When you talk with upbeat, highly articulate Emily, a 60-something job seeker, you have to wonder: why hasn’t some employer snapped her up for a position that utilizes her impressive people and technical skills?
Earlier in her career, Emily worked for a world-wide tech corporation for 10 years and a custom PC manufacturer and earned degrees in computer engineering and marketing. But about 14 months into her most recent job search, she has run out of money and still has no solid prospects.
What went wrong? A combination of factors contributed to what she terms her “financial demise.”
After leaving the tech world, Emily pursued a long-held passion to become a realtor, but the timing—during the “great recession” and resulting downturn in the housing market— created some insurmountable obstacles.
Emily is also one of the baby boomers whose choice to spend much of her time over a period of several years caring for her chronically ill mother (who passed away in 2014) has further impacted her return to the job market.
In the meantime, Emily lost her home, and struggled to find gainful employment.
Over the past 14 months, Emily estimates she’s sent out resumes to, or personally visited, more than 400 companies in the places she’s lived, including Sonoma County. Even with a stunning resume filled with valuable experience in several fields, those efforts produced just five interviews, but no job.
When she moved to Sonoma County several months ago, a housing arrangement she’d worked out for residency here didn’t last, and she found herself truly homeless. Through sheer resourcefulness and a natural affinity for networking, she’s found places to sleep, receive meals, do her laundry and obtain bus passes. “My physiological needs are met,” says Emily. “Housing and employment are now the top priorities.”
She’s also worked to re-establish forms of communication essential to job hunting, scoring an “Obama Phone” (a program that provides free cell phones, voice minutes and texting to low-income individuals) and visiting all of the agencies in town that provide free computer access.
She recently learned of Sonoma County Job Link, a one-stop shop for career services . She’s attended an Older Workers Networking Group there, and also taken advantage of workshops on setting up a LinkedIn profile and creating a career portfolio. Emily’s actively looking for work in IT support services, real estate, and the administrative assistant field.
Here’s hoping that a prospective employer will take the time to discover the diamond in the rough that is Emily and make her a valued employee