My Job Search As An Older Woman & Caregiver

My Fears & Perspective In This New Timeline

I hesitated to put all that in the title because I didn’t want to risk some potential employer doing their internet search on me and finding out my age or my marital status or that I have caregiving restrictions that keep me close to home. But, then I realized that this is the internet and if they really want to know about me, it’s not exactly hard to find out anything they want. The internet is forever, as we know.

I feel like I’ve been out of work for forever. In reality it’s been a week (go read my series on Time: A Social Construct). What a week it’s been. I’ve been very busy – some may say I’ve been avoiding the emotions, I say I’ve been putting them to good use. I’ve cleared out my office. I’ve rearranged furniture. I’ve torn down a book case and fixed some flooring. I reworked my budget, built this website, and have been working on my resume. I finished watching and taking notes on a mental health program I started 6 weeks ago and I’m taking care of the “legal” and “financial” items that need to be looked at by month’s end.

I have set up a spreadsheet to track my job search and I have even applied for one job already (even without a perfect resume) and have made contact on another job (still looking for a contact in that company).

Phew! I have been busy!

Next week I will start the job hunt in earnest. As they say, looking for a job is a job. Which brings me to the topic at hand. I wonder how much my marital status, age, and position in life will impact my hunt.

Being my age is going to be a struggle to overcome. I know this. I have a ton of life and work experience that is hard to put into a resume. As an example, I set up my account at the unemployment job search site. They wanted me to put in the job titles I want to search for. But they don’t have the things I do and have done: content writer, customer success director, community strategist (not the city planner type of community but in the online tech community type of community), manager – professional services implementation, and other assorted titles that are apparently made up according to my state’s job listing site.

I can’t hide my age. No matter what, I can’t pass for 40. Not in person and not in resume.

Add to that the fact that I really need to work remotely so that I can be here when mom’s caregiver is done with her shift. She works 9-5 Monday through Friday. And mom lives with me so I am the defacto caregiver. Just last Friday we had an incident where I had to make decisions and get her to the ER at 4 in the afternoon. If I was working in office, that would have been untenable. Yes, the caregiver could have called the ambulance (and she did), but she’s done at 5 unless we pre-arrange things. It’s my responsibility to meet the ambulance at the hospital. I take my role as POA very seriously.

So let’s look at job requirements (and “culture” statements) and decipher how they’re written. HR departments have strict laws that they have to follow when setting down requirements. They put their preferences into their statements about what kind of “attitude” or “qualities” they see as valuable in order to not violate employment law. I gave a session at PSU MacAdmins on this topic. Putting my potty mouth aside, I speak to this and many other DEI issues. We had a great time talking about a very serious topic.

Once we get past the age problem, then there’s the issue of being a caregiver. This one has me worried a lot, I won’t lie. I have spent the last few years listening to employers talk about how “nobody wants to work” or “people only want to work from home because they’re lazy” when what they mean is “we don’t want to pay people enough to come into the office.” The research shows that workers are absolutely more productive at home than at work. Additionally, they’re happier and have higher job satisfaction than their in-office counterparts. Workers who are happy with their job, are….yep, you guess it….more productive. In fact, they are 33% more productive.

All that said, that I have to worry about balancing taking a job in an office and adequately caring for my mother is wrong. When I look at it from a lifelong perspective, my income suffered in my younger years because I was caring for my children and now because I’m caring for my mother. Hybrid and in-office scenarios penalize women and caregiving adults.

This is a systemic issue and I, for one, would like to see it solved.

Today, August 15, is Moms Equal Pay Day. My gosh. This should NOT be necessary, for cryin’ out loud. Close the gender pay gap. Normalize work from home wherever possible. Hire the best people for the job. Don’t throw away valuable resources based on a couple of wrinkles and hair color.

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Pam is an experienced MSP-owner and IT consultant. Most recently she was a content writer, writing about IT admin life and tech. When not working, Pam spends her time with her dog, visiting her kids across the country, and being creative with yarn (though she's learning other crafts as well).

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