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I want to thank the members of this board for letting me vent and comment on this board. You have helped me cope through a few rough and low spots! Now that my father is in a NH and some of the dust has settled.....it is time to contemplate going back to work?! But the last 6 years have changed me. Not for the better. My outlook is sometimes fairly skeptical. I have gained 50 pounds. I feel as though I have aged 20 years. I have become a bit of a hermit. Friends and extended relatives have moved on as they have tired of me saying I cannot go or tired of me venting or being exposed my father's negativity and venom. I just would like to hear of other's experiences in getting back to the workforce. I left a mid management $70K with ben. position that was really interesting. As of today I have a 2 day/week summer job that pays $10/hour and I am worried that I will never even come close to what I used to have. Share your journeys with me please!

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You are in a similar position to parents that leave the workforce and seek to return
Most important questions:
Are you over or under 50? Right or wrong this will be one of the biggest roadblocks. Every year new cheaper workers come in. Your looks will come into play in interviews. Sorry but truth. I know as a CPA that left to parent child with disabilities and even with over 25 years experience i have trouble getting a callback.
Did you keep networking options open? Do people know you and can you re-enter that way? Create a LinkedIn account. Build on it. Clean up any Facebook or other online presence. Make sure no negative online presence holds you back.
Contact the local employment commission and see what services are available. Resume writing, interviewing skills, Internet training, etc. they are paid to help you find work.
For the record at 56 I have 2 part time jobs and have never replaced the title or money. I work two part time jobs. But I have a successful college bound son who will be self supporting. I keep working on trying to improve job, but not terribly hopeful. I can't work 60 hour weeks all the time any more.
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I am hoping. I have provided care for mom with AD and her hubby for four years. I completed my master's degree during that time and continue to take online free courses throough Coursera to upgrade my skills. I have made it through the third phase of a hiring process for a position that will nearly put me where I was four years ago at nearly 100k. Waiting to hear if I make it through this phase and get an interview with the management team. Here's hoping. But, even if I do not get the job it gives me hope. There are other positions out there that I am well qualified for and will keep applying. And my resume put right out front that I have been caregiving for four years which shows a tremendous amount of fortitude and they have no idea how difficult it is in a dysfunctional family!

Wish me success, not luck!
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Another idea while waiting for that new source of employment, do volunteer work in something that you really enjoy.... it will put a smile on your face plus give you a feeling of accomplishment :) And it looks good on a resume.
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"...it really has a corrosive effect: wears you down and starts to erode self esteem and confidence."

MissBee, those words are such a comfort to me. I knew it was happening but wasn't aware that I wasn't alone. Now I know it's not just me that's experiencing this and longing to be back to work for the self confidence and self esteem it gave me (as well as the paycheck!).
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I went straight from the mommy track to the daughter track, and have accepted that, despite a graduate degree, I am never going to have a career in the real sense. I don't have an entrepreneurial streak, am not very adept at technology, don't have that sparkly personality, and age discrimination is a reality, especially for women. I never left the workforce entirely, and now have two part time jobs with no benefits, which is about as good as it is going to get. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer here, but this is a reality for many caregivers.

What might help some is that if you are caring for a family member who has some resources, have them pay you. Think of how much we are saving our care recipients in terms of nursing home costs. This really is something the government should deal with, because we unpaid caregivers save the taxpayers billions, often at the cost to our own health.
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I haven't been in a position to return to part or full time work yet, but I have every intention to. I always planned to work until I physically or mentally couldn't, so I see these caregiving years as a diversion, rather than a detriment or career ender.

As I did when I was working, I try to identify generally what tasks are/were performed as a caregiver, factor out the skills, level of responsibility and problem solving tools used. Then equate them to what you used in your former career, in your temporary 2 day/week job, and how the reinforcement of these skills through caregiving and your current job could benefit a potential employer in a more permanent career.

In addition to skills, identify problems solved, including the ones that can't be solved because those can occur in a paid position as well and often require acceptance of situations that are controlled by outside forces (such as government regulations and funding).

