but the personality conflicts of the workplace."

Lisa, this is true but I wouldn't so casually trash Karen's experience. I would expect someone who has dealt with the difficulties Karen has to add a dimension of maturity to a workplace -- certainly something of great value to any enterprise.

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | July 17, 2007 11:14 AM

LOL!

What are the odds that DCer will recognize this about himself? I'm going to guess--not at all.

Newsflash: "lack of entrepreneurship" does not necessarily mean a person won't be a good worker. In fact, too much "entrepreneurship" could be a sign that someone is not a good team player.

Posted by: To DCer | July 17, 2007 11:13 AM

Posted by: to: to DCer | July 17, 2007 11:17 AM

"Where was her online forum, blog, or book about staying at home with special needs kids in 1999? "

from the description of karen -
"She has given motivational speeches, written a monthly column for an arthritis Web site, and has written an unpublished book on juvenile arthritis."

She is looking for a publisher - sorry if you are going to critize her freelance efforts at least get it right.

Posted by: another to DCer | July 17, 2007 11:17 AM

"She has given motivational speeches, written a monthly column for an arthritis Web site, and has written an unpublished book on juvenile arthritis."

Not much to show for 20 years for someone who wants to be a writer...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 11:21 AM

"So, you don't want to make money on ebay (and you can't picture using a wholesaler so you don't have to store the stuff and pack it yourself, fair enough, that's complex and I mentioned garage sales), but that doesn't mean the next hiring manager has to respect your dislike of online commerce, right"

You are right. I was explaining that starting an ebay business isn't for everyone since you recommended it as an option. There wouldn't be a hiring manager to worry about if it was your own business.

I would have no problem with doing online commerce as an employee for someone else as long as I don't have to do the packing :).

There are many people like myself who would rather be an employee than work for themselves. I like leaving at the end of the day and not giving my job a thought until the next morning.

Posted by: to DCer | July 17, 2007 11:21 AM

Working Mom X, can't speak for Raleigh, but 9:31 and Milano are accurate about large northeast and mid atlantic firms. You are not likely to be an associate at a large NY (or DC) firm without going to a top tier school unless you are an absolute standout and even that would be rare. And first you have to get into and graduate from those top tier law schools. They're not giving away 165k starting salaries.

Posted by: lawyer | July 17, 2007 09:59 AM

I suspect that WorkingMomX is speaking of Raleigh firms hiring, on occasion, from local schools such as Campbell, which is the equivalent of a DC office of a national firm hiring from Catholic. Acknowledging the strength of local alumni ties is different from saying that a national or strong regional firm (those paying $120K or more in starting salaries)makes a practice of hiring from 4th-tier schools. I beg to differ with your statement, though, that salaries are pegged to region rather than firm. Mid-atlantic firms, e.g., Philly and Wilmington, Delaware, don't tend to pay at the top of the scale like NYC and the top-tier DC firms. (Come on, already, with the state-school bashing - a graduate under 30 yrs. of age and in the top 5% of her class from the Universities of Michigan, Virginia or North Carolina will get offers from top- tier firms if she doesn't pick her nose during the interview).

The larger issue, IMHO, is: (1) whether a 56 year old (because she'd be at least that old if she applied right now to enter law school in the fall of '08) will "fit" within any firm culture, as a first-year associate, and (2) whether it makes any sense for a firm to invest in a 56-year old the cost of the initial 3-year training period it takes before the average associate is profitable instead of investing that training time in someone who is 27 and has a higher chance of recouping that investment.

For what it's worth, I was in my late thirties when I graduated from law school and experienced age bias during the hiring process. Law school hiring is a somewhat transparent process because you know the credentials of your peer group, you know which colleagues are applying to be selected for on-campus interviews, and the interview list is posted publicly so you know who was selected. If 2 people get an interview, and you don't, and their credentials and regional ties are substantially less strong than yours, and your credentials are at least as strong as that firm's recent 3 years worth of associates, there's something else on your resume that was a turn-off. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Perhaps it age. Because I had recent law firm experience and other relevant, current business experience, I ultimately was able to overcome that bias. Without that recent experience, I doubt I'd have gotten an offer at any firm doing the sophisticated work I wanted to be doing, and that's the work that pays off those law school loans.

Short version: I wouldn't encourage anyone to go to law school at 52 unless they had cash to burn and didn't care how interesting the work is that they end up doing.

Posted by: MN | July 17, 2007 11:21 AM

DCer is crowing his own successes a little too loudly. Which makes me think they really aren't "all that". A huge success in his mind, but no one else's.

Not to mention having special needs children is a long, hard slog.

Anyone else remember the book series about Karen, the young woman who had cerebral palsy? I think the last book published covered her late teens, early 20's, she'd gotten involved with Newfoundlands.

I found her mother's writing too treacly and Karen a little irritatingly too perfect. In fact, I was thrilled the first time it was recorded that Karen was a mouthy obnoxious adolescent and got slapped. Over the moon, in fact. Until that moment, I loathed Karen. I never did warm to her (as written), but at least she felt human after that incident.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 11:23 AM

"She has given motivational speeches, written a monthly column for an arthritis Web site, and has written an unpublished book on juvenile arthritis."

Not much to show for 20 years for someone who wants to be a writer...

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 11:21 AM

What, pray tell, have you given the world?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 11:24 AM

I second those who suggest updating technology skills in a way that puts that effort and updated skillset front and center on Karen's resume. That, and a makeover.

If you look like my grandma in the interview, I'm less likely to see you as a professional colleague with current skills and energy. Ditch the Talbot's dresses and sensible shoes. Exhibit some style and some life. No one cares about crows' feet when they are displayed by Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 11:29 AM

TO MN: *clap, clap, clap*

But when it comes to states schools, please don't forget the University of California system!

Posted by: Old Blue in Exile | July 17, 2007 11:30 AM

"Everyone should have two jobs or at least have a spouse with two jobs."

If you have the energy, drive, ambition, willingness and time for two jobs, more power to you. It explains why you think that Karen must not really want a job. You apparently think that everyone should be just like you and have the same wants and needs.

Posted by: to DCer | July 17, 2007 11:34 AM

"Everyone should have two jobs or at least have a spouse with two jobs."

Where's the balance for family time under this scheme?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 11:37 AM

"If you look like my grandma in the interview, I'm less likely to see you as a professional colleague with current skills and energy. Ditch the Talbot's dresses and sensible shoes. Exhibit some style and some life. No one cares about crows' feet when they are displayed by Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada."

Look good and have a cover page titled "Style over Substance". What great advice.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 11:37 AM

I am so sorry for the frustration you are experiencing-- I can only imagine what you are going through.
I would echo others' suggestions: make an investment in yourself. Start with hiring a career coach who offers the services of a resume rewrite, interview coaching, and who will look over all of your experience and help you identify gaps. Perhaps there is a certificate course or something you could take to become more current in your field. I think if you work with a professional coach, you will see results. Plus, you are probably starting to get down on yourself and a career coach will help you to see things objectively and positively. Good luck!

Posted by: Rockville, Maryland | July 17, 2007 11:40 AM

"My son just got a job as a paralegal/legal assistant. He graduated with a degree in liberal arts in May. It pays about $30K."

"With my son we said, "take it." Getting started is the most important thing. We will subsidize his auto insurance/car for awhile to help him along."

Your son is a college graduate with his first real job. That means that he is an adult. Why on earth are you still subsidizing him?

Posted by: to Rose G | July 17, 2007 11:41 AM

«Everyone should have two jobs or at least have a spouse with two jobs.»

«Posted by: DCer | July 17, 2007 10:54 AM»

Or a job and two spouses. One spouse also has job. Other one balances family, home, children.

Posted by: abu ibrahim | July 17, 2007 11:43 AM

Karen,

I would guess that you don't have excessive piercings and visible tatoos. If you do, try removing piercings and covering tatoos.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 11:44 AM

Look good and have a cover page titled "Style over Substance". What great advice.


Posted by: | July 17, 2007 11:37 AM

Silly me. I thought Karen's goal was to get hired, not to be righteously unemployed. If you have better advice, why not post it instead of wasting time criticizing those solving the problem?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 11:50 AM

"I am strong and tenacious and hope that somehow that translates into a job that reflects what I can do rather than the professional workplace's judgment (one might say condemnation) of how I've spent the last 20 years of my life."

I think that this says a lot. Condemnation? Nope--that implies that someone cares enough to condemn. This isn't personal, it's business. Employers want to be assured that she can contribute to the business and apparently the way she's selling herself isn't doing that.

As someone whose job has involved writing in one way or another for 15 years, I strongly recommend that Karen focus. I wouldn't hire someone who wanted to write. I would hire someone who wanted to do documentation, case studies, marketing materials, or articles on subjects for which they were a subject matter expert. I can't evaluate whether someone is suitable for a writing job unless I know what they want to do.

So yeah--cover the basics and make sure that your school is up to date. Use any connections you've got through the writing or speaking. I can't believe you don't have anyone at all willing to speak for you. And tell people what you want to do... and expect a beginning writing gig to not pay very well. Or freelance, get paid more, but get no benefits. If you freelance, I would avoid the temptation to write mushy personal-experience essays. Too many people write those. If you can convey your specialized knowledge with a personal touch, you are better off.

Posted by: Gay mom to be | July 17, 2007 11:50 AM

That's what I would have found online if Karen came to me and I was interested enough to give it a try:

-- by the time one of her children (her son) suddenly developed an arthritis, he was 11-12 years old. No atempts to get a job before that? Her daughter was a freshman in high school and healthy, so maybe she developed it later, no data on that.

Takes about 3 min to Google her.

===========================================
A Place for Siblings to Share Their Lot


Mary Amoroso
13 January 2002
The Record, Bergen County, N.J

It is a fact of life that parents of a chronically ill child need to devote the bulk of their emotional, physical, and financial resources to the care and development of that child.

It creates a skewed dynamic when there are other siblings in the family. Those siblings either learn to accept it (and not overburden Mom and Dad with their less exotic problems) or they act out, to try to reclaim some attention.

Karen Bernstein has firsthand knowledge of the situation.

"It started a year ago last summer, but for months we didn't know what was going on," the Ramsey mother said. "My 12-year-old started having horrendous pains in his knees, his elbows, his knuckles, his jaw.

The doctor first said it was growing pains. But then he couldn't walk.

My husband and I were literally carrying him up and down stairs.

"My husband got on the phone with everybody he knew from college, from business. We were researching on the Internet."

In October they connected with a pediatric rheumatologist, who gave them a diagnosis: spondyloarothropathy, a form of arthritis.

But meanwhile, during this chaotic time of pain, disability, and frenzied investigation, their daughter Rebecca was starting freshman year of high school.

And, said her mother, "We all know what a wonderfully tough time that is."

Being a good girl, Rebecca didn't want to worry her parents at this difficult time. But she was having her own problems adjusting to a new school.

"I was just trying to work things out getting through freshman year," Rebecca said. "Maybe I just needed some time and maybe some attention from my parents."

Being a sensible girl, Rebecca went to her guidance counselor and the school's crisis intervention counselor. They urged her to talk to her parents, and she did.

"Things got a whole lot better," Rebecca said.

But Rebecca had been on the Internet herself. She was very impressed by a humorous and chatty site called "CreakyJoints" (www.creakyjoints.com), started by a college student with the aim of linking arthritis sufferers to resources, information, and connections with other sufferers. But she couldn't find a site that spoke to the siblings of youngsters with chronic illnesses.

And so, just a few months ago, she talked to her parents about starting a siblings site.

"My parents are the ultimate grandparents, and they thought it was a great idea," said Rebecca's mother. "Rebecca said to them, Instead of a Hanukkah present, would you give me some money to start my Web site? Meanwhile, I had a Web publisher program and, using that, Rebecca did it. She created her Web site."

The site is www.asiblingssite.com, which bills itself as "A Site for Kids by a Kid." Rebecca plans to do a monthly column, and so will her mom. The site also talks about how you can help your parents fight for the rights of a chronically ill sibling in school.

The site offers tips for getting to sporting events, museums, and vacations with a chronically ill sibling: "Having a chronically ill brother or sister can have an effect on vacations, school, and everyday activities. For example, with arthritis, before doing anything you have to worry about the weather, how many stairs there will be, handicapped parking availability, are wheelchairs available if needed, how far is it from home just in case they start to feel really sick, and this list goes on."

There's also a bulletin board for youngsters to post messages about family life with a chronic illness.

One young respondent wrote: "Sometimes I am so jealous of my sister. I don't want to be sick, and I really don't want her to be, but she gets so much attention, and it just doesn't seem fair. My parents have to spend so much time taking her to doctors. I try to be understanding when they can't drive me somewhere or when I have to cancel my plans, but it just doesn't seem fair. I don't feel as if I can tell them how I'm feeling, because I think they will think that I am not trying to understand the big picture. I just want them to know that I need some time, too."

Said Rebecca: "What I want this site to offer is a feeling of community, of people who completely understand what you're goingthrough. You can help each other and give each other advice."

(Copyright 2002 North Jersey Media Group Inc.)

