Wednesday, August 12, 2020

What Happens When a Middle-Aged Writer is Forced to Get a 'Real' Job by Rhonda Frankhouser

I'm sharing my experience in case you find yourself in my unfortunate position. After two blissful years of writing Western Romance full time, I had to look for a ‘real’ job. Let me tell you, it really sucked. I had a degree, tons of experience, but trust me, the phone wasn't ringing off the hook. 

Why?                       Was it because I’m not a perky young recent graduate, ready to bleed for the job? Maybe. But I was still qualified and able to do a wide range of jobs, and I had grown up bills to pay. 
So, what’s a middle aged job seeker to do? Give up? Go on welfare? Oh, hell no, not this cowgirl. It was time for me to pull up my bootstraps and reinvent myself. I may have been around the block a few times, but I still had a lot of good miles in me.
Middle-aged job seekers may not like it, but they need to incorporate some new tricks to get noticed. The days of walking in the front door, and introducing yourself to the hiring manager, are gone. If you can’t get past the automated sorting system on most web sites, you’ll never get an interview.
These are a few of the new tricks of the savvy job seeker. Let’s face it, finding the right job, is the hardest job you’ll ever have. Study, prepare, and use the resources available to you.
Make sure that resume shines. It’s time to be proud of all you know and all you can do for a potential new employer. This is their first, and often, their only insight into YOU. But don't be too wordy, or they'll stop reading before they realize how amazing you really are. If you remember only one thing from this section - remember KEYWORD
Your resume needs to be succinct, goals/accomplishment driven, AND must incorporate keywords derived directly from the company job description, otherwise you'll never get through the computer sorting system. Yes, that means your writing skills will come in handy, because you'll need to tailor/adjust each resume to the job you're applying for. Ugh, right?
There are companies who can make your resume sparkle, but some can be pricey, so be sure to shop around. Friends or family in the professional world could take a peek to see if your resume makes them want to read on. At the very least, research winning resumes online to see samples that have worked for others.
Create, spruce up, and connect on social networks and professional platforms like LinkedInLaddersIndeed, and Careerbuilder, just to name a few. Connect with as many recruiters as you can. Like and follow the companies and key employees you’re applying to and read their stuff. You really need to know what they sell or do. Trust me, it’s embarrassing if you don’t know when they ask.

Use a professional photo. No selfies, please.
Write a professional, targeted bio. Research good bios on LinkedIn, etc. Use professional skills, talents, buzzwords that attract attention. Brag, but don’t be too braggy. People still prefer humble. Change something small everyday on your profile so it comes to the top of your followers feed. Stay in front of potential employers as much as possible. Oh and, keep it tasteful on your social media accounts. Hiring managers do their research. 
Get as many professional recommendations as possible on those sites. Hiring managers like to hear what others have to say about you. It’s even better if those recommendations are easy for them to read right on your profile.
Prepare a quiet, glare-free spot in your home, where you can conduct phone or Zoom interviews. So, I’m saying right now, lock the dogs out. Barking in the background during your much-sought-after interview, could undo all the hard work you’ve put in. Test your equipment. Make sure your phone and/or computer is charged. Test the connection and the angle of the camera. You want to look the very best you can, so be sure to dress professionally, and have a copy of your resume, questions you want to ask, and a notepad with a working writing utensil in front of you.
Study possible interview questions. There are lots and lots of online sites that give insight into basic interview questions to expect. Do yourself a favor, and give those a peek. Practice them, and think of other questions they may ask you.
Prepare your own questions to ask the interviewer. They want to know you’ve done your homework about the company, their leadership, mission statement, job expectations, growth potential, any causes they champion. Knowing all these things shows you’re truly interested in joining their team. By the way, it’s still not appropriate to ask the pay structure at this stage, so hold off. Many add to their initial post, but most still don’t.
Be prepared to substantiate your resume. Interviewers want to know your job history is factual. Don’t say you can speak fluent Spanish, for example, if you barely passed your high school class. They may expect you to prove your capabilities.
Talk to your former supervisors so they are aware you are using them as a professional reference. Nothing worse than them getting a call unawares, then stumbling to provide your information. You may find that the person who supervised you no longer works for the company at all, and you need to use another reference from the company. Don’t make your hiring manager work too hard to confirm your prior employment history.
Sell yourself, but tell the truth. Don’t over state your credentials. The truth always comes out.
Really think about your answers, especially why you think you would be a good fit for their company! And remember — don’t talk over your interviewer!

This list could go on forever, but for more mature folks looking for a job, it’s even more important to be able to express your qualities to potential hiring managers.
Take it seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. In the end, people want to hire likeable, amicable employees. They want to have fun too, so take some deep breaths, and be friendly.
Well, since starting this article, I've landed myself a job. I’m off to learn something new! But never fear, I'll still be writing those beloved Western Romance novels. A girl's gotta have a fantasy world, after all.

Happy Job Hunting!

Rhonda Frankhouser was born and raised on a small farm in central California. She earned her BA in Philosophy with French Literature Minor from California State University, Bakersfield. She spent several years in the securities industry before changing career paths to more altruistic endeavors working with those experiencing end of life issues. After 14 years in hospice management, she now writes full time from her new home in Northeastern Georgia. Rhonda is an award-winning author of mainstream fiction, mystery and paranormal romance. Check out her website at


GiniRifkin said...

Hi and congratulations on the job. You sound like a courageous, never-give-up, lady like the heroines in your stories. A very inspiring post.

Rhonda Frankhouser Books said...

Thank you so much. We do what we have to do and be glad we’re healthy.