I truly began to understand the meaning of fake it until you make it when I found myself in hot water for not replying to a meeting request in Outlook. Outlook hadn’t been invented the last time I played corporate games.
The reason I was dressed in black and wearing heels for the first time in 10 years, and literally shaking in said heels was an interview. This was something that hadn’t happened in more than 20 years.
My back to work story
My marriage broke down, and at 48 I realised that the only way forward was for me to get a job that paid well. I had my qualifications and lots of life experience, but nothing currently corporate.
There are a few things I did that really paid dividends:
- I paid someone to write-up my CV – CV styles change, and it is honestly the best investment.
- I bought some corporate clothes – it really is true that you must dress for the job (and salary) that you want.
- Brush up on your IT skills. Absolutely everything had changed in the time I was out of the loop. Although I used a computer at home I needed some up-skilling.
- Learn a bit of jargon – it seems trite, but it really helps to fit in.
- Study – read blogs, articles and anything you can get your hands on – especially if you are aiming at a particular industry.
- Set up a twitter account and start following industry leaders
- Set up and work on your LinkedIn account. LinkedIn is basically your online CV and really important. Use the CV created (see above) as a guide. These two should really match..
- Google yourself – your prospective employers will do this, so be aware of might come up.
- Check your Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest – and delete anything you don’t want to be found.
Subsequent to going back to work I trained in Personal Branding Coaching – you can find out more about this here. We all have a brand and going back to work – you need to be aware of this and craft a brand that works for you.
Back to work Tips from Teenagers
My son, at 16 was my back to work coach. ‘Stop worrying about what you are going to wear Mom, you need to study for your interview’. Really? I had never studied for an interview before, so I took to Google and researched common interview questions. I found out that you also need to research the company, and have your own set of questions prepared.
Once I had the study part done, he did advise me on what to wear, and it meant leaving my hippy arty clothes in the cupboard.
Armed with my homework and wearing my new outfit I set off for my interview. Literally shaking inside, I kept reminding myself that I had run my own business, and I had started a business in Ireland and marketed it with absolutely no budget. I might be older than all the other candidates, but that could be turned into a positive too.
I surprised myself (and a few others) by nabbing myself a job in corporate financial research as a marketing manager – after a very long spell out of the corporate world. This was only just the beginning.
A sandwich, and a briefcase doesn’t necessarily crack it.
The first day of work I was literally shaking. I got dressed twice despite having chosen my clothes the night before. My confidence wasn’t great, my marriage was in tatters and I was taking a huge step into the unknown.
It was horrible. I am not going to pretend otherwise. I arrived at work, was shown my desk and that was it. Almost everyone in the office was more than 20 years younger than me, and they didn’t speak to me. (There was a reason for this but I didn’t find out for months).
My new boss who was based in London flew over to meet me, which helped somewhat but the truth was I was very out of my depth. I was receiving emails and meeting notifications and having to figure out the internal communication system, while smiling and acting like I had everything under control.
It does get better
The following day my marketing colleague and boss headed back to London and I was on my own. On my own with my good friend Google. I googled everything and learnt fast.
The easiest part of the learning curve was applying everything I knew about marketing to financial research which was a new industry for me. The hardest part was learning how to deal with difficult people and office politics. I also learnt to trust myself and to follow my own instincts.
My back to work story got better and better. Like a baby bird (of 48) I learnt to fly, and to proudly put forward my opinions and follow those instincts.
During lunchtime I had a sandwich at my computer and taught myself everything about modern marketing. I learnt how to harness social media and how to convert the basics of research into an online accessible web portal.
Looking back I am really proud of what I achieved. I am now retired for medical reasons but I can look back and know that I did it! Yes, I went back to the work in the corporate world and succeeded.
Thank you for reading my story.