Posted by: Hiring manager | July 17, 2007 11:51 AM

"No one cares about crows' feet when they are displayed by Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. "

Great flick! Streep was fantastic!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 11:51 AM

Some of the advice on this blog has been helpful, although I have noticed some petty bickering as well. I get the sense that Karen is searching for the right path. I would suggest that in addition to taking stock of network connections, brushing up technological skills, and improving her resume (all mentioned previously), she look into meeting up with people for information interviews. She can ask them all about the field and then honestly ask if they feel she could be a good fit. She will have a better chance of making sure she is applying to a field where her strengths will be valued. That being said, she will almost certainly have to start out in an entry level position, but if she is looking for a more challenging job, she needs to choose an employer who is open to and encourages upward mobility within the company.

Posted by: lca | July 17, 2007 11:52 AM

I'm sure ageism is a factor for you and that's a tough one. You definitely have an uphill battle.

I am returning to full-time work myself this month (my son is 2) with ambivalence, but I admit that one of the reasons is that I have been working on articles about women over 50 in the workplace and your struggle is very, very common.

It seems that under the age of say, 40 or 45, a gap in employment is much easier to surmount because there's only the one hurdle (gap in employment) and not the grey ceiling. The grey ceiling is complicated - it involves a lot of prejudice about energy levels and quality of ideas and training around technology, but also some hard stats around the cost of your benefits to your employer and the likelihood that you will need more days off.

The combination of the two really is serious for women.

That said, I agree with some of the advice here - you may want to take a lower-paying position for the experience and contacts, or you may want to pursue something more freelance or creative, where you are essentially your own boss and selling your own skills. You may also want to consider waiving benefits if that gives you a leg up into a firm.

Best of luck and I am sure you will find your way.

Posted by: Shandra | July 17, 2007 11:54 AM

Hiring manager makes a good point, indirectly. Most persons who interview you will take 30 seconds to Google you. What will they find? Does it tell the tale you want it to tell? It's not difficult to create a blog or work with those orgs who have published you in the past to enhance their meta tags. Your goal is to make sure that the first 6 hits on your name will reassure hiring professionals that you are the sort of person they want to hire -- productive, current, professional.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 11:55 AM

What about wearing a necklace with a cross pendant? I have a friend trying to get a job and she wears one-- about an inch long and bejewelled and beloved. She is religious, but she doesn't prostelitize others, but i don't think it is typical in the DC area to wear religious artcles to job interviews. I've tried to point out that DC is a conservative area and that she could be giving people the wrong idea about herself and thereby limiting job opportunities and developing friendships by wearing the cross, but she disagrees and thinks lots of people do this, even in DC. Are their hiring managers who would comment on this? She is new to DC and I don't think she really gets it that it's just more conservative about this stuff than other places.

Posted by: anonymous | July 17, 2007 11:55 AM

"If you look like my grandma in the interview, I'm less likely to see you as a professional colleague with current skills and energy. Ditch the Talbot's dresses and sensible shoes. Exhibit some style and some life. No one cares about crows' feet when they are displayed by Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada."

Of course she shouldn't look like grandma, but I wouldn't look to the 20-30 somethings who wear glorified flip-flops, tight blouses and low-rise trousers for fashion guidelines. Do these women think they're properly dressed for professional positions?

Posted by: lurker2 | July 17, 2007 11:58 AM

Why is it when women are looking for a job the first descriptor they use for the future job is "fulfilling". This requirement takes more than half the jobs off the table.

What makes people think they are entitled to a fulfilling job? Especially Karen, who hasn't had any job in the last 20 years. This is looking at the employment world with the expectation it will mold itself to your needs and desires. In the real world, employment is something you compete for, often with others that understand that they must prove themselves worthy to the employer, not the other way around. When you are away from a career for 20 years, regardless of the reason, you no longer have a career.

I am sure if Karen had to get a job to eat, she would have found one by now. The fact is that she feels ready to return to the working world (as if she never left it)and is upset it hasn't been sitting there waiting for her.

Posted by: davils advocate | July 17, 2007 11:59 AM

Why would someone be offended by a cross.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 11:59 AM

I can't imagine why anyone would wear a cross pendant to an interview -- whether in DC or anywhere else -- or disclose sexual preference, marital status, location of upbringing, favorite bars, upcoming wedding plans, upcoming travel plans, the fact that your mother just won the lottery, or anything else that might be a knock-out factor for that interviewer.

Interview are an opportunity to do no harm, not reveal your soul.

Posted by: MN | July 17, 2007 12:00 PM

If you have the energy, drive, ambition, willingness and time for two jobs, more power to you. It explains why you think that Karen must not really want a job. You apparently think that everyone should be just like you and have the same wants and needs.

----

yes that's it, I think everyone should be like me! Come on, you can do better analysis than that, right? Of course I don't think everyone should be like me, but I believe 100% that the era of one job is over.

It's not ME who is saying this, it's the gas stations charging $3.10 per gallon, it's the $700k house, it's the $25k car, it's the $1500 per month daycare...

I know a couple who has a $3000 mortgage because their house was in the 400s. You tell me how someone can pay $3000 per month on only two jobs per couple. Explain the math.

If you don't have energy and drive then I suggest improving diet and exercise because I for one am not going out like that. Jack Lalane is still alive people.

Posted by: DCer | July 17, 2007 12:03 PM

Why would someone be offended by a cross.

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 11:59 AM

That's not the point. I wouldn't wear a flag pin, either.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:06 PM

I think it is hard for her to take it off because then it would be like she is denying who she really is-- and it is something that is an important part of her life. Sigh . . . it's hard to get across people make HUGE assumptions about who you are based on a 5 second glance at what you look like. They prejudge-- it is just a fact. Any books or advice columns I could suggest that would get this point across to her?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:08 PM

I am sure if Karen had to get a job to eat, she would have found one by now. The fact is that she feels ready to return to the working world (as if she never left it)and is upset it hasn't been sitting there waiting for her.

Posted by: davils advocate | July 17, 2007 11:59 AM

*claps* *cheers*

even for davils.

Posted by: MN | July 17, 2007 12:08 PM

Why would someone be offended by a cross.

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 11:59 AM

That's not the point. I wouldn't wear a flag pin, either.


Well, should muslims dress contrary to their beliefs? Should jews not wear their (hats)? I am not sure what they are called.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:09 PM

"What about wearing a necklace with a cross pendant? I have a friend trying to get a job and she wears one-- about an inch long and bejewelled and beloved."

I'm sure it's beloved, but maybe it's too gaudy. I wouldn't wear an inch-long jeweled labrys on a chain around my neck to job interviews, not unless I was applying to a job at a lesbian-feminist organization. Your friend may want to use the same rule and only wear her cross to an interview if applying for a job at a Christian organization.

Or she can get a smaller cross. I _do_ wear thumb rings. That's never been a problem.

Posted by: Gay mom to be | July 17, 2007 12:09 PM

"Why would someone be offended by a cross."

You can't figure it out?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:10 PM

Why would someone be offended by a cross.

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 11:59 AM

It could reasonably be construed as TMI, a message that the person is given to proseltyzing in the workplace.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:11 PM

"What I'm trying to say is that the era of a one-job life is over, long over, and if the government dismantles social security then we're really in trouble. Everyone should have two jobs or at least have a spouse with two jobs."

This is totally unrealistic and a little paranoid. How about follow basic financial planning (i.e. savings) and living within your means?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:11 PM

I'm 53 and am now juggling two writing-editing jobs, both unsolicited, both tendered from people I worked with in the past, both enjoyable, one very low-paid, one very high-paid. I am humbly grateful to have my abilities seen as worthwhile to others. Jobs are all about "what the boss wants," not "how much am I worth?" Same thing as the free market ... the customer is always right. Humility is still a virtue ... but meanwhile I try to stay completely up to date on computer skills, too.

Posted by: Mediaskeptic | July 17, 2007 12:13 PM

I haven't read all the comments...since she was home with the kids did she homeschool? Maybe she can get a job as a teachers aide or a subsitute teacher. How about a special needs teacher??

Just a thought...

Posted by: 2xmami | July 17, 2007 12:14 PM

"I know a couple who has a $3000 mortgage because their house was in the 400s. You tell me how someone can pay $3000 per month on only two jobs per couple. Explain the math."

My husband and I each have one job. Our joint monthly take home pay, after govt TSP and FSA is taken out, is $8500. We could afford a $3000 mortgage on just one job each (though we choose to rent at the moment).

Posted by: Hmm... | July 17, 2007 12:15 PM

Any books or advice columns I could suggest that would get this point across to her?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:08 PM

Why can't she just keep the cross inside her blouse while interviewing? SHE would still know she's wearing it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:15 PM

"I am sure if Karen had to get a job to eat, she would have found one by now. The fact is that she feels ready to return to the working world (as if she never left it)and is upset it hasn't been sitting there waiting for her."

Why would someone take a job that wasn't fulfilling if they didn't have to? It doesn't appear that she "has" to work, but would like to. Who wouldn't look for something that suited them.

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 17, 2007 12:15 PM

Come on, do you really think the reason she isn't getting work is the way she dresses or the fact that wears a cross to the interview?

The facts are; she is a 52 year old woman with 20 year old educational qualifications, no relevant work experience, who doesn't want to do anything physical, and "wants to write". Please, someone, anyone, name me a "fulfilling" job where she would be the most qualified applicant.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 12:17 PM

"I know a couple who has a $3000 mortgage because their house was in the 400s. You tell me how someone can pay $3000 per month on only two jobs per couple. Explain the math."

Eat in, not out. Only buy used cars. Cut back on retirement savings and plan to work longer. NO Starbucks - brew coffee at home. No movies out, limited cable service. No paid housecleaning, lawn service. Vacation only within driving distance. Stay at budget motels not fancy hotels. No designer clothes, shoes, handbags. Minimal jewelry. Do your own laundry as much as possible to limit drycleaning bills. (Some people actually do wash and iron their own shirts).

Rent a while longer or take a roommate to save enough money that the mortgage isn't $3000. There are people in this country who will never own their own home. Maybe not the American dream, but neither is working 2 jobs for your entire working career.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:18 PM

Moxiemom

"Why would someone take a job that wasn't fulfilling if they didn't have to? "

Dunno. I'll ask the hundreds of people in my office.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:19 PM

"Everyone should have two jobs or at least have a spouse with two jobs."

"I know a couple who has a $3000 mortgage because their house was in the 400s. You tell me how someone can pay $3000 per month on only two jobs per couple. Explain the math."

_____________________________

Um, because the one paycheck can cover the mortgage, expenses, savings, etc., all by itself without the need for a second job (or even an income from the spouse)?

Neither the math nor the logic is difficult. I'm guessing your self-proclaimed success isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Posted by: Math Whiz | July 17, 2007 12:21 PM

Why can't she just keep the cross inside her blouse while interviewing? SHE would still know she's wearing it.

Why don't people take off their turbons? What applies to other religions should also apply to Christians as well. Am I to assume that just because a muslim women wears one of those long flowing dresses that she is going to try and make me muslim?

Posted by: Just saying | July 17, 2007 12:21 PM

"Dunno. I'll ask the hundreds of people in my office."

So there are hundreds of people in your office who don't "have" to work and yet are working in unfulfilling positions? Guess they just like the cash.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:21 PM

if the government dismantles social security

If you'd stop voting for politicians who want to do that, it won't happen.

Posted by: To DCer | July 17, 2007 12:23 PM

devil's advocate,

where does it say she doesn't want to do anything physical? did I miss something?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:23 PM

Muslims aren't exhorted to proselytize the same way that Evangelicals are.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:24 PM

"I am sure if Karen had to get a job to eat, she would have found one by now. The fact is that she feels ready to return to the working world (as if she never left it)and is upset it hasn't been sitting there waiting for her."

Why would someone take a job that wasn't fulfilling if they didn't have to? It doesn't appear that she "has" to work, but would like to. Who wouldn't look for something that suited them.

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 17, 2007 12:15 PM

No, she doesn't "have to" work, her husband does. I am sure that not all of the twenty years he worked outside the home while she worked taking care of it were fulfilling. But he didn't quit because he wasn't being fulfilled by his job.

I admire her for trying to ease her husbands burden, but if she really wanted to help, a little sacrifice on her part (taking a less fulfilling enrty level job to get her foot in the door) would make it easier for her to actually do it.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 12:26 PM

"Why can't she just keep the cross inside her blouse while interviewing? SHE would still know she's wearing it.

Why don't people take off their turbons? What applies to other religions should also apply to Christians as well. Am I to assume that just because a muslim women wears one of those long flowing dresses that she is going to try and make me muslim?"

I don't know much about the muslim religion, but I was under the impression that the style of dress is required under the religion. Wearing a cross is not required by the Christian religions.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:28 PM

where does it say she doesn't want to do anything physical? did I miss something?

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 12:23 PM

Probably not, looks like I did though, it was in one of the comments above, so assumed it was in the original blog. My bad.

Still, that (if it were true ;)) is the least of the problems I listed.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:31 PM

Muslims aren't exhorted to proselytize the same way that Evangelicals are.

It doesn't matter, she should still be respected like they are.

