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I recently went back to work after several years of not working. I had been dealing with serious health issues and had, indeed, been on Social Security Disability. Finally, I went into a dual remission from both illnesses and when a year went by with no relapse, I got brave enough to polish up my resume (diverse choices, is the best I can say for my "career" path), get my references out of the archives and began sending out my resume.
My most exciting opportunity came when I was called by the American Cancer Society for an interview in Austin. It is a bit of a drive and IH35 is torture, as is Loop 1, but the pay scale was good, the benefits great and they offered retirement too.
I put on a nice summer dress and my good black shoes and had to chuckle when I noted that my feet were no longer swollen and the shoes were too large. Ah well, they were the only ones I had that went with that outfit and I didn't have time to run to a department store for new ones. Off I went, my confidence level high, my spirits equally as high and I didn't even mind the heavy traffic. I arrived early and had to wait until 10 minutes before my interview time to go inside. I was shown in by a lovely young lady who I htought was the pre-interviewer. She was in blue jeans and a peasant type top, so I assumed her status to be a bit less than professional HR. I was wrong. She was THE interviewer.
As she showed me around the facility, including the telephone room where donation calls come in, I noted that is was not super busy and there was a woman about my age in one of the little cubicles. Good.
We went to the interviewers office and the interview was plesant. She handed me the sheet with the information about benefits, retirement, etc. and we discussed the job, my past experience, my concerns about not having worked for several years (albeit I told her that my previous jobs all included telephone contact with the public), and she asked how I would handle different situations, giving me the situation and waiting for my answer. I thought I did very well. Then she asked me about my CSR (customer service rep) experience (I only did that type of job once a long time ago) and my computer experience. I began to get nervous. I joked that I had been "out of the loop" for several years, but did explain that I used a computer regularly, had used on in various jobs with industry specific software, and felt that I could handle a call center computer easily. I found myself apologizing for my LACK of current experience ( she knew I'd battled cancer and lupus) but said I wasn't too old to not be able to learn the software program. I found myself FEELING old and like a hasbeen and I'll bet it showed.
I left, still certain that I would be called for the job (they were hiring a bunch of people). I got a "regrets" e-mail (how crass) and when I wrote back and asked WHY I had not been hired, she said I didn't have current experience. When I asked her to elaborate, telling her that I was certain I could handle the job, and even offereing to come in and learn the program without pay, she sent me a terse email, stating that if I wanted to work for the American cancer Society, I needed current experience. She also stated tha she'd given me plenty of explanation and good luck on my job hunt. THAT my folks is the current state of corporate HR. Jeans and attitude.
I can honestly say that my ego was crushed and my feeling like a dinosaur was even more profound. HOW was I to go out and find a job and not be discriminated against for lack of current experience (excuse me Ma'am, I was just busy fighting for my life the past 6 years and didn't have time to garner current experience, unless you want me to tell you how to to be a good patient and keep your spirits up when all seems to be spiriling downhill. THAT I have current experience in.
I almost gave up seeking work. I finally put an ad on Craigslist, stating that I was a woman in my 50's, had been dealing with health issues but was in remission and doing great and was looking for an office job. The job thus came to me. I met my new boss, a lovely young woman in her 30's, gave her my resume, references, and within two weeks, I was working. The age group of the co-workers is diverse, ranging from 20 to 63. I began my job there, feeling insecure and the co-workers had no idea of my experience. I didn't know a thing about the insurance business, kept getting unsolicited advice from the gal who used to have my job, way past the time I'd already learned the simple tasks and listened regularly to gossip from the two gals up front putting down co-workers and people who used to work there. Once I got past the insecurity, I've realized that I either have a LOT to give this job, once allowed to grow, or I can find another job and shine in whatever I do. It has given me the confidence to go back out there and do what I need to do to be happy working. My age and lack of current experience is not something that should hold me down. I WAS the one who had the problem with my age and the fears that go along with it. Now I know, I can do anything I set my mind to and any employer would be lucky to have me.
Thanks for sharing your interview experience, especially the part where you felt you were apologizing for being out of the loop. I hope to be starting the interview process within the next couple of weeks. I will certainly keep what you have shared in mind, as I also lack current experience in my chosen field and will need to 'sell' my knowledge.