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Saturday, March 20, 2010

How To Find Your Dream Job

The job match
By Jennifer Gruden (

At a time of economic uncertainly many women are finding themselves at a career crossroads. Here's how to court the job you think you want – and find out whether it's really for you.

As unemployment numbers continue to rise, many women are finding themselves back in a highly competitive job market. We sat down with Dr. Barbara Moses, a popular Globe and Mail work issues columnist and author of Dish: Midlife Women Tell the Truth about Work, Relationships, and the Rest of Life, and recently, What Next? Find the Work that’s Right for You to talk about the job hunting scene. What's different about job hunting at midlife, and right now?
Barbara Moses: Midlife women have… been more vulnerable, as all older workers are, to job loss, because there is some merit to the fear that the younger worker, cheaper worker will replace you.

Women who were married to men that were the primary breadwinners who have been affected by the recession, who were out of the workplace, now find themselves reluctantly forced to find work…. They may have been out of the workplace because they chose to retire early or to be caregivers. And now they're having to present themselves all over again….

I think for a lot of women today, they become very self-conscious at midlife; they're at that stage when they feel like they should be "look at me" but they're out there having interviews with people the same age as their kids. The questions I get from a lot of these women are 'How do I look?' 'Are these old ladies shoes?' – it's because they are self-conscious and have lost a part of their identity. So I think there are a lot of women who are really grieving now. They revert to that kind of teenage self-consciousness: Do I look like a nerd? Do I look like an old lady? Men do not go through this questioning in the same way that women do. So let's say that a woman is concerned about presenting herself either in her current workplace or in making a job transition: What should she keep in mind?

Barbara Moses: What women should wear depends of course on the industry: If you're applying for a job at a bank you should go more conservative; if you're applying in the fashion industry of course you want to be a bit more au courant. (See: Look chic all week!) So there's your first "Do": Understand the sector and the role for which you're applying.

Also, present yourself the way people who are a little bit more senior or at your level present themselves
But finally, don't be afraid to express your personal style as long as it's not in conflict with the organization.

In which case I have to ask, what are you doing there? Dress is a part of what we are and who we are. If you're going to have to completely reinvent yourself in a particular way to fit in, why would you want to do that? I think this is particularly important for midlife women: They have hidden themselves for 15 years and may no longer be willing to do that to fit in. How do you know if a job's not a match?

Barbara Moses: 90 per cent of people, by the time they're 40, will have had one really bad job. So you have ask yourself some pretty tough questions: Is this job worth it? Can you talk about a job that wasn't right for you?

Barbara Moses: I was raised in a small business family… I didn't know anyone who worked in a corporation. So when I got to Toronto and [went to work for] a very conservative industry, I would look at the women and how they would dress. All of the women – this was the late 70s, early 80s – were wearing these very boxy suits, with either a bow tie or a string of pearls. I couldn't understand why women would hide their bodies that way and wear clothes that basically made them look fat. The flashpoint for me was somehow clothes…. They reflected the way in which the job was not a good match for me. What are some of the other signs a job is not a good match?

Barbara Moses: This is really important for women at midlife. They have the feeling that this time [they] want to get it right.

You have to start with a meaningful self-assessment. It's the most powerful of any tool: Look at your values, your skills, your underlying career themes. When you look at your accomplishments don't look so much for the results, but also what were the things that gave you a sense of excitement and made you feel good about yourself.

Then look at the opportunities for work and consider whether they're really a good match. If you need autonomy you are not going to want to work in a process-driven environment; if you prefer structure you're not going to want a very wide-open, loose environment.

And of course: "When you get up in the morning, do you love your work?" That's one way to tell.

But if you just have to pay the bills, remember, you don't have to love your job – you can work to live and not live to work. You can say my work doesn't define me….

Women at midlife have been there, done that, and sometimes they want to broaden themselves and test themselves in a new arena that's a non-work environment.

You just need to be comfortable with the choices that you've made.
On the hunt for a new job? Get networking tips from the pros, learn how to nurture your portable skills and hear from other women who have re-entered the workforce.

Tired of thinking about work? No problem: Visit Thailand's best beaches from your armchair.

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