And I know lots of Muslims who don't wear those dresses.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:32 PM

"What I'm trying to say is that the era of a one-job life is over, long over, and if the government dismantles social security then we're really in trouble. Everyone should have two jobs or at least have a spouse with two jobs."

Or you could simply work hard enough and smart enough to get a job that pays well enough to let you live the way you want - and then you live within your means.

If what you meant by "one-job life" is having one job with one company for your entire working life, then I'd agree with you that it's over. But if you're seriously asserting that everybody should have two jobs - four jobs per couple - then I think you're totally misguided.

(For the math-addled: if you ignore subprime mortgages/interest-only mortgages and other of the recent tricks, you're supposed to be able to afford up to 28% of your gross pay on a mortgage. $3000 per month is 28% of $10,715 per month, or about $128,575 per year. Yeah, that's a lot of money, but if two partners each make $65,000 per year you've got it covered. Still not cheap by any means - I'm not asserting that it is - but DC'ers assertion that it's unattainable is not realistic.)

Posted by: Army Brat | July 17, 2007 12:32 PM

Can't she give herself a motivational speech?

Posted by: Brain Free | July 17, 2007 12:34 PM

Christians are not required by their religion to wear a cross.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:35 PM

I admire her for trying to ease her husbands burden, but if she really wanted to help, a little sacrifice on her part (taking a less fulfilling enrty level job to get her foot in the door) would make it easier for her to actually do it.

Maybe her husband told her that he wanted her to find something she enjoyed after slogging along caring for sick kids for so long. Maybe he'd rather have a wife who comes home happy as opposed to grouchy because she worked at a job she hates? Some people actually want their spouse to happy as opposed to just earning as much as they can.

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 17, 2007 12:36 PM

What is a thumb ring? Is tha a gay thing?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:36 PM

Please, someone, anyone, name me a "fulfilling" job where she would be the most qualified applicant.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 12:17 PM

The new proprietress of the "On Balance" blog?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:36 PM

the reason why it is more risky to wear a cross rather than other religious articles is because Christians are more likely to prosleytize than others. doesn't mean all people that wear crosses do this- but, there is that assumption that people could jump to-- if someone is willing to wear a cross to an interview, they are more likely to pester other people about religious matters than someone who doesn't wear a religious article AND more likely to do that than any other relious faith.

Besides, it's not subtle. It's not like you can interpret a cross to mean something else. Like I didn't know that thumb rings are worn by lesbians! (thanks for the tip "gay mom to be"!) And I'm not even sure what a labrys is! I'm sooo out of the loop!

anyway, the reason that she can't cover up her cross is because she wears v-neck shirts.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback-- I wasn't sure if it was just something that I thought was problematic.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:38 PM

the reason that she can't cover up her cross is because she wears v-neck shirts.

If buying a high-necked shirt or two to wear to interviews will get her a job, that sounds like a wise investment.

Posted by: To anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:42 PM

Anonymous

"she can't cover up her cross is because she wears v-neck shirts."

Sounds like a sign that she's too inflexible to be hirable.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:44 PM

12:44 you are creepy!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:46 PM

"What is a thumb ring?"

Well, it's a ring, see? And you wear it--get this--on your thumb.

Not all lesbians wear them, just as not all Christians wear crosses. And anyone is allowed to buy and wear a thumb ring, obviously. But it's not a bad indicator of _some_ counterculture trait if you see a woman wearing a thumb ring.

Posted by: Gay mom to be | July 17, 2007 12:48 PM

Yeah, I second that 12:46. Just because her house is worth a lot doesn't mean she has a lot of money.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:50 PM

I admire her for trying to ease her husbands burden, but if she really wanted to help, a little sacrifice on her part (taking a less fulfilling enrty level job to get her foot in the door) would make it easier for her to actually do it.

Maybe her husband told her that he wanted her to find something she enjoyed after slogging along caring for sick kids for so long. Maybe he'd rather have a wife who comes home happy as opposed to grouchy because she worked at a job she hates? Some people actually want their spouse to happy as opposed to just earning as much as they can.

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 17, 2007 12:36 PM

Maybe some of those things are true, if I were her husband, they would all be true. But if that is the case, then the title of the blog should be "Finding a perfect fulfilling job after 20 years out of the workforce, with little or no qualifications, is hard"

At 52 years old, with no experience, that ship has sailed.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:50 PM

Muslims aren't exhorted to proselytize the same way that Evangelicals are.

You're right, they just behead you if you don't convert. Or blow up a bus of children. or stone you to death.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:51 PM

Look, this doesn't have anything do to with whether evangelicals proselytze: it's merely TMI.

Muslims, Jews, Christians - anyone can where whatever they like anywhere the want, of course. The question is, could this jewelry be an impediment to this candidate getting a job she wants? If the answer is yes, leave the jewelry off and at home.

Fundamentally, the question any applicant should ask is, what, if any, personal information about me is relevant to how well I will do this job and my qualifications? If personal information is not relevant to that question, don't offer it up unless asked by the interviewee, and then, be circumspect about the breadth of your response.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:51 PM

No, she doesn't "have to" work, her husband does. I am sure that not all of the twenty years he worked outside the home while she worked taking care of it were fulfilling. But he didn't quit because he wasn't being fulfilled by his job.

I admire her for trying to ease her husbands burden, but if she really wanted to help, a little sacrifice on her part (taking a less fulfilling enrty level job to get her foot in the door) would make it easier for her to actually do it.

Spot on, devil.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:52 PM


Any temptation I had of writing a column or using my real name just vanished by 12:44 creepy posting of Karen's real estate. It doesn't matter how easy it is to get the information yourself over the internet. Relaying the information is just creepy and over the line.

Washington Post - I ask you to remove 12:44's posting of Karen's real estate information.

Posted by: dotted | July 17, 2007 12:52 PM

No wonder f of 4 got the hell out of here

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:53 PM

For all you money savers out there, I just discovered the Red Box, a vending machine where you can use your credit card to rent videos for a dollar! Best money saver I've found in a long time. (THey are usually found in front of Harris Teeter for some reason.)

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:54 PM

dotted, I agree. Who has the time to look all of that up? Weird and scary, no pun intended.

Posted by: scarry | July 17, 2007 12:55 PM

Please, someone, anyone, name me a "fulfilling" job where she would be the most qualified applicant.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 12:17 PM

The new proprietress of the "On Balance" blog?

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 12:36 PM

No, but I thought by asking that question, it would point out the stupidity of thinking she is not being hired for any reason other than she is not (anywhere near) the most qualified person for the jobs she wants.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 12:55 PM

Maybe her husband told her that he wanted her to find something she enjoyed after slogging along caring for sick kids for so long. Maybe he'd rather have a wife who comes home happy as opposed to grouchy because she worked at a job she hates? Some people actually want their spouse to happy as opposed to just earning as much as they can.

Posted by: Moxiemom | July 17, 2007 12:36 PM

That's all great, Moxiemom, but since commencing work, I've been unemployed exactly twice. In each instance, the question about my next job wasn't whether it was fulfilling. My question has always been, can I beat this offer and can I beat it in a time-frame that makes rejecting this offer make sense. Fulfillment is all well and good, but it's not part of the analysis for any but the privileged few.

Isn't there something a bit ironic about people who would rather sit home and make $0 for months on end rather than work for less than what they consider to be their market value (realistic or not) but a great deal more than $0?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 12:59 PM

At age 60, my dad relocated across this country from Kansas to DC, has no college edcuation, and was in semi-retirement for five years. I love my dad, he is decent on a computer, but is the last guy you would want to have have writing or presenting anything--I think he last read a book in 1970 and never goes near the paper. His resumes are usually terrible, terrible. Yet after just a few months, he was able to find a managerial job making 70K and gets to travel to exotic locations for trade shows.

Maybe this is not a representative sample, but how he has always been able to get along is by being bold and being confident. People can pick out success, especially private sector companies, by how you carry yourself.

I don't think its age. I don't think it's being a woman. It must be bad personality. I know for a FACT that many, many retail stores or restaurants would take someone like her (assuming she really is not a psycho) and put her in their manager training program (my dad did this as well at some point in his ragged career), making 40K+ to start, and increasing quickly with bonuses and how you prove yourself.

Posted by: Joe | July 17, 2007 12:59 PM

No, but I thought by asking that question, it would point out the stupidity of thinking she is not being hired for any reason other than she is not (anywhere near) the most qualified person for the jobs she wants.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 12:55 PM

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!! Backfired on you, didn't it?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 1:01 PM

I don't think its age. I don't think it's being a woman. It must be bad personality. I know for a FACT that many, many retail stores or restaurants would take someone like her (assuming she really is not a psycho) and put her in their manager training program (my dad did this as well at some point in his ragged career), making 40K+ to start, and increasing quickly with bonuses and how you prove yourself.

Posted by: Joe | July 17, 2007 12:59 PM

Because a man was able to get a sales job, a woman seeking a professional job must have a bad personality. Sheesh. She's not seeking to be a Wal-Mart greeter, either, and that doesn't mean she's being snobby.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 1:03 PM

Actually, tax and property records are in the public realm of information, and most places have it online and available to anyone who wants to look at it. All you have to do is know the area someone lives and their name, and if it's online you'll have all that data.

Not saying that posting it on a public forum is a good thing, just that it has always been available. The difference in the past was that you had to go to the tax office and request to look it up and pay a fee for a copy. Now anyone can do it from a computer 2000 miles away.

Posted by: John L | July 17, 2007 1:03 PM

Moxiemom

"Maybe her husband told her that he wanted her to find something she enjoyed after slogging along caring for sick kids for so long. "

You're kidding! Her husband calls the shots!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 1:03 PM

"Welcome to the "On Balance" guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life."

Please also be prepared to have stalkers look up your personal information and post it for the world to see. So if you like being attacked and having your private info available, have we got a deal for you!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 1:04 PM

No, but I thought by asking that question, it would point out the stupidity of thinking she is not being hired for any reason other than she is not (anywhere near) the most qualified person for the jobs she wants.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 12:55 PM

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!! Backfired on you, didn't it?

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 01:01 PM

Not sure backfired is the right word, but let me say, the responses met my expectations perfectly. ;)

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 1:06 PM

Stalker is different from nosy and bored. It's already available online for the world to see now.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 1:07 PM

No one besides you gives a tiny rats a$s about your expectations

Posted by: To devils advocate | July 17, 2007 1:10 PM

At age 60, my dad relocated across this country from Kansas to DC, has no college edcuation, and was in semi-retirement for five years.

-Joe

So, in other words, my dad, with a 40 year work history was able to find a job. First, he is lucky (ageism is real) and second this is nothing like Karen's situation. I am sure you dad knows how to play the game, and knows that attitude is important.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 1:12 PM

I think her choice of field -- writing -- is probably more to blame. It's tough to get work, particularly without a good stable of clips. It sounds like she's written a few things, but she really needs to build up a strong portfolio. Unfortunately, the best way to do that is to take unpaid assignments. Write for your community paper, local newsletters, online organizations, etc. Write as much as you can and get feedback. Once you've built up your clips, people will start to give you a longer look. But even then, it's a pretty low-paying profession. Only the rock star journalists make a really good living.

Posted by: Alexandria | July 17, 2007 1:12 PM

No one besides you gives a tiny rats a$s about your expectations

Posted by: To devils advocate | July 17, 2007 01:10 PM

Now that was useful. Have anything to say on the topic at hand? or would a can of spray-paint and a wall be sufficient for your purposes?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 1:13 PM

No one besides you gives a tiny rats a$s about your expectations

Posted by: To devils advocate | July 17, 2007 01:10 PM

Like I care. Just trying to add to the conversation, unlike you.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 1:14 PM

John L - I am well aware of what public information is so easily available. As I said, it doesn't matter how easy information is to get. The issue is reposting the information itself. It is creepy and--I'll go ahead and be judgemental--wrong.

Posted by: dotted | July 17, 2007 1:17 PM

Devils advocate, you're just a pompous windbag. Wake up and face facts.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 1:19 PM

Karen,

As a fairly recent college graduate, I understand your job-search frustration, although from the other end of the "ageism" spectrum! No matter how you go about it, searching for a job is a tedious, pain-staking process that can turn absolutely demoralizing the longer it goes on.

I do know, however, that you CAN overcome your resume gap. My mother, after taking almost 22 years off of work to raise three children (and all of us were healthy--and it was STILL tough for her, so I can't imagine what these last two decades have been like for you) went back to work about three years ago. Like so many others have suggested on this blog, she went back and updated her degree (she has a CPA and much had changed over the 20 years she was at home), contacted her old co-workers, talked to people with whom she volunteered, updated her wardrobe (sad, but true, appearances do count) and generally did not discount a single job she came across. She now works in a small accounting firm which, while it does not provide great pay, does provide benefits--which was incredibly important while my father was temporarily out of work and unable to provide family health insurance, flexible hours and a way for her to update her skills/resume. Her role as a mother has actually been helpful for her, too, as my siblings and I have all volunteered to help out in the office during crunch time, to assist with small things like filing or organizing. Her firm has really grown to count on her as she is incredibly meticulous, friendly and always willing to help.

