20-Something Question: Starting and Starting Over After Divorce

Q. I have 2 children aged 3 and 1.  I am getting divorced.  I am originally from the UK so my degree isn’t really transferable (its an undergraduate law degree).  I am happy here but need to get a job, I have no family here, haven’t worked in years.  And I have no confidence about jobs or men. Any advice would be welcome.

A. Support, skills, strengths…and talking about yourself.  It’s tough to start over after a divorce and in essence start your career with two young children at home.  It can be daunting but it can be done.  Just take it one step at a time. You will find strengths that you didn’t even know you had. And now more than ever you have the Internet on your side as this woman noted in another post, “In today’s world of virtual networking, you can create your own network from home.”   Here are some first steps to start.

1. Get support. 

Make sure you get a lawyer and fair support from your soon-to-be-ex. Become savvy about your finances. A good resource for financial advice for women are both DailyWorth, LearnVest and Go-Girl Finance. And be sure to check out Huffington Post Divorce and Sarah Levitt’s website on divorce recovery.

2. Identify your strengths.

You may not have worked in years but you have developed skills and you do have strengths. Regardless of the country…you do have a law degree. The fact that you did it, counts. And don’t shortchange the skills you have applied being a mom – from patience to flexibility to multi-tasking to perhaps being more mature than someone who hasn’t gone through a major life experience such as marriage and divorce.

Start by figuring out what your strengths are and research jobs where these skills could be applied. Grab a friend and have her brainstorm with you. Sometimes others can see our strengths better than we can. What are you interested in? Try to build a bridge between the skills you have and what you would enjoy doing and where there is a need for it.

3. Get skills.

If you need to get skills to do what you want…get them. Look for training, online classes, certifications.  At a recent 7×7 mentoring event that I held the subject of computer coding came up.  Increasingly this is being seen as an important and differentiating skill to have even in fields that aren’t tech related. It can also afford some flexibility.  As one woman shared, “I earned money all through my pregnancy and was coding while breastfeeding.”  It’s a job you can do from home and there are low-cost, female friendly options to learn it. Check out Girl Develop It, Codeacademy, Skillcrush and more.

4. Try Something.

Many people advise 20-somethings who have no experience to just get a job. It’s a lot easier to find your passion when you have a salary than when you don’t. So if you don’t have an answer after points 1 + 2 + 3…get a job.

Have you explored working as an admin at a law firm to get your feet wet and explore the options in law? Volunteer. This can help you gain contacts and develop skills that qualify for your resume as relevant experience.  Or you could try temping. It can get you out in the world and is a great way to start ramping up your talents and again….make contacts. You never know what it might turn into as this woman says:

“Work for temp agencies. You can try different things and hopefully find something you enjoy. One day after I was temping for a while I walked into a job and within thirty minutes of being there I was like, ‘This is where I’m supposed to be.’ I talked to a bunch of people there, worked hard and ended up with a full-time job. I never would’ve even been considered if I had interviewed through the normal process because I had no experience, but they got to see that I did a good job.” – 40-something, Los Angeles

Another option is to check out some of the direct sales jobs you can do from home. Stella & Dot and CAbi offer flexible ways to be at home with your child and start to earn some money.

5. Build an advisory panel.

Think of everyone, absolutely everyone you know…and make a list. Then tell them all that you are looking and what you are looking for. Ask for recommendations, referrals and advice. In fact, tell everyone that you meet that you are looking. One woman I interviewed got her first job in graphic design while away for a weekend at a wedding. Filling in some time , she was playing pool at a local bar and met someone who gave her the lead that started her career. People make connections in all sorts of random places from the line at the school bus stop to a random conversation at the gym. Talk yourself up!

6. Get online to get offline.

Research meet-ups and networking events in fields you are interested in. Try to bucket together interesting events that fall into the same timeframe so it will be easier to get a baby sitter.  Then start networking. A warm lead is better than a cold one.

7. Surround yourself with amazing people.

Are there mom groups in your area? What about an alumni group for your UK college or other UK affiliations? Women in your neighborhood. Take every opportunity you can to meet people and talk about your job search and get support and advice. It may be hard to take that first step but generally people will welcome someone into their circle (and people love to talk about themselves so ask away about how they got to where they are in life).

8.  Read.

Try Dare Dream Do by Whitney Johnson. A great resource for realizing that it is your right to dream…and then to find out what your dream is and actualize it! Your local library will have a slew of books on career and the web is a great resource.

After all that…you will have more confidence and maybe be ready to meet new people in your life…and perhaps you will have met some along the way.

Good luck!

on Twitter

on Facebook

on Google+