Returning to the Work Force? How to Get a Job

Celebrate ... have a networking party. Yes, have a party. This is hard-core networking disguised as fun. You don't need anything fancy or expensive; it could be a Saturday afternoon of cocoa and cookies. Since people are your best source of job leads, invite friends, family, neighbors -- reach out to the parents of your kid's friends, the people you go to church with. Instead of asking them to bring a dish like they would do for a potluck, ask them to bring an idea, connection, resource or job lead. Ask them to cheer you on as you embark on this exciting new journey. Make it fun so everyone wants to rally around and support your efforts. Nobody likes a pity party, but they certainly like rooting for someone who's facing a challenge with great gusto and determination. And since these people know you and your character, and like you and trust you, they'd be a big help in making introductions and even serving as references.

Be realistic about money. Maybe you really want $35,000, but you're only offered positions that pay $30,000, so you turn them down flat. Then months and months go by and you're still not making a penny. But if you had taken the job -- even at the lower salary -- there's a good chance that you'd be on your way to a promotion. Or at the very least, during that time, you wouldn't have accumulated more debt.

Obviously, you want to negotiate for as much as possible, but even if the opportunity isn't exactly what you want, think about how you might be able to use it as a stepping stone to something better, especially while you're building current work history. Just because you take one job doesn't mean you must be wedded to it forever.

Keep an eye on your skills and affiliations. We buy life insurance not because we think we're going to die tomorrow, but because we want to secure our financial future in the event of the unthinkable. The same theory applies to married women who don't work outside their homes. I would never say, "Hurry, get a job because your husband will eventually leave you." That's a terrible message. But I would say what all the divorced women I interviewed told me: In retrospect, they wish they had kept their hand in something professional -- even if it wasn't full-time. Consider attending a monthly meeting in your industry, reading trade papers, having an occasional lunch with a former colleague, and taking on freelance or part-time projects to maintain somewhat-current experience.

Tory Johnson is the CEO of Women For Hire and the Workplace Contributor for "Good Morning America."

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