On the other side, I think she must have felt no small amount of frustration that she has had to return to a non-salaried job and had to work her way up in such a tiny office (making coffee and such at first), where as she was once on the "fast track" at the biggest accounting firm in the country. Any way you cut it though, this experience will only help her if she wants to return to a bigger firm some at point down the line.

I think what I'm trying to say is that these are the things that will help you succeed (and you may already be doing them). Keep current in your field--update your paralegal certificate and take typing/Microsoft classes for sure, as even if you don't choose to return to the legal world, this will benefit you. Writing is an incredibly broad and incredibly difficult field to break into--use your personal experience and submit niche articles to those journals that keep up in the juvenile arthritis world. Even volunteer your time in one of these offices, think of it as an "internship" and make contacts that way. People are much more willing to help you when 1) you've paid your dues and 2) they have a face to attach to a resume.

Good luck, and I'm sorry to have reiterated anything you already knew.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 1:20 PM

I second "dotted"--someone needs to start monitoring this blog & remove 12:44's post.

Posted by: 12:44 is a psycho | July 17, 2007 1:26 PM

Now don't laugh too hard here, but I fondly remember those days back in 1985 when we darpanet users--those first internet users--used and believed in the reasonable person principle. By the way, this is in reference to the ugly, and a rpp violation, reposting of real estate information.

Posted by: dotted | July 17, 2007 1:31 PM

"If you look like my grandma in the interview, I'm less likely to see you as a professional colleague with current skills and energy. Ditch the Talbot's dresses and sensible shoes. Exhibit some style and some life. No one cares about crows' feet when they are displayed by Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada."

Of course she shouldn't look like grandma, but I wouldn't look to the 20-30 somethings who wear glorified flip-flops, tight blouses and low-rise trousers for fashion guidelines. Do these women think they're properly dressed for professional positions?

Posted by: lurker2 | July 17, 2007 11:58 AM
*******************************************

Amen, lurker2. I had an appointment at a temp agency in downtown D.C. a few weeks back. The young woman (in her early thirties, I'd say) conducting the interview was wearing four-inch spiked pumps, hip-hugger khaki bell-botttoms and a white shirt buttoned down to her cleavage. She explained to me that it was "casual Friday".

If I'd been the one interviewing her, she wouldn't have gotten the job.

Posted by: Been There | July 17, 2007 1:34 PM

Sale Price: $188,000.00

Consideration: FULL

Deed Type: GRANT DEED

Type of Sale: RESALE

Mortgage Amount: $107,700.00

So the fact that her house is currently worth a great deal more completely undercuts DCers argument that OF COURSE she married a millionaire--look where she's living!

They bought it before the market shot up. THEY agreed that SHE would be the SAHP. She doesn't say that she hasn't worked at all, she said, "What jobs I've found and taken in the past two years are part-time work with no benefits. The work is unfulfilling and monetarily insignificant."

She wants to contribute more money to the family. She would like to have a job that doesn't give her heartburn.

I think there have been a lot of good suggestions made here, amidst the dreck.

But you know what I wonder? I wonder whether in 20 years time, any gentlemen who opted to be out of the paid workforce in order to be a full-time SAHD, will have the same problems re-entering the workforce. Or if they will be to such a degree.

Meanwhile, Karen, brush up on your certifications (that goes for you too, Matt in Aberdeen [he seems to believe that he shouldn't have to compete or prove himself anymore--he got his]), qualifications and maybe ask the HR departments for frank feedback as to why you didn't get the interview, or the follow-up interview, or the job.

Best wishes to you and your family.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 1:35 PM

dotted - I'm with you for two reasons - one, Karen's tax information doesn't have anything to do with the topic at hand, and, two, while the info is publicly available, like birth information and home phone numbers, unless blocked, there's no good that can be gained from posting it here and much to discourage good bloggers from offering their columns.

Posted by: MN | July 17, 2007 1:37 PM

I just reread the blog, and I have issues with several things she says. (I know "To devils advocate | July 17, 2007 01:10 PM" doesnt't care, but I don't care what she thinks)

Karen - "It doesn't seem to matter that I have a college degree, a post-graduate paralegal certificate and a strong professional employment history."

The truth is, her college degree was earned when the internet didn't exist and is of little value now without experience to back it up. The same with the paralegal cert.., it is 25 years old, is it even still valid? She has no current professional employment history (the last time she worked, Reagan was president), so I don't know what she thinks falls under that statement.

Karen - "But the truth is, there was never a real gap".

This is just 100% wrong. I know she feels this way, but the fact is she has not worked outside of her own home for 20 years. It IS a 20 year gap to the rest of the world.

Karen - "I have never believed you can have it all and have never asked for it all. All I want is the dignity of a job that pays a livable salary and provides benefits. I am strong and tenacious and hope that somehow that translates into a job that reflects what I can do rather than the professional workplace's judgment (one might say condemnation) of how I've spent the last 20 years of my life."

This whole paragraph is a contradiction. She wants a fulfilling job that pays a living wage and provides benfits. To some people that is having it all. She "hopes that somehow" she will get one. Life and employment aren't that simple, she has made no effort (that we know of) to update her skills, renew the paralegal cert or do anything that requires effort other than interview. If any of you were in this situation, would you expect anything different?

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 1:39 PM

dotted - I agree with you - while strictly speaking the real estate posting was "legal", it wasn't appropriate behavior. But that's unfortunately what the net/world has come to.

FWIW, Maryland's property tax database is no longer searchable by name. Too many people were searching for "Cal Ripken", "Peter Angelos", etc.

If you know the address - and it really only takes a street name - you can still find the record, which is why a number of more famous people now have their house owned by an innocuous-sounding corporation or partnership rather than in their own names.


FWIW - in 1985 it was already the "ARPA Internet"; the original network was split in 1983. (Spoken as a user since 1981. :-)

Posted by: Army Brat | July 17, 2007 1:40 PM

Posting someone's real estate information on a blog is just wrong. Why would you do this?

Posted by: KBJ | July 17, 2007 1:42 PM

amidst the d***k

Wash your mouth out with soap!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 1:42 PM

300 words or fewer) for consideration.

"she has made no effort (that we know of) to..."

In 300 words or less, tell us all about your life of the past 20 years and why you should be hired for any job at all.

Give us your full name, too.

Posted by: to Devil's Advocate | July 17, 2007 1:42 PM

dreck
NOUN: Slang Trash, especially inferior merchandise.
ETYMOLOGY: German, dirt, trash and Yiddish drek, excrement, both from Middle High German drec, from Old High German. See sker-3 in Appendix I.
OTHER FORMS: drecky --ADJECTIVE

Posted by: to 1:42 p.m. | July 17, 2007 1:46 PM

her college degree was earned when the internet didn't exist and is of little value now without experience to back it up

Nonsense. Her college degree taught her to write well, and to think critically. Her brain didn't atrophy while she was SAH.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 1:46 PM

Army Brat - those were the days! You are right...my fudgy brain (or should I blame my fingers?) confused darpa/arpa amidst the information sink known as 1st year and 2nd year engineering grad school! Remember unix 'talk'?

Posted by: dotted | July 17, 2007 1:47 PM

"Her role as a mother has actually been helpful for her, too, as my siblings and I have all volunteered to help out in the office during crunch time, to assist with small things like filing or organizing."

Does anyone else think that it is completely weird to have your children come to the office and help with your job?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 1:47 PM

This blog kind of reminds me of a joke I read a while ago. Not the same situation, but the same mindset.


A guy walked into the local welfare office to pick up his check.

He marched straight up to the counter and said, "Hi. You know, I just HATE drawing welfare. I'd really rather have a job."

The social worker behind the counter said, "Your timing is excellent. We just got a job opening from a very wealthy old man who wants a chauffeur and bodyguard for his beautiful daughter. You'll have to drive around in his Mercedes, and he'll supply all of your clothes. Because of the long hours, meals will be provided. You'll be expected to escort the daughter on her overseas holiday trips and you will have to satisfy her sexual urges. You'll be provided a two-bedroom apartment above the garage. The salary is $200,000 a year."

The guy, wide-eyed, said, "You're kidding me!"

The social worker said, "Yeah, well . . . . you started it."

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 1:47 PM

dreck = excrement, but a crude version of the term

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 1:49 PM

Does anyone else think that it is completely weird to have your children come to the office and help with your job?

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 01:47 PM

No. Been to many dry cleaners, ever? Or any sort of newly formed business?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 1:49 PM

dreck = excrement, but a crude version of the term

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 01:49 PM

No, that is one definition of the word. The other one is trash, and inferior merchandise. Get your mind out of the open-air sewer.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 1:51 PM

"Does anyone else think that it is completely weird to have your children come to the office and help with your job?

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 01:47 PM

No. Been to many dry cleaners, ever? Or any sort of newly formed business?"

It's not her business. She is working for someone else.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 1:52 PM

"she has made no effort (that we know of) to..."

In 300 words or less, tell us all about your life of the past 20 years and why you should be hired for any job at all.

Give us your full name, too.

Posted by: to Devil's Advocate | July 17, 2007 01:42 PM

I have made the same statement you have about word count on many other occasions. But in this instance (a blog about finding a job), I assume, since she didn't mention ANYTHING about updating her skills/qualifications, (which I think is extremely relevant to the topic at hand), that there was no effort to do so.

If she has done something to update her skills and left it out (regardless of word count), that would lead me to believe that she is not the best writer either.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 1:58 PM

I know lots of writers who make a good living. It depends on what you are writing.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 1:59 PM

I do a lot of hiring in my position, and to me it doesn't sound like your age is the problem. It's the 20 year gap in workplace experience. All of the experience you describe (charity work, running your husband's home business, etc.) sounds great, and it's definitely a reason to consider you for employment. However, I wouldn't bring you in at a high salary. In a sense you're starting over -- not entirely, but just a bit. You might have to take a pay cut to get into a job. Your employer might find that your skills are valuable and you might advance quickly.

But I don't think it's reasonable to take a 20 year break from the workforce and expect the be paid the same as people who worked in a business/office environment for those 20 years.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:00 PM

I think you need to revamp your credentials. Get a brand-new MA, a teaching certificate, or a MLS. It's very hard to get a job with no recent employment OR educational experience. Good luck!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:01 PM

But in this instance (a blog about finding a job), I assume, since she didn't mention ANYTHING about updating her skills/qualifications, (which I think is extremely relevant to the topic at hand), that there was no effort to do so.

If she has done something to update her skills and left it out (regardless of word count), that would lead me to believe that she is not the best writer either.

No, this is a blog about balance. She is also writing about trying to find a full-time job. She isn't submitting a job application to the world at large. She isn't required to tell us about her current credentials.

Why not try reading some of her writings before you pass judgment upon her writing skill too.

AND tell us your full name so we can look you up. It's publicly available.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:03 PM

Leo Rosten, in his authoritative "The Joys of Yiddish," says he "would not recommend your using [it] in front of [his] mother, let alone yours, any more than [he] would approve of your using the sibilant four-letter English word for excrement.

"...I do not approve of careless usage: Both English and Yiddish have a rich enough vocabulary of disparagement. To say d***k, save in extreme cases, is d***ish. Better stick with chozzerai."

Posted by: To 1:51 re d***k | July 17, 2007 2:03 PM

Language changes through time and this is the meaning that dreck has in English.

Main Entry: waste
Part of Speech: noun 3
Definition: garbage
Synonyms: debris, dreck, dregs, dross, excess, hogwash*, junk, leavings, leftovers, litter, offal, offscourings, refuse, rubbish, rubble, ruins, rummage, scrap, slop, sweepings, swill, trash
Antonyms: possessions
Notes: wastage is loss through use such as wear, leakage, or decay; the gradual process of wasting; or an amount that is wasted -- while waste is loss through carelessness, inefficiency, or ignorance or another word for garbage or rubbish
Source: Roget's New Millenniumâ„¢ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.3.1)
Copyright © 2007 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.
* = informal or slang

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:08 PM

Hello from Cocoa Beach!

(Mostly) good discussion here today, everyone.

Liked the point that Karen should think of herself as fresh out of college -- $30K doesn't look so bad from that perspective. Also agree that once she has her foot in the door she can use her work ethic and maturity to move up quickly.

Also found the idea that Karen turn her personal experience into $$$ an excellent one. She could market herself as a private aide/babysitter/nanny for special needs kids in NYC or northern NJ and probably make a bundle.

Posted by: Leslie | July 17, 2007 2:08 PM

"It's not ME who is saying this, it's the gas stations charging $3.10 per gallon, it's the $700k house, it's the $25k car, it's the $1500 per month daycare...

I know a couple who has a $3000 mortgage because their house was in the 400s. You tell me how someone can pay $3000 per month on only two jobs per couple. Explain the math."

So don't buy such an expensive house if you can't afford it. And you can get a reliable used car for much less than $25k.

Why do you think there are a record number of foreclosures right now? Because people over-extended themselves instead of buying what they could comfortably afford.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:10 PM

this is the meaning that dreck has in English.

