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A great new job - and how I did it

Posted: Jun 30th, 2018 - 2:05 pm

Apologies if this is a duplicate. The first one disappeared I think (glad I saved it).

First of all, I tried for years and years to get an "outside" job, with no luck, ever. I have a college degree and was a very well-paid advertising writer and graphic designer before being lured away by MT. I thought all I would have to do to go back to it would be convincing myself to venture out again, maybe even to a large city. 

Then this spring my 20-year MT employer suddenly dumped me, and there I was with one decent-paying but low volume MT IC job, and really low-paying, erratic legal transcription. Enough to pay car and utilities, but not rent, food or anything else. Enough to keep me afloat, barely, while dodging my landlord. 

When a great communications director job fell through (after a month of being jerked around and falling further behind), I hit the panic button. Over a week or two I applied online for every job under the sun, literally anything I thought I was qualified to do. Hospital secretary, healthcare management, nanny, florist labor, courier, writer, proofreader, graphic designer (intern, no less), communications management, telephone liason, legal secretary -- I don't know what all. 

AND I recontacted a temp service I had talked to before and, in my panic, really insisted they get me on their available list. So I did a Skype interview and some skills tests (typing, Windows, Word, Xcel, grammar) and laid it on thick about how incredibly skill-building and challenging MT was, how good my PC skills are, how much I needed a job and what a hard, hard worker I am. They offered to present me to their clients for several jobs, all at least a 40-mile commute, most 14/hr. They were office administrative, one doing debt collection calls. Then there was one they said I wouldn't want, the company couldn't fill, the temp agency couldn't fill, because even though better money, it was refrigerated warehouse clerical work, in steel-toed boots, evening shift. I said "I don't mind cold! [I've barely heated my house with wood for 10 years because I couldn't afford to pay for heat] I'm a night owl, and I worked in a warehouse before [for another temp agency 30 years ago lol]! You've gotta love me for this job!" They jumped on it, I interviewed immediately and they offered me the job on the spot. And, incredibly, I LOVE it. It's not that cold at all, I can manage the lifting and carrying, I have my own office and work alone. It's different, all right, but the people are fantastic, the pay is good and will be even better if/when they hire me (so far that looks really good), and it's a great company with lots of perks. Only 8 hours a day! Weekends and holidays off! Real overtime pay! 

I knew the temp agency would be the way to go, because they don't care about age At All, they just want their pay (about double your temp paycheck), and I did it all the time years ago between advertising jobs -- it's how I got into MT. The only reason I have to drive so far is I live in the boonies. Temp jobs are great because companies are usually desperate and so happy to see you, it's low stress because the expectations are usually lowish and they're thrilled if you do well. It's a great way to find a niche at something new you're good at (like MT was for me, and this). At every temp job I've ever done I was offered a permanent position. You don't usually have to interview on site, your agency has already approved you, but this job was a little unusual -- they wanted to make sure I actually wanted it once I saw what it was. Exactly what I needed -- a job nobody else wanted.

I should add that I was deep in PTSD like all of us, zero confidence and self-image. I felt old, ugly and virtually unemployable. I really hit rock bottom when my MTSO finally dumped me. Truly unemployed for the first time in 23 years. BUT, fortunately, six months before I had gotten my hair styled and permed and started working on my weight, which wasn't that hard because I couldn't afford food anyway, and when the panic set in I couldn't eat, so I lost the last 10 pounds in two weeks. 

Also, I faced reality about my advertising career. A little research and I discovered it would've been over at 50 anyway. Madison Avenue wizard copywriters get dumped at 50 and can't get another full-time job anywhere. Graphic designers, too. It's a youth-worshiping business, period. So I stopped wasting time applying for jobs I would never get and trying to hold out for the big bucks. That dose of reality made a huge difference in what I was willing to shoot for. And I don't feel like a failure because I now know I'm not alone in that disullusionment. I'm learning web design and still hope to freelance. 

Anyway, try a temp service! Getting your foot in the door, letting people get to know you and realize older people can be very cool to work with is more than half the battle. They can ignore your resume, they can say "Over 50? eeuw, no thanks," but you can get a fair shot once you become a real person. 

The weird thing is that once I started targeting realistic jobs -- hundreds of them -- and panic made me bold, I started getting a lot of responses. I turned down nanny and cook interviews. I looked up the name of a law office I applied to online, called them to ask if the position was filled, and when they said, "No, but we're already interviewing. I guess we didn't call you?" I said, "No, but may I ask for an interview?" They said yes, I did, they loved me and offered me the job (that low-paying legal transcription really helped); I turned it down because I can make much better money where I am now.

I know this is long, but I hope my experience helps someone else with their confidence and game plan. BTW, my temp agency is Robert Half/Office Team (two branches of the same company) and I highly recommend them. They do a lot of specialized staffing, but I think they both do Administrative, and I think any almost MT could do most admin jobs. Good luck and, again, I hope this helps!


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