Last year, June 2016, my world changed dramatically as my life took on a whole new look. What began as my giddy "new life" excitement quickly moved to the back seat in the reality mobile?
I was unaware of the challenges I would face and had not anticipated the roller coaster ride of emotions that would accompany me on this journey. I began my blog Mama Tatuley in an effort to share, not only, my journey but with a goal to spread a little laughter along the way. For those of you who may not know, I had recently exited the world of “self-employment”, got my “sexy” on with a new do and embraced the role of “job seeker”. Unfortunately, the “job seeker” category is where fantasy and truth began to collide.
I had assumed, and yes, I am well aware of what happens when one assumes, securing a decent paying job might take a little time, but wouldn't be that difficult. I was certain that being technology savvy, possessing years of experience, expert level skills and being part of a large network of business professionals would ensure that job offers would just roll-in. To say I was naive would be a gross understatement. No amount of planning or preparation could not have prepared me for this journey, and I soon discovered that I wasn't alone!
With my goals set, my plan in place and my ducks in a row, I was ready to begin my search…. or so I thought! My search began with visiting websites of area businesses where I thought my skills, talents and experience would be a good fit. That made sense….right? I soon discovered that many business websites were not kept up-to-date, did not have a career link or simply did not have any posted openings.
No problem, I am Mama Tatuley and I am resourceful, if I am nothing else. It was time to move on to the infamous Job Boards. Job Boards simply ask What and Where? Easy peasy….right?
BAM! – Hello reality!
What I viewed shocked me! This was unbelievable! Companies, some of them big, multi-million dollar companies, advertising for positions that required EXPERT level skills in computer programs, communication and management with an annual salary of….wait for it…..$22,000 to $25,000, depending on experience. What? Did I really read that correctly? Are you kidding me? This was more than unacceptable, it was….detestable!
As I searched the list of "openings", I soon realized that this seemed to be the going pay rate in my area. Presenting a salary as annual income of $22,000 to $25,000 doesn’t disguise the fact that it equates to only $10 to $12 an hour? I made more than that in 1981 and, from what I had read, I could have flipped burgers for more than that. Of course, the cost of EVERYTHING is more than it was in 1981 and perfecting those skills required training, education, time, practice and experience to reach EXPERT level! Give me a royal break.
I was about to learn a lot and I did learn…….fast! Unbeknownst to me, I soon discovered that many of my friends and colleagues were also pounding the proverbial employment search pavement only to find the path riddled with disappointment, false hopes and defeat.
These women were from different walks of life. Some were highly educated and many held advanced degrees, but ALL had years of experience and a wide range of skills. Despite their achievements, past accolades and impeccable employment history, each had received the same unwelcome reception from the business community ........ NOTHING! With each application submission, they waited and hoped for an interview that rarely materialized.
As I spoke with each of them, I could see the look of sheer despair in their eyes. Their drive, motivation and ambition had literally been sucked out of them. As I listened to their stories, I could identify only one common denominator….. they were all women over 50; then it hit me, yikes, so am I! My mind was racing. I thought to myself, there has to be something else? This cannot be true, can it? This was unfathomable; no, no, no, I kept telling myself, this cannot be real, not in this day and age.
So, I did what I do best. I began to research the data and to my surprise, the results were staggering, and frightening. I discovered article after article reflecting the dismal hiring statistics for women over 50. One article even offered up a suggestion that women over 50 should consider starting a business! Whaaaat?
Apparently, this has been a serious issue for a long time, so why am I just hearing about this? Why wasn’t this information a topic of discussion during the political debates? Why wasn’t this covered in the news?
Let me put it this way, whoever penned the saying “50 is the new 30” must not have been an age 50+ female seeking employment. (Side note: Before any male readers get your big boy pants in a bunch, rest assured that I’m not saying it’s easy for men over 50 to find “make a living wage” employment, I am saying that from my vantage point, it appears to be easier.)
I wondered....now what? Obviously, the powers that be could care less, so do we, women over 50, cower and hide and say “oh well”! Hell no! It’s time to stand our ground, recognize our value and refuse to settle! Women have a tendency to accept less because we are afraid not too; and sadly, companies allow us to do just that. We fear the unknown and worry that another offer may not come along, so we settle.
Last year, I concluded that the only way to make change is to make some noise, and I did. I wanted to make clear the value of employing time invested experience and here are just a few:
So, as promised, here it is, my journey update, one year later. I accepted a position at a financial institution last July and I must admit, I thoroughly enjoy a steady paycheck, benefits and the decreased stress (luxuries that weren't afforded to me as a business owner). That said, I miss certain aspects of my former "business owner" world, such as networking with other business leaders and the ability to control my own schedule.
What's my point! Regardless, of your age or your circumstances, celebrate and continue to move forward. Keep in mind that age does not determine success, mindset does! Understand that obstacles will continue to try and block the path; however, for me, I choose to jump over or crawl under them, but rest assured, I will get beyond them!
Stay tuned, as the journey continues................................................................................