No, it's the meaning that "waste" has in English.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:10 PM

Also found the idea that Karen turn her personal experience into $$$ an excellent one. She could market herself as a private aide/babysitter/nanny for special needs kids in NYC or northern NJ and probably make a bundle.

Particularly as she could then write a tell-all book about her employers (changing the names enough to prevent a lawsuit) and earn more money still.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:11 PM

I know lots of writers who make a good living. It depends on what you are writing.

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 01:59 PM

whenever someone says that she knows "lots of" X who make a good living, you know two things. She knows one single solitary person who makes what she considers a good living, and she has no idea what amount that single person earns.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:12 PM

this is the meaning that dreck has in English.

No, it's the meaning that "waste" has in English.

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 02:10 PM

Synonym.

syn·o·nym (sĭn'ə-nĭm')
n.
A word having the same or nearly the same meaning as another word or other words in a language.
A word or an expression that serves as a figurative or symbolic substitute for another.
Biology. A scientific name of an organism or of a taxonomic group that has been superseded by another name at the same rank.
[Middle English sinonyme, from Old French synonyme, from Latin synōnymum, from Greek sunōnumon, from neuter of sunōnumos, synonymous. See synonymous.]

synonymic syn'o·nym'ic or syn'o·nym'i·cal adj.
synonymity syn'o·nym'i·ty n.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:13 PM

No, this is a blog about balance. She is also writing about trying to find a full-time job. She isn't submitting a job application to the world at large. She isn't required to tell us about her current credentials.

Why not try reading some of her writings before you pass judgment upon her writing skill too.

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 02:03 PM

This blog's general topic is balance. This particular blog was titled "52 and Used Up" and began with the three sentences:

"At 52, I am too young to be used up. But it appears that employers see it differently. I have been searching for fulfilling full-time employment for more than two years."

She then goes on to explain why this is hard and makes the point several times about her qualifications. It would have improved her argument to include the newer qualifications in addition to the older ones.

So, in my opinion, either she has done nothing to update them or is a mediocre writer because she left out a very important point that would have made her blog more convincing. (I believe the first is true, because she seems to write very well)

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 2:15 PM

debris, dreck, dregs, dross, excess, hogwash*, junk, leavings, leftovers, litter, offal, offscourings, refuse, rubbish, rubble, ruins, rummage, scrap, slop, sweepings, swill, trash

These are re not all synonyms for one another. "Waste" can have many nuanced different meanings.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:16 PM

Whistling a new tune?

If she has done something to update her skills and left it out (regardless of word count), that would lead me to believe that she is not the best writer either.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 01:58 PM

So, in my opinion, either she has done nothing to update them or is a mediocre writer because she left out a very important point that would have made her blog more convincing. (I believe the first is true, because she seems to write very well)

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 02:15 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:17 PM

So, in my opinion, either she has done nothing to update them or is a mediocre writer because she left out a very important point that would have made her blog more convincing. (I believe the first is true, because she seems to write very well)

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 02:15 PM

Get a life, or do your job. You've already posted 10 times that we know of today. At the present rate you could set a one-day record here, which is nothing to be proud of.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:20 PM

amidst the d***k

Wash your mouth out with soap!

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 01:42 PM

just knowing that someone is this worked up about the use of a rather innocuous word like dreck (how do you feel about "offal" as an alternative) makes me want to insert it into a post per day for the next week and give 1:42 a stroke. It must be a difficult life for someone whose ears are this sensitive and whose personality is so controlling.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:25 PM

Get a life, or do your job. You've already posted 10 times that we know of today. At the present rate you could set a one-day record here, which is nothing to be proud of.

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 02:20 PM

Blog Stats, is that you?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:27 PM

I understand that real estate and tax information is a matter of public record, but I think this has gone too far posting her info. For one, we don't know anyone else's real names on this blog, so it's mighty unfair to be picking at her information like that. Unless you all want to pick at one another's...

And two, you have no idea what her other financial factors are, just looking at said real estate record doesn't provide the full picture. And well, it shouldn't. People are wacked enough to do crazy things to people they know. So let's keep this guest at arm's length and provide personal anecdotal information coming. But keep the other stuff out of it.

Posted by: JRS | July 17, 2007 2:29 PM

Get a life, or do your job. You've already posted 10 times that we know of today. At the present rate you could set a one-day record here, which is nothing to be proud of.

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 02:20 PM

And you have answered everyone.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:30 PM

d***k = sh*t, but with an "I" instead of the asterisk.

The Post would remove your message if it contained the word sh*t, but with an "I" instead of the asterisk. If you would use a synonym for sh*t, then it reflects on your boorishness. Your mother would be so proud.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:31 PM

The record for daily posting is something like 29 or 30 times.

(this does not include the "timestamp" entries)

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:33 PM

Why hasn't Karen posted yet to defend herself?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:33 PM

Whistling a new tune?

If she has done something to update her skills and left it out (regardless of word count), that would lead me to believe that she is not the best writer either.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 01:58 PM

So, in my opinion, either she has done nothing to update them or is a mediocre writer because she left out a very important point that would have made her blog more convincing. (I believe the first is true, because she seems to write very well)

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 02:15 PM

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 02:17 PM

Since you pulled the first quote without the previous paragraph, it certainly looks that way now.

But, no the same tune, dumbed down for the stupid.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 2:33 PM

And you have answered everyone.

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 02:30 PM

No. I've only answered part of them. Other people have answered others. Go away.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:34 PM

I'm pleased to see such a relatively obscure word used here at all.

If "putz" could be used on prime-time television (M*A*S*H), then the use of "dreck" will hardly stop the world from spinning.

For today's writer, it's all about demonstrating current skills and credentials. Getting some certifications through a local community college would help. I'd also ask people for information on why they didn't hire you. Hopefully they'll be forthcoming, and it won't be an age thing. Not that they'd admit to it even if it is age discrimination. Still, can't hurt to ask.

Good luck with the search.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | July 17, 2007 2:37 PM

Since you pulled the first quote without the previous paragraph, it certainly looks that way now.

Touchy much?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:37 PM

No. I've only answered part of them. Other people have answered others. Go away.

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 02:34 PM

You first. At least I am trying to stay on topic. If you don't like my writing, you are free to ignore me, just like I will be doing to you from now on.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 2:37 PM

just like I will be doing

Nope, just as I will be doing

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:40 PM

Nope, just as I will be doing

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 02:40 PM

You too? We'll both be happy now.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:42 PM

For those of us who don't know Yiddish, dreck is a completely innocuous word.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:42 PM

Well, at least pATRICK could be entertaining (and infuriating) unlike you bores of the last few posts. "I'm going to tell my mommy that you are being mean to me!"

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:44 PM

I agree it was wrong to post the real estate. But since it was posted, I would like to comment. While true that the house is worth a lot now because it has gone up in value and it was a lot less when they bought it, it is also true that it was a relatively expensive house for the market at the time they bought it.

Housing prices were lower years ago, but so were salaries, and interest rates were much higher. You can't just compare the value of the house then and now. You have to look at the whole picture.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:46 PM

Geez, has this become devil's advocate's personal blog?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:49 PM

I like devil's advocate - sometimes thought-provoking and sometimes not, but always interesting.

Posted by: xyz | July 17, 2007 2:52 PM

For those of us who don't know Yiddish, d***k is a completely innocuous word.

If you don't know Yiddish, then you can't know that it's a vulgar term, can you?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:52 PM

Well, at least pATRICK could be entertaining (and infuriating) unlike you bores of the last few posts. "I'm going to tell my mommy that you are being mean to me!"

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 02:44 PM

And yet you feel the need to add to the boredom.

Sorry to let you down, I'll stop for the day. Bye.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 2:54 PM

"If you don't know Yiddish, then you can't know that it's a vulgar term, can you?"

I learned that it was vulgar on this blog. But it's only vulgar in Yiddish, it's usage by the general public has evolved so that it is not vulgar but is only a synonym for trash, garbage, etc.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:56 PM

usage by the general public has evolved so that it is not vulgar

In your dreams.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:58 PM

"If you don't know Yiddish, then you can't know that it's a vulgar term, can you?"

I learned that it was vulgar on this blog. But it's only vulgar in Yiddish, it's usage by the general public has evolved so that it is not vulgar but is only a synonym for trash, garbage, etc.

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 02:56 PM

My freakin' ears!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:59 PM

"If you don't like my writing, you are free to ignore me, just like I will be doing to you from now on."

Sounds like a good plan. Freeze out the bores!

Posted by: Guns 'n Roses | July 17, 2007 3:03 PM

Who has the time to look all of that up? Weird and scary, no pun intended.
Posted by: scarry | July 17, 2007 12:55 PM


It's not time. It's technological talent.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:04 PM

dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck

hahahahahahahaha!!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:08 PM

usage by the general public has evolved so that it is not vulgar

In your dreams.

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 02:58 PM

Note to America:

Yiddish is now your primary language. Dreck is now a potent swear-word. Please use freely on your elders.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:10 PM

Someone mentioned the functional resume. Be careful of that format. Not everyone will recognize it - they will see it as just a badly formatted resume. Others will immediately look for what you are trying to conceal by using that format.

Posted by: 54 and working | July 17, 2007 3:10 PM

That's so mature.

Posted by: To 3:08 | July 17, 2007 3:11 PM

dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck,
dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck,
dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck, dreck

It is mature to oppose censorship of every silly little word the use of which is not to someone's liking. Immature is letting steam come out of your ears over a word and not an idea. Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:18 PM

That's so mature.

Posted by: To 3:08 | July 17, 2007 03:11 PM

So is posting the writer's home address and current assessed value of the writer's home.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:18 PM

So have the id10ts on this blog who maintain that they can spill all the personal information they want without repercussion actually learned something?

Fo4 was found because some brat (not Army Brat, I'm sure) issued a direct challenge to find him.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:23 PM

silly little word

Saying it's only a silly little word doesn't make it one. It's still vulgar. Would you be OK if you got called all sorts of obscene words as long as it wasn't in English?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:28 PM

Don't forget that we can't say Nazi either. Is there a pattern here?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:29 PM

"As You Like It"

or

"Like You Like It"

What shall I title my play?

Posted by: Budd | July 17, 2007 3:30 PM

silly little word

Saying it's only a silly little word doesn't make it one. It's still vulgar. Would you be OK if you got called all sorts of obscene words as long as it wasn't in English?

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 03:28 PM

I bet it happens more often than any of us are aware. Who cares?

My kids mumble things about me under their breath, behind my back, etc.

So what?

In English, the primary meaning is trash or waste. Last time I looked, Yiddish is not the primary language of many in the United States.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:31 PM

Clearly, I'm bored.

Yiddish language
Yiddish language (yid'ish) [key], a member of the West Germanic group of the Germanic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Germanic languages; German language).

Although it is not a national language, Yiddish is spoken as a first language by approximately 5 million Jews all over the world, especially in Argentina, Canada, France, Israel, Mexico, Romania, the United States, and the republics of the former USSR. Before the annihilation of 6 million Jews by the Nazis, it was the tongue of more than 11 million people. Growing out of a blend of a number of medieval German dialects, Yiddish arose c.1100 in the ghettos of Central Europe. From there it was taken to Eastern Europe by Jews who began to leave German-speaking areas in the 14th cent. as a result of persecution. By the 18th cent. Yiddish was almost universal among the Jews of Eastern Europe. It has generally accompanied Eastern European Jews in their migrations to other parts of the world.

Phonetically, Yiddish is closer to Middle High German than is modern German. Although the vocabulary of Yiddish is basically Germanic, it has been enlarged by borrowings from Hebrew, Aramaic, some Slavic and Romance languages, and English. Written from right to left like Hebrew, Yiddish also uses the Hebrew alphabet with certain modifications. In 1925 the Yiddish Scientific Institute (YIVO) was established in Vilnius, Lithuania. It served as an academy to oversee the development of the language. Later its headquarters were transferred to New York City, where in time it became the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research. Coping with the problem of dialects, this institute has done much to bring about the standardization of Yiddish.

In the eyes of many, Yiddish has significance both as the language of an important literature as well as a unique expression of the Jewish people. It is widely thought that modern Yiddish literature began in 1864 with the publication of Das Kleyne Mentshele (The Little Man) by Mendele mocher sforim. Among the best-known writers in Yiddish literature are Sholem Aleichem, I. L. Peretz, Isaac Meier Dik, and Isaac Bashevis Singer, the first writer in the language to be awarded (1978) the Nobel Prize in Literature. Thousands of Yiddish works are housed at the Yiddish Book Center at Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass.

See M. I. Herzog et al., ed., The Field of Yiddish: Studies in Language, Folklore, and Literature (1969); M. Weinreich, History of the Yiddish Language (1980); D. Katz, Grammar of the Yiddish Language (1987); D. G. Roskies, A Bridge of Longing: The Lost Art of Yiddish Storytelling (1995).

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:32 PM

It is not all right to call people names whether the words are obscene or not. People have been calling people names on this blog since day one. Dreck is not vulgar in the English language.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:32 PM

3:31 is my hero.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:35 PM

Don't forget that we can't say Nazi either. Is there a pattern here?

