Office worker on phoneGoing back to work as you enter your 50’s after years of family care is a daunting prospect, and you may feel at a loss where to start. You could have been out of the loop for only a few years to see your children through secondary school and exams, or you may not have worked since you had them, in which case it could be 20 years or more. Or perhaps you were caring for an elderly relative or are recently divorced or widowed.

In any case the chances are that to some degree you will feel nervous, lack confidence and have perfectly understandable self doubt about your own abilities– wondering what skills you have to offer and what the workplace is like nowadays. But you will have unwittingly gained life skills that will be useful in both paid and voluntary work.

While your past work experience can be a valuable asset, don’t let it limit your vision of the future. The workplace you left is not likely to be the same one you’ll return to. Make yourself work – savvy by studying your own strengths, needs, and aspirations as well as the current state of the work market. The aim is to find interesting and fulfilling work, and if paid you want a good salary. The secret? Refresh your existing skills and research the workplace.

Becoming a volunteer can be personally rewarding and help you to ‘give something back’ to your community. Volunteers can choose from thousands of different opportunities, from co-ordinating street collections, or acting as area liason manager for fundraising groups, to becoming a Samaritan or Magistrate.

You are more likely to impress at a job interview if you wear make up and have had a good haircut as you will come over as smarter. It will also make you feel more confident. Don’t forget lipstick in moderation too. If your make up style feels stale go to a make up counter and ask to be made up – there is no obligation to buy.

You also need to think about work-life balance so that you are able to manage the demands of your new job as well as all the other things going on in your life at the moment. Talk with your partner, children, or other people likely to be affected by your decision, as the change you want to make in your life will impact on them. Tell them how important it is to you to have their support, and in a practical way too.

Delegate some household duties! It is not fair for your family to expect you to juggle all that you do now, plus a job on top.  This may also be the time to jettison some things which you are doing to make time for your new job – the chances are that you have been leading a full life while you have not been working and you will need to make time for your new life.