finding a job after a long employment gap
February 9, 2012 2:56 PM Subscribe
Help me integrate back into the workforce after a very long absence and current difficulties with social anxiety + panic attacks.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (14 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
The situation: I have spent the past (almost) ten years acting as a live-in caretaker for an elderly relative with severe dementia. She is close to the end, and has been moved to a care facility. I'm now faced with finding a job and moving out of the house within approximately three months. Staying in the house is not possible; another relative has power of attorney and has decided the house will be sold to pay for care. No other money will be coming my way, as it must be spent on my relative's end care. I knew this going in, and I didn't do it for money or the house--I just wanted to help her live in her own home for as long as possible. I have some guilt and depression about this.
A side note: I never anticipated spending ten years doing this. Another relative in another state was supposed to take over when he retired, but he decided to spend his retirement RVing instead. So instead of a couple of years, it turned into ten. I'm now 40 and kind of stunned that I've pretty much passed the 'get married, have kids' window.
I've done some searching around and figured out I did all this the 'wrong way'. I let old friends and contacts completely drift out of my life. I emailed some old professors about five years ago, and none of them remembered me. I was the sole 24/7 caretaker with little outside help for most of the ten years. I've become isolated and it feels like my social skills have atrophied.
I know I need therapy. I'm deeply depressed, highly stressed, I've had a few panic attacks, and I know I've engaged in self-sabotaging behavior related to growing up dirt poor and believing I'll never be anything but dirt poor. But I can't get therapy until I can pay for it, and I need a job to do that.
The questions: Is there anything I absolutely should be doing besides blindly sending resumes out? Are there resume/career help centers that will help me get my ducks in a row? Temp agencies--what do I look for, and what exactly should I expect when trying to use one? i.e., what's the best way to contact them, what will they ask when I go in, how should I dress (I'm female and honestly feel lost when I go shopping for clothes that look 'professional'), etc. How do I discuss what I've been doing for the past ten years? How do I deal with not having any current references? What about credit checks--I've heard employers do them all the time now, and I have crappy credit.
Another side note: I'm on the verge of a panic attack just writing this. I'm terrified I'll end up homeless and suicidal.
I do have some things in my favor, but I'm not sure how to best use them:
I'm educated--MLIS (Though I feel like I need basic step-by-step 'this is how you get a job' instruction and I feel guilty and stupid like I should just know this stuff.)
I have some cash--5k
I have a car, but it's nearing its end (I wouldn't trust it for driving/delivery jobs).
I can type 50wpm
I'm proficient with Photoshop
I've been told not to mention this as it's stigmatized in many circles, but I use Second Life and have a shop (not an x-rated one!) inworld that makes tier+ about 100 bucks a month. I started using it a while ago as something to do in the evenings. I do not believe it has much more growth in it. This is why I taught myself Photoshop.
I am not familiar with Excel, which I know hurts my chances at temp agencies. I feel confident I could learn quickly, but I've just never had a job that needed it and I know temp places want people who can just do it already.
Other info: moving in w/my parents or siblings is not possible. I am located in the Seattle area. I'm overweight and not fit enough for hard physical labor, though I am capable of doing standing jobs/lifing 50lbs jobs, etc. I have no desire to fight with my other relatives over money or the house. I am willing to relocate.
This is anon because some family members know my mefi name.