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 03:29 PM

Yea, it is called respecting other people's sensitivities. And using words in their proper context.

Posted by: Fred | July 17, 2007 3:36 PM

Damn, bring back the trolls! This is lame!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:36 PM

Well, I'd say that f**** has much more common usage in the US than dreck. Why has no one complained when others have said STFU on this blog?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:38 PM

Hey Fred,

I need to return to the inner calm of yesterday's wonderful evening on the porch. This disagreement about the meaning of dreck, and likely now, putz, is a turnoff. Can you send some virtual bourbon out our way (MN, workingmomx, myself, etc.) to ease our way back into inner calm?

Posted by: dotted | July 17, 2007 3:42 PM

Big difference between initials and spelling it out.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:43 PM

3:31 is female, the word you are searching for is zadnitze: vagina.

And, surprise!, you may call me that all you like. I'm unlikely to recognize it as an insult as my first language is English.

Posted by: I'm 3:31 | July 17, 2007 3:45 PM

Big difference between initials and spelling it out.

Nope, you're saying it and the people reading it know you're saying it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:46 PM

Dotted,

One bourbon from Bourbon Street coming right up!

Posted by: Fred | July 17, 2007 3:46 PM

Don't forget that we can't say Nazi either. Is there a pattern here?

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 03:29 PM

Yea, it is called respecting other people's sensitivities. And using words in their proper context.

Posted by: Fred | July 17, 2007 03:36 PM

Freakin' ears!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:47 PM

So we can't say SNAFU any more?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:48 PM

Seinfeld - the Soup Nazi

Is that the proper context?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:49 PM

Well, as only about 6 million people in the world can claim Yiddish as their first language, and only one (so far) on this blog is going crazy over the word dreck, I'm not changing my word usage.

In English, the language of the realm, this newspaper and this blog, the word is innocuous. Welcome to the real world.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:50 PM

So we can't say SNAFU any more?

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 03:48 PM

No, you may not. My sensibilities are offended.

Posted by: Miss Manners | July 17, 2007 3:51 PM

Your declaring a word innocuous in English doesn't make it so. Get off your ego trip.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:52 PM

Your declaring a word innocuous in English doesn't make it so. Get off your ego trip.

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 03:52 PM

Your declaring it offensive in Yiddish doesn't make it offensive in English. Give it a freakin' rest.

Posted by: zadnitze | July 17, 2007 3:54 PM

SNAFU =Situation Normal, All Fouled Up.

Posted by: Fred | July 17, 2007 3:54 PM

zadnitze is a putz

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:55 PM

SNAFU =Situation Normal, All Fouled Up.

Posted by: Fred | July 17, 2007 03:54 PM

The acronym was born in the military and it was "colorful" even then. As you know full well, Fred.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:56 PM

Fred: Not in Canada (or "Canuckistan", for those with the right sense of humor:-)

Posted by: Army Brat | July 17, 2007 3:57 PM

zadnitze is a putz

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 03:55 PM

Wouldn't that make her a hermaphrodite?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:59 PM

fubar?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 3:59 PM

fubar?

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 03:59 PM

Nice try!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:01 PM

zadnitze is a putz

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 03:55 PM

Wouldn't that make her a hermaphrodite?

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 03:59 PM

That's her (or his) problem, not mine.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:02 PM

zadnitze is a putz

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 03:55 PM

Wouldn't that make her a hermaphrodite?

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 03:59 PM

That's her (or his) problem, not mine.

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 04:02 PM

Yours is recognizing gender. Is this because yours is in question often?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:03 PM

"Saying it's only a silly little word doesn't make it one. It's still vulgar. Would you be OK if you got called all sorts of obscene words as long as it wasn't in English?"

The difference is that the word has meaning in both English and Yiddish, and in English it is not considered a vulgar word. There are other words that appear in more than one language and have different meanings, sometimes you just have to accept that it means something different. Remember the Chevy Nova?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:03 PM

From earlier (9:38 I think)

"LESS than 30K. No benefits. It is NOT a good offer. Please read more carefully."

With a spouse who's working and has benefits, why not? She needs to start somewhere!

Posted by: WDC | July 17, 2007 4:04 PM

"LESS than 30K. No benefits. It is NOT a good offer. Please read more carefully."

For someone just entering the workforce, 30K should be fine. If your intelligence, education, and experience warrants more, you will get a better offer or you will get the same offer but be able to advance more rapidly than someone without your abilities.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:07 PM

Now where is that virtual party with the free bourbon?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:11 PM

Yours is recognizing gender. Is this because yours is in question often?

Yea, a pi$$ing contest!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:14 PM

FUBAR= Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition

Utilize Euphemisms, people!

Posted by: Fred | July 17, 2007 4:14 PM

Saying it's only a silly little word doesn't make it one. It's still vulgar. Would you be OK if you got called all sorts of obscene words as long as it wasn't in English?

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 03:28 PM

You really need a valium. This is absurd, and the answer is not only, yes, but it doesn't matter. The blog doesn't operate based on your personal sensibilities. If I insult you in Sanskrit, guess what? Not a problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:18 PM

The virtual bar is open but we just need to find a bartender!


And to 3:56, in the military there is only one complement higher that OUTSTANDING!

Posted by: Fred | July 17, 2007 4:18 PM

Bod

Bast£n

Swear words can't be offensive if you don't know what they mean!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:19 PM

The virtual bar is open but we just need to find a bartender!

Guinan? Sam? Woody?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:20 PM

Ignorance is bliss.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:27 PM

Nope, ignorance is just ignorance.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:28 PM

Tom Cruise for bartender. I'd rather remember an insipid movie like Cocktail than have to read all of this dreck.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:29 PM

You really get a rush out of using a vulgar word, don't you 4:29? So sophisticated, for a pre-adolescent brain.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:34 PM

I returned to work ($61k, full benefits) in 2005 after nearly 12 years off with a special needs child (severely bipolar.) I loved the work and enjoyed the adult atmosphere - then my kid freaked at the lack of my constant presence and went off her meds. Took a summer to get her straight and I got canned by livid bosses who thought I had a lid on this (I did think I had it under control.) Moms of special needs kids - esp. those of use whose kids don't elict sympathy - have a hard road getting 'back in.' Don't minimize her travails. I wish her well; I'm again sidelined and living off IRAs in the meantime.

Posted by: sidelined mommy | July 17, 2007 4:37 PM

Calgon, take me away!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:39 PM

I know what those words mean, but I am not telling until I get my virtual whiskey!

Posted by: scarry | July 17, 2007 4:41 PM

You really get a rush out of using a vulgar word, don't you 4:29? So sophisticated, for a pre-adolescent brain.

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 04:34 PM

WTF??

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:43 PM

Interrupting this valuable exchange of insults to ask

"What exactly happened with Father of 4?"

Posted by: a regular whose been MIA | July 17, 2007 4:46 PM

Interrupting this valuable exchange of insults to ask

"What exactly happened with Father of 4?"

He was stalked, then turned into lil husky

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:48 PM

I have never wished for the "normal" trolls to return as badly as today. Between devil's advocate and the person having a heart attack over use of the trivial term, "dreck," this blog has taken a nose-dive.

Even some intelligent snark would take it up a level.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:48 PM

Some creep tried to out him with his real name and where he lived.

That anon poster is a loser and a stalker.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:49 PM

Also a regular who can't speak English.

Posted by: who's been MIA | July 17, 2007 4:49 PM

"Her role as a mother has actually been helpful for her, too, as my siblings and I have all volunteered to help out in the office during crunch time, to assist with small things like filing or organizing."

"Does anyone else think that it is completely weird to have your children come to the office and help with your job?"

Not between January and April 15! My gist was that mom worked for a CPA firm. My cousin's wife is a CPA and partner -- her kids (12, 10, 6) helped out some Saturdays during tax time! They were paid by the mom, of course.

Posted by: WDC | July 17, 2007 4:49 PM

So did this stalking take place here on the blog and was his real name/address posted here, or was he harassed via e-mail, or ??

Posted by: Last questions | July 17, 2007 4:51 PM

"I have never wished for the "normal" trolls to return as badly as today. Between devil's advocate and the person having a heart attack over use of the trivial term, "dreck," this blog has taken a nose-dive.

Even some intelligent snark would take it up a level."

No kidding, an hour on the use of dreck?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:53 PM

Calling something a trivial term doesn't make it trivial. You only trivialize yourself.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:55 PM

No, his name was not revealed and he was stalked on the blog. It is probably the same loser who doesn't like scary and is offended by the regulars on the blog. He is probably sitting in his basement thinking of ways to kill us all.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:55 PM

No, his name was not revealed and he was stalked on the blog. It is probably the same loser who doesn't like scary and is offended by the regulars on the blog. He is probably sitting in his basement thinking of ways to kill us all.

big picture of Leslie, like a shrine?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:58 PM

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 04:55 PM

Scarry, you forgot to sign your name.

Posted by: lurker | July 17, 2007 4:58 PM

So did this stalking take place here on the blog and was his real name/address posted here, or was he harassed via e-mail, or ??

Posted by: Last questions | July 17, 2007 04:51 PM

You care way too much.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 4:59 PM

I have never wished for the "normal" trolls to return as badly as today. Between devil's advocate and the person having a heart attack over use of the trivial term, "dreck," this blog has taken a nose-dive.

Even some intelligent snark would take it up a level.

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 04:48 PM

I left hours ago, don't blame me.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 17, 2007 5:00 PM

"You care way too much."

At least I haven't wasted my whole day here (or the last several weeks) posting anonymously and trying to get a rise out of people. Forgive me for being concerned about someone's well being.


Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 5:03 PM

"I have never wished for the "normal" trolls to return as badly as today. Between devil's advocate and the person having a heart attack over use of the trivial term, "dreck," this blog has taken a nose-dive.

Even some intelligent snark would take it up a level."

No kidding, an hour on the use of dreck?

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 04:53 PM

Feel free to add interesting content on your own.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 5:04 PM

Calling something a trivial term doesn't make it trivial. You only trivialize yourself.

AH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 5:07 PM

Fred,
Seeings how the sun has crossed the yardarm, I'm now consuming the bourbon sent my way. I feel better all ready.

Would you be offended if I put some mint in it? Sugar? Mint Juleps are divine when the temps are over 90.

Posted by: dotted | July 17, 2007 5:11 PM

So did this stalking take place here on the blog and was his real name/address posted here, or was he harassed via e-mail, or ??

Posted by: Last questions | July 17, 2007 04:51 PM

Sounds to me like the stalker trying to find out how successful you were.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 5:13 PM

I do not know what kind of lifestyle to which Karen is accustomed, but I faill to see how $30K or a bit less can be seen as not-enough-money. Sure, I want to be filthy rich like the next person, but if were looking to ease the burden on my spouse I would think that something close to $30K would go a long way toward easing that burden. Figure half goes to taxes and that leaves $15K. Again, I claim no knowledge of her lifestyle, but I imagine an extra $1000+ per month could go a long way. Save it, spend it, whatever.

I am a forty-year-old computer programmer, and that puts me at the high-end of the age group for my line of work. I have been out of work (and in the job market) so I know a little about what Karen writes. Tough, to be sure, and I found that I simply had to set my sights a little lower than I would have preferred.

There are many reasons to hire an older person over a younger one. Maturity and sensibility *tend* to increase with age, so an older person may bring both to an organization. That being said, do not expect that a prospective employer is interested. In Karen's case, being out of the workforce for twenty years means that she will likely not bring specific experience with her.

I have also felt the frustration of being looked over because of my age, but look at it from an employer's perspective: why hire a forty-year-old with family responsibilities at $some_number when a twenty-five year old can be hired for half the amount and will (likely) be more focused on work. I am not saying it is correct for employers to believe and act as such, but denying the economic reality only leads to false expectations.

Maybe she should try to start her own business. Easier said than done, to be sure, but to rely on others for financial and professional happiness is a good way to achieve neither.

Karen, best of luck to you.

Posted by: AZ | July 17, 2007 5:13 PM

"Sounds to me like the stalker trying to find out how successful you were."

If I was the stalker why would I need to ask exactly what I did or if his name/address was posted to the blog - wouldn't I already know that information?


Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 5:17 PM

If I was the stalker why would I need to ask exactly what I did or if his name/address was posted to the blog - wouldn't I already know that information?

Posted by: | July 17, 2007 05:17 PM

You just want everyone else to know about your perceived victory.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 5:19 PM

Bravo, Karen. Bravo, everyone who was led to understand and empathize. Karen, you made the most astute and conservative move possible, lovingly caring for your special-needs children in a way that must give them greater potential for productive self-realization in adulthood. Attention, Career-Mom taxpayers: you likely will not be burdened with government-backed subsidies needed to sustain these individuals!

I pursued a "first" career for eight years, during which time I was often privy to coworker moms' anxiety when they couldn't be home with their sick children. Noting a decrease in quality and an increase in violence in my local schools (where I volunteered). I chose to guide the self-directed (highly successful) educations of my four children, while working freelance or PT, and volunteering, on a highly successful family-needs-first schedule.

