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Re-Entering the Workforce Post Divorce Part I of 4

Rachel Alexander Sept. 16, 2020

{3 minutes to read}  Reentering the workforce can be among the most daunting tasks arising out of a divorce. Typically one spouse, during the marriage, has pulled his or her primary focus away from career and onto family and home life.

Many of us over the age of 40 — who have been either consistently working in our profession or at home with children for a decade or more — wouldn’t have the first idea how to begin the process of finding a job. Everything — from how to prepare for an interview, submit a resume, or utilize online databases for job searches — can be overwhelming.

Often people approach this subject with a clutch of desperation, and generate solutions from a place of panic. Immediate impulses (and concomitant thoughts) may be along the lines of:

I’ll just have to go get a job at McDonald’s or Home Depot. 

I’ll have to work at minimum wage and won’t make enough income to meaningfully pay my expenses.

If I return to work, I won’t earn enough to even cover the child-care I’ll need in order to work. Where is the sense in that? 

Who will hire me? They are only hiring kids in their 20s in this field.

This type of reactive thinking generally comes out of franticness and panic, deprivation and fear. It is often rooted in concepts and ideas that are decades out of date. A decision made from this place is typically neither good nor sustainable. In fact, any choice made under such pressure can feel punishing.

Is there another way forward? A way to approach re-employment that is more steadying, life affirming and empowering?

From Fear to Choice — From Choice to Control

In exploring how people can be best supported and helped reentering the workforce, I met with Katherine Kirkinis, ED.M., M.A. Her group, Wanderlust Careers, focuses exclusively on clients reentering, or repositioning themselves within, the workforce. In fact, most of Katherine’s clients have been out of the workforce for extended periods by the time they seek help from her firm. Katherine and her group employ an imaginative, holistic and affirming approach.

Katherine’s approach is antidotal to the sense of urgency and anxiety often governing the client’s own approach. Her system puts the individual at the center, and organizes the entire strategy and change process from there. Rather than trying to squeeze a person into a position that may or may not be a good long-term fit, she helps the client to develop a plan that meets not only their interests, strengths, and skills — but one that also fits within the boundaries the clients may have set for themselves (e.g., salary requirements, geographic location, educational attainment etc.).

Having reframed how reentering the workforce can be managed, the following three parts of this series will explore several key components of the process and provide immediately actionable items. We look forward to sharing these articles next.