I'm trying to create a base for conversion of caregiving skills to career skills, so I can demonstrate that caregiving is in fact a learning opportunity. Given that so many people see caregiving as a career ender or other negative, demonstrate that you saw it not only as an opportunity to return the love your father showed you, but that you saw it as a growth opportunity as well.

This may sound naïve, and I won't deny that it doesn't require a lot of thought, sometimes very creative thought, but it's also a positive reinforcement tool. Add to that a new exercise program - even just walking helps clear your mind and makes you feel better.

Focus on that aspect – you’re adding to your skills even if you did take a different route to acquire them.

Be prepared to respond to questions on what might happen if your father’s condition changes. Show that you have protocols and backups identified so you can continue working with either no time off or a minimum of that.

Adopt the attitude also that any employee regardless of age and family responsibility may at some time need time off for family or illness (cf. pregnancy, surgery, illness of children), so you’ve strived to create backup that would be comparable to what any other employee might need. Don’t allow anyone to back you into a position of admitting you might have to get FMLA or other leave and that b/c of the caregiving you’re at a disadvantage to any employer.

This happened to me when I interviewed with an elder care law firm and was asked that question. It was clear that despite the fact these attorneys were knowledge in the area, they still saw someone who was a caregiver as a detriment and not a desirable employee. Although I thought it hypocritical, it was business policy for them. And obviously when I needed an elder care law firm, they weren’t even considered!

Good luck; this is a very important issue for caregivers, and I’m anxious to see what others offer. Please do keep us up to date on your progress so we can learn from you as well.
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Just a comment on Guestshopadmins' online suggestions: I've read that employers scrutinize social media and LinkedIn accounts to get an idea what a candidate is like before an interview. GSA's advice is sound - don't post anything that in any way could be misconstrued.

And remember that Facebook uses information for its own purposes. Because of its egregious privacy activity, I would never consider posting anything on it.
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Interesting. I gave up an $80 K per year overseas job with outstanding benefits for minimum wage part-time... In order to be here for my parents and although I have not yet returned to the work place what I have done is arranged several part-time jobs that are aware of my need for flexibility to accomodate my parents needs for now. This means I can work varying times of day and varing days of the week. Ultimately when I can return to work I hope to work in with one of these employers in a higher capacity. (fortunately they all would love to hire me) Then again I am enjoying the variety and could simply add part-time work to fill the week. I doubt I could ever return to my 'former life', I don't feel like I will ever have the required level of energy ever again and I am aware that a break from a specialty is enourmously difficult to overcome. So I move forward. We are all capable of so many things, open your horizons and create a new life. Just my musings on this.
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Keep positive, you never know what is around the corner. I was out of work for about 2 years, and at 65 I wasn't ready to retire. My Dad never quit work to care for his parents, and by golly I wasn't going to do the same, and my parents knew that.

Out of the blue I got a telephone call from someone who I had networked with a couple years ago... he asked if I was available for an interview... I said yes, and the rest is history. At that point I didn't care what the salary was, I wanted to get back into the business world, it was my sanity. And my boss wanted someone with my long background in that field.... plus my age was a bonus, he and I could reminisce about the past :) he couldn't do that with the very much younger employees.

I also agree with what others said above about Facebook and LinkedIn... be careful, clean it up, but don't be surprised if it might still be floating around out in internet land. In fact, not to long ago I deleted myself from LinkedIn as I wasn't getting anything out of that website, it was looking more like a popularity contest to me. As for Facebook, never had an account with them.
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Missbee I noticed your comment about 'meanial part time work'. Its a shame you see it that way. My part time jobs are is as a director of a charity, running a center for small infirm/geriatric birds, and as an accountant. (In addition to caring for my parents). In fact the other part time job I have just left was working with a volunteer fire department as an office administrator (I also volunteered as a firefighter/first responder). I didnt really want to give that up but the others I can if necessary do at home. Perhaps they are meanial jobs to some but I find them all very rewarding.
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