Ready for a third carer, I returned to school to earn a graduate degree in my field of choice. Now in my late fifties, after five years, I continue to search for a FT job. In a competitive field, amidst a handful of interviews--where I suspect age was one of my few impediments in at least two instances--I accepted PT employment with no benefits.

I work on contract at an uninspiring rate for at least three very fortunate employers at any given time. I enjoy the work I do, but understand that my qualifications are too specialized--without my earning a second masters--to be hired FT at any of the places I work.

I can not afford medical insurance, but make time to meditate, exercise, and fix healthy meals. As I did during my mothering years, I am able to research and find OTC or "alternative" remedies for minor ailments. At my age, I remember the time before corporate medicine, when wonderful doctors charged reasonable fees--but still had above-average incomes.

My kids are grown, use their talents to do the work they love--for satisfactory compensation--and are excellent citizens and responsible taxpayers. Attention Career Moms: they might be your good neighbors or your next high-performing hires!

I discovered that, due to increasing wisdom, I personally don't need to buy very much in the way of goods and services. I live simply and "smell the flowers" because I work a flexible schedule and I am able to make time for what is most important to me.

My major career--raising and educating four wonderful children--was very successful, and I would make the same decisions all over again. In fact, I recommend this somewhat lonely--and very controversial--course of action for any woman whose heart leads her in this direction. It's not easy; nothing so wonderful is easy.

I never had to worry that a stranger might injure or abuse my children, that they might be ill without a loving presence nearby, or that they might ask a question and not hear a good answer. Consideration and kindness were their constant models, and it shows. They are all gifted teachers, and were next to me when we cared for their grandparents--together. Attention Career Moms: my kids learned that caring for people--young and old alike--is more important than wealth: good for our children and for everyone's old age, when it all comes down to the voting booth!

Not wishing to appear too complacent about the inequities of the workplace--there is the matter of law. Discrimination on the basis of age is against the law. Everyone should be concerned about making sure that prosecutions go forward.

Lastly, financial analysts predict that a massive budget shortfall will cripple the US economy when the Baby Boom generation starts to collect in great numbers. Sustainable fulfilling employment for over-50s could help avert this crisis, if older workers decided that their jobs were too wonderful to walk away from.

Posted by: People First | July 17, 2007 5:20 PM

I have also felt the frustration of being looked over because of my age, but look at it from an employer's perspective: why hire a forty-year-old with family responsibilities at $some_number when a twenty-five year old can be hired for half the amount and will (likely) be more focused on work.


I hear that INITECH is hiring.........

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 5:21 PM

"You just want everyone else to know about your perceived victory."

Oh I see.

Well, think what you want, but I'm nothing but a curious bystander who had been on vacation and missed the action. Next time I'll ask earlier in the day when the regulars are around and can give me an answer not filled with snark and suspicion.


Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 5:21 PM

I'll ask earlier in the day when the regulars are around and can give me an answer not filled with snark and suspicion.


Good luck, Snark and Suspicion are the bread and butter of this log

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 5:26 PM

People First, while I'm happy that your family is happy, I would not generalize your experience to express such negativity towards Career Moms. Your statement indicating career moms is the cause of violent children is not supported by statistics. etc. etc. etc. Your opinion is your own, but when you post you need to back it up with facts if you wish to convince others.

Posted by: dotted | July 17, 2007 5:27 PM

Discrimination on the basis of age is against the law.

-people first

But discrimination based on the lack of qualifications isn't.

How did you pay the bills during your second career?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 5:27 PM

Attention Career Moms: barely disguised condescension and criticism on aisle five!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 5:29 PM

"Attention, Career-Mom taxpayers: you likely will not be burdened with government-backed subsidies needed to sustain these individuals!"

Yes, but we _will_ be burdened with the need to fund your health care when you get older, right? Since you don't have health insurance of your own?

Posted by: Um ... | July 17, 2007 5:32 PM

Yes, but we _will_ be burdened with the need to fund your health care when you get older, right? Since you don't have health insurance of your own?

Hmmm, you must have been raised by a Career Mom who failed to teach you the importance of caring for other people, LOL.

Posted by: Megan | July 17, 2007 5:45 PM

yeeaahh...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 6:05 PM

Attention Career Moms:

I think we should offer People First a nice big piece of spinach pie.

Posted by: Emily | July 17, 2007 6:07 PM

LOL. In other words, Emily is telling People First to eat dreck.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 6:09 PM

People First - Everything you described is also possible when a parent works fulltime. And even SAHMs cannot prevent their children from coming across some of the evils and evil people in the world. It's part of being part of the human race. I thought you came off as very holier-than-thou, whether you intended to or not. Good for you that you are so happy with your choices -- I mean it -- but it isn't fair to demean others for theirs.

Posted by: Leslie | July 17, 2007 6:10 PM

Dotted: Yes, I am guilty of not-very-veiled criticism of "Career Moms." Truth is, my daughter will struggle with this one, too. truth is: I wish EVERY mother OR father who wanted to stay with her child/children--for a day--for 18 years--would be able to do so--without penalty! Truth is--we are SO in love with consuming things that we overlook what is important.

Leaving your children in the care of anyone but yourself--UNLESS you are prone to deliver physical or mental violence--increases their risk of harm. Facts? Do you really need factual proof for this one? Google "child abuse."

During "second career" I gave up a car, rented, walked to grocery stores, etc., didn't buy new clothes, didn't buy the newest gadgets, etc. My childrens' father paid most of the bills and my earnings were secondary--unless you assign a dollar value to the childcare I provided. Then you strike an equivalence.

"Aisle 5": I am GUILTY as charged. I apologize if I offended you or anyone else.

Burdened with my health care? Then why not lobby your Rep for insurance I/we can afford--without abandoning our own children?!

I do my homewaork, never smoked, eat only whole foods, meditate, watch the scales, monitor my stats, take my vitamins, etc., etc. Good genes and fresh air, and plentiful exercise, are my humble insurance. Not having a high-stress 70-hr/wk job really lowers the stress load--and unmanageable stress is a major source of disease.

Not a perfect plan, but I don't have to abandon my principles.

You can have really great insurance and still be told to undergo unnecessary surgery, or get a false positive and be sent for unnecessary treatment, or you can get the wrong prescription or acquire a fatal staph infection in the hospital. Medicine is increasingly more about corporate profits than it is about healing:
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-fi-reddypol8jul08,1,833695.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

In short, placing people first--starting with your own kids--gives you a sustainable path to follow. It's the best example for future generations. We don't NEED all of the objects and services the market tells us we need, but our kids need all of our love and devotion!

Posted by: People First | July 17, 2007 6:15 PM

Emily, I like spinach pie. No problem. Thanks.

True, SAHMs can't protect their children from every danger, but Career Moms have a much more difficult time protecting them. Remember, I worked PT in a career track for part of my SAHM stint. I know what can go wrong while you're busy serving your client and you think the nanny is doing her job.

I believe every parent has the right to be close to their child, to ensure it's safety, health, and well-being, from birth until adulthood. In the interest of our families, our nation, and our world, we should protect the parent/child bond in every way!

Devoted parents should never be penalized by ostracism and exclusion from the world of work! The US Constitution affords us the right to life, liberty, etc.

Posted by: People First | July 17, 2007 6:31 PM

People First - Perhaps you are having trouble getting hired because it is the Career Moms doing the hiring. If you come off in an interview they way you're coming off here (condescending, superior, implying that working mothers care about material things instead of their children), I think most workplaces would think you wouldn't be a "good fit".

Posted by: Kathrina | July 17, 2007 6:42 PM

a personnel officer told me at the Y dressing room this a.m. that Siemens has 800 job openings nationwide. this woman said there are a variety of fields, not all engineering. FYI

Posted by: sidelined mom | July 17, 2007 6:50 PM

Qualifications. . .

A smart HR will recognize how a dedicated parent adds value to the workplace. If a job seeker has the essential qualifications for the situation (we all agree how this is mandatory), has reasonably up-to-date technology skills (as required), HRs should be ready to take advantage of a candidate's human-centered principles, innate efficiency, loyalty to the objective, and ability to perform on several levels simultaneously. Age should never be a factor in the hiring process.

Posted by: People First | July 17, 2007 6:51 PM

I have never run into any 'smart' HR people.

In fact, I have never run into any HR people who do much more than breathe air and warm up the office.

Posted by: to People First | July 17, 2007 7:03 PM

"My childrens' father paid most of the bills"

OK, so you had a partner who could support you and your kids. If someone does not have that--even if they live frugally--then what do you propose they do?

Posted by: curious | July 17, 2007 7:16 PM

we have a person believing so totally in her generalizations that she is incapable of listening to gentle comments. It isn't worth it to argue with someone who doesn't listen to you. hint: child abuse is highly likely within family. In one source I just read parents are the cause in 80% of cases. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm05/chapterfive.htm Why don't *you* google child abuse and get the real facts? I bet you give your daughter one heck of a guilt case. By the way, our kids are 27, 25, 16 and 12. I've raise kids and someday all too soon, grandkids will be on their way...I'm not ready to be grandma!

Posted by: dotted | July 17, 2007 7:23 PM

Obviously, you do not know about Emily's special spinach! You would not be so fast to accept if you knew where it had been.

Posted by: to People First | July 17, 2007 7:46 PM

"People First - Perhaps you are having trouble getting hired because it is the Career Moms doing the hiring. If you come off in an interview they way you're coming off here (condescending, superior, implying that working mothers care about material things instead of their children), I think most workplaces would think you wouldn't be a 'good fit'."

Kathrina, thank you. I don't think I come off this way in a job interview. I emphasize my PT work experience--which includes major administrative duties. I am proud that I was able to accomplish my objectives re my family, so I don't avoid the topic in an interview--but it's not on my resume. I believe that if an HM sees and values my experience and potential, that's someone I want to work for.

For the most part--same-age, male executives have passed over me to hire young women with the same qualifications. But I have detected that they gave the matter some thought. Younger hires are cheaper, as someone stated earlier.

I am sure that not ALL Career Moms or Career Dads put materialistic goals ahead of their kids. But plenty of them do. I do not believe that a child benefits from an unhappy parent, either, and sometimes parents find the role uncomfortable after the fact. If father OR mother is inclined to dedicate their life to parenting, however, that decision and that person should be honored. We salute dedicated military for service to country; we should salute the dedicated caregiver for service to humanity.

Recent foreclosures following the burst of inflated home prices indicate how people can place material desire ahead of good sense. Many children's lives will be uprooted as a result. Healthy happy families do not NEED big homes, wide-screen TVs, cable, wi-fi, designer decor, etc., etc. The nation's astronomical credit-card debt is unmistakable evidence of misplaced priorities.

Working to provide medical insurance for a family is an important argument--but should children lose parent-time as a result? As a nation, we need to remake healthcare!
Unprecedented profits for pharmaceutical giants, insurers, and the med tech industry are red flags over a system failure. Providing healthcare according to means is a disastrous approach!

In the lowest economic strata, it is even more important to maintain parent/child bonds and to assist parents in providing sufficiently for their children without sacrificing important quality contact time to the workplace.

Everyone should consider it their responsibility to uphold the mental and physical health of families who are our future. Remove bias from the workplace so that caregivers are free to care. Establish workplace priorities that positively contribute to career re-entry or start-up, at every age, for every American.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 7:52 PM

"People First - Perhaps you are having trouble getting hired because it is the Career Moms doing the hiring. If you come off in an interview they way you're coming off here (condescending, superior, implying that working mothers care about material things instead of their children), I think most workplaces would think you wouldn't be a 'good fit'."

Kathrina, thank you. I don't think I come off this way in a job interview. I emphasize my PT work experience--which includes major administrative duties. I am proud that I was able to accomplish my objectives re my family, so I don't avoid the topic in an interview--but it's not on my resume. I believe that if an HM sees and values my experience and potential, that's someone I want to work for.

For the most part--same-age, male executives have passed over me to hire young women with the same qualifications. But I have detected that they gave the matter some thought. Younger hires are cheaper, as someone stated earlier.

I am sure that not ALL Career Moms or Career Dads put materialistic goals ahead of their kids. But plenty of them do. I do not believe that a child benefits from an unhappy parent, either, and sometimes parents find the role uncomfortable after the fact. If father OR mother is inclined to dedicate their life to parenting, however, that decision and that person should be honored. We salute dedicated military for service to country; we should salute the dedicated caregiver for service to humanity.

Recent foreclosures following the burst of inflated home prices indicate how people can place material desire ahead of good sense. Many children's lives will be uprooted as a result. Healthy happy families do not NEED big homes, wide-screen TVs, cable, wi-fi, designer decor, etc., etc. The nation's astronomical credit-card debt is unmistakable evidence of misplaced priorities.

Working to provide medical insurance for a family is an important argument--but should children lose parent-time as a result? As a nation, we need to remake healthcare!
Unprecedented profits for pharmaceutical giants, insurers, and the med tech industry are red flags over a system failure. Providing healthcare according to means is a disastrous approach!

In the lowest economic strata, it is even more important to maintain parent/child bonds and to assist parents in providing sufficiently for their children without sacrificing important quality contact time to the workplace.

Everyone should consider it their responsibility to uphold the mental and physical health of families who are our future. Remove bias from the workplace so that caregivers are free to care. Establish workplace priorities that positively contribute to career re-entry or start-up, at every age, for every American.

Posted by: People First | July 17, 2007 7:52 PM

Dotted, I AM listening and you are right in saying that "child abuse is highly likely within family." I said that "Leaving your children in the care of anyone but yourself--UNLESS you are prone to deliver physical or mental violence--increases their risk of harm."

I am ready to help any of my kids with their own childcare--when the time comes--if they want the help. They are free to choose their own paths in this regard.

Curious, I believe that society needs to assist single parents in every way possible, for the good of the children, for the good of society. It may be impossible for a single parent to be a SAHM, but on a person-to-person basis, we can all be ready to help the single parent find more child-centered time. I used to do the grocery shopping for a friend who was a single parent to a toddler.

We need to support measures that equip low-income parents, especially single parents, for their serious responsibilities, and ensure that they have access to abundant, quality parent/child time. Family-centered workplace policies are a place to start.

Maybe Emily's spinach makes a good facial peel? {o;

Posted by: People First | July 17, 2007 8:20 PM

"Leaving your children in the care of anyone but yourself--UNLESS you are prone to deliver physical or mental violence--increases their risk of harm. Facts? Do you really need factual proof for this one? Google "child abuse.""

uhhh, People First? Have you ever googled the statistics on child abuse? I doubt it, since 75 - 85% of abusers are family members. You say devoted. I say delusional, sanctimonious, ill-informed sanctimonious fool. What a combo.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 8:23 PM

We hit the trifecta today, people. devil's advocate, dreck person and People First make this the worst blog day ever. Even Brian's blogs have produced more interesting and intelligent comments.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 8:26 PM

dotted,

*rolls eyes*

There's no fixing stupid.

Posted by: MN | July 17, 2007 8:27 PM

"In fact, I recommend this somewhat lonely--and very controversial--course of action for any woman whose heart leads her in this direction. It's not easy; nothing so wonderful is easy."

What a great idea! Note to self: look for Sugar Daddy tomorrow.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 8:31 PM

"Leaving your children in the care of anyone but yourself--UNLESS you are prone to deliver physical or mental violence--increases their risk of harm."
-----------

bull-oney. you made that up. My son's daycare has three teachers in the room so two can be in the room at all time watching the kids. Can you say that you have two people in the room at all time watching your kids?

My son HAS gotten hit or bit by the other kids when they were all raging twos and a few bruises in falls, but beyond that zero injuries the whole four years.

Now, compare that with tumbling out of bed at grandmas or cutting his foot with me at the pool or the time his cousin broke his arm falling off the trampoline my BIL thoughtfully bought for the kids, cough, or the other cousin falling off the bannister or the third cousin slamming the piano key guard on her brothers hands or my son slipping on the ice and bruising his elbow or our neighbor slipping on the same ice minutes later and breaking his arm despite us (or likely because we were) yelling at him that it was unsafe... I think you'll find in real life that the daycare center situation, with 3 caregivers in the room, is pretty much a lot safer than when you've got two kids and are distracted making dinner.

Posted by: DCer | July 17, 2007 9:28 PM

Um, because the one paycheck can cover the mortgage, expenses, savings, etc., all by itself without the need for a second job (or even an income from the spouse)?

Neither the math nor the logic is difficult. I'm guessing your self-proclaimed success isn't all it's cracked up to be.
----------

sigh. what are you talking about?

hope you like pushing over your straw man, but he isn't me.

Posted by: DCer | July 17, 2007 9:31 PM

So the fact that her house is currently worth a great deal more completely undercuts DCers argument that OF COURSE she married a millionaire--look where she's living!

------------

Yes, I stand corrected, but hoo boy! what an awful situation that I wish my name wasn't mentioned near! Today may be my last day here.

Posted by: DCer | July 17, 2007 9:35 PM

Thanks MN - a virtual bourbon your way! How do you like this real storm we're having? Quite a show

maybe she should be 'perfect people first'??? I need another bourbon before I can be clever. I'm sure you can think of something right off the top of your head!

Posted by: dotted | July 17, 2007 10:04 PM

"I am GUILTY as charged. I apologize if I offended you or anyone else."

Really? Cause you seem to me to be determined to cut down everyone else for whatever reason. If you are happy with your life more power to you - perhaps you could offer the same acceptance to others. I would think that would actually put _people_ first, instead of ideology.

Dotted, pass me some of that bourbon.

Posted by: Megan | July 17, 2007 10:18 PM

dotted,

*ah*

Thanks for the compliment. I am not inspired to cleverness by such simplistic sentiments, however. It's as if People First considers that she's the first person to discover this particular soap-box and we are all to bow in forehead-slapping recognition of her deep thoughts.

I love storms -- they remind me of my cloud-covered, rain-filled, Yankee upbringing, LOL. My dogs, however, are trying to act as though they are not scared and it's cute to watch them huddle against us, pretending it's not about the thunder. What a great night for a virtual bourbon with friends!

Cheers, Megan and dotted! *clink* *clink*

Posted by: MN | July 17, 2007 10:25 PM

Mom has completely overplayed her sympathy hand, based on info from internet. While Hiring Manager and Devil's Advocate may be somewhat tactless, they are on the mark. WOULD NOT HIRE.

Posted by: local coo | July 18, 2007 12:04 AM

Mom has completely overplayed her sympathy hand, based on info from internet. While Hiring Manager and Devil's Advocate may be somewhat tactless, they are on the mark. WOULD NOT HIRE.

Posted by: local coo | July 18, 2007 12:04 AM

I've said it before, I'll say it again. Those of you who accuse working parents of workign to afford to pay for frivolous luxuries - BITE ME. My husband and I and all the other present and future working parents of the world did not work our butts off during college, graduate school, and the early years of our careers only to live paycheck to paycheck or pinch pennies once we have children. FOr most people I know, it's not about paying for the Lexus or the 10,000 square foot McMansion. It's about being comfortable. It's about being able to afford good schools for our children (or the cost of housing in a good school district). It's about paying for piano lessons and study abroad. It's about paying for braces and other medical expenses. It's about helping our children when they take unpaid internships in college. It's about helping out parents and other relatives when they face financial or other difficulties. It's about being able to retire when we're still young enough to enjoy retirement - travel, volunteer work, etc. And yes, it's about being materially comfortable and not having to worry that going on a date with my spouse, taking the family on vacation, or going to the movies is going to break the bank.

Other people make different choices, but stop acting like the choice to make your family more financially comfortable is somehow more "selfish" than sacrificing that comfort so one parent can be home full time. Both are valid choices with real consequences and only the families involved can determined which choice is best for them.

Posted by: NotAMom | July 18, 2007 7:59 AM

"Yes, I stand corrected, but hoo boy! what an awful situation that I wish my name wasn't mentioned near! Today may be my last day here.

Posted by: DCer | July 17, 2007 09:35 PM"

Oh please let it be so!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2007 9:43 AM

NotAMom,
Your anger gives you away.

Nearly everything you describe falls into the area of "comfortable." In your scenario, material acquisitions, pleasurable experiences, enrichments--all take precedence over a parent's time with his/her child. The child gets the message that things, experiences, and economic position are more important than the unscheduled presence of a loving family.

Each parent must decide what they are able to sacrifice to "purchase" more time with their child. Only a wise parent knows how much it is worth.

Posted by: People First | July 18, 2007 10:00 AM

People - Your smugness gives you away. In my experience, only people insecure with their own choices feel the need to disparage the choices of others.

Here's a newsflash - most of us having children now have had the opportunity, either from first hand experience or through our friends, to observe the relative benefits of working vs. non-working parents. You know what difference we noticed? Little to none. Children of working parents do not feel any more neglected than children of nonworking parents, weren't confused about who mommy and daddy were, and weren't any more prone to grow up as materialistic little brats.

Our parents, whether they worked or stayed home, worked hard to give us a good start in life. Our parents also didn't sacrifice all of their own wants and desires so that they could personally cater to our every need. We are grateful for the former and don't feel short changed because of the latter. Neither will our children.

If you can afford to stay home with your children and maintain the lifestyle you're comfortable with, good for you. I would submit that you probably CAN'T afford it if you are now without health insurance and therefore relying on the largess of those of us WITH health insurance in the event of a major medical emergency, but go ahead and hold onto those delusions.

The rest of us may make different choices based on what we think is best for the FAMILY - including the children AND the parents. Since all you have to back up the superiority of your choices is a bunch of self-righteous hot air, forgive us for not taking your cautionary words and guilt trips seriously.

Posted by: NotAMom | July 18, 2007 11:06 AM

"In my experience, only people insecure with their own choices feel the need to disparage the choices of others."

Your replies seem to disparage my choices and also disclose your own ambivalence, as do most of the heated responses to my posts.

Remember, I was not totally a SAHM, but often tried to balance two roles--so I know what I am talking about. My point is to defend the importance of direct caregiving, to remind readers how important is the loving presence of a parent in the life of a child. It is the most important thing aside from food and the most basic necessities of life.

In essence, my ideology places people above things, period.

This thread addresses Karen's difficulties in finding a job which suits her needs. She was a caregiver for twenty years and is possibly experiencing age bias in the market but more likely is overlooked by hiring managers because her resume does not reflect recent job and training experience.

Karen, and other parents in similar circumstances, people who have spent their lives placing people above things, deserve our positive encouragement, not our condescension.


Posted by: People First | July 18, 2007 12:25 PM

People -

You apparently lack any reading comprehension ability. I do not disparage your choices or the choices of anyone to stay home. I do, however, recognize that they are CHOICES that, like any choices, have positive and negative consequences. A negative consequence for you is apparently that you can't afford health insurance and must rely on the safety net provided by those of us who can in the event of a medical emergency. A negative consequence for Karen is that she finds herself unable to get the kind of job she wants because she has a 20 year gap in employment and credentials. I respect both of your choices and am sure they were the best choices for your respective situations, but I probably wouldn't make the same ones because I don't want to face those consequences and don't think I need to in order to raise healthy, happy children.

BTW, your "placing people first" mantra is so much empty verbiage. Who gets placed first? And how do people survive and thrive without "things"? Why doesn't giving your children "extras" like piano lessons, study abroad opportunities, good educations through college, or helping them to take unpaid internships count? And why don't mommy and daddy's present and future needs and wants count? How about all the people that can be helped through mommy and daddy's work?

The "Mommy Wars" do make me mad, not because I have any insecurities or guilt, but because they're so unbelievably stupid. People who piously lecture women about the importance of working or staying home are usually morons who are trying to sell something or salve their own insecurities. I repeat, parents should make decisions based on what they think is best for their family as a whole. Taking into account economic well-being, security, and comfort is not selfish - it is part of determining what is best for parents and children in the short and long term. You don't get brownie points for needlessly impoverishing yourself in the name of spending more time with your children.

Posted by: NotAMom | July 18, 2007 1:16 PM

Karen's posting made me catch my breath. I am 60-something womnen working now at a very satisfying job with a salary that is below what I have made in the past. I was fired (or laid-off, it makes little difference)in my 50's and was terrified at the prospect of looking for work at that age, even with a solid career history. It's definately harder going up against 20 and 30 year olds with the same education and qualifications. I got plenty of first responses to my resume, but it took many interviews to finally get the job. I know I lost out to younger people. I even had one hiring manager say, "You definately had great qualifications. Our fear was that you were overqualified and would not stay. You could get something better."

Karen needs to work with a professional career coach to help her frame her experiences in way that would best position her to find a job. She also should update her wardrobe and appearance. That should give her some confidence.

She may need to update her skills also, if she has not got the computer savy that employers need. She should look at fields where there is demand. Healthcare is especially desparate for people and her experience with her children may prove valuable here. There are more jobs in healthcare besides nursing...although there is a desparate shortage here and if she is willing to put in the time for the training, this is one area where salaries are diven up by the need for qualified people. Some universities have fast-track programs for second career folks. The same holds true for teachers. Healthcare and education are very fulfilling careers that can sometimes be flexible in the hours worked. And while she'll not likely make a six figure income, she will receive respectable pay and good benefits. Look for Experience Corp programs.

A community college may be able to help also. Some of them have special programs for people who have been out of the workforce for a while.

If this doesn't appeal, with a 20 year gap (or even a 10 year gap), she will need to find a place where she can start low and work up. Once she has a foot in the door, her employer will probably forget about her age and lack of experience. Her maturity will play in her favor.

I wish her well.

Posted by: Granny | July 18, 2007 4:26 PM

I love being a wife & mom. I hate working for anyone besides my family because I have so little tolerance for rudeness, injustice, and favoritism. When I go back to work, I'm going to temp for a long time so that I can learn how to be tactful again with irrational people and mentally unstable people. A couple years ago, every temp job I worked at wanted to hire me, even though I told them up front I was not interested in ANYthing permanent. I hope I have that kind of reaction now that I'm 37 and have a little more life experience.

Posted by: Slacker Mom 2 | July 21, 2007 3:21 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company