The Career Doctor™
by Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez
Looking for a first job? Thinking of changing careers?
Facing a lay-off? The Career Doctor™ is a Larchmont psychologist
specializing in career counseling. If you'd like to ask a question of
your own, use the anonymous ,
and she might answer you here. Read more about the Career Doctor here.
Contact in ation is here.
HOW DO I GET BACK IN THE MAINSTREAM?
Dear Career Doctor:
I'm a 55-year old woman who quit a career and moved to Larchmont to
raise my special needs child. Now my child is more independent and doesn't
require my full-time attention. Unfortunately, I had no time to do much
volunteer work or make any social connections. I'm very socially isolated
because children rejected my child and their parents seemed to reject
I do not know how to make small talk and have very few of the interests
that seem to be popular here such as charity dinners, dances, fashion
shows, tennis, etc. I tried a book club but it was very cliquish and
the people's families all socialized with each other. I don't cook so
don't invite anyone over for dinner. In other words, I don't fit in
and don't know how to start.
Therefore, I have no references from previous jobs of 19 years ago,
or character references because I've lost touch with people. I don't
know how to write a resume to explain I've spent 19 years raising a
child with very difficult needs which required at least 18 hours of
work and attention each day. I don't know how to project enthusiasm
or what to say in an interview.
Your problem is a common one for committed caretakers who, in devoting
all their time to helping a loved one, forget to save some time for
themselves. It also sounds like you have another common problem: resentment
that life has given you such a raw deal. I don't blame you if you feel
that way, but it is the first thing you have to put aside if you want
to make new friends, find meaningful work, and learn to make small talk.
As for small talk: there are a number of books available describing
"how to talk to people." I just typed that phrase into Amazon's search
engine and up popped a large choice. Dale Carnegie made a fortune with
one of the classics, How to Win Friends and Influence People. That book
shares a powerful secret of small and large talk: if you find something
you genuinely like about a person and let them know it, they will like
I've lived in Larchmont for many years, and am happy to report that
there are loads of people who are actively engaged in a wide variety
of meaningful volunteer activities. The League of Women Voters is always
looking for people to help with their important studies. Every house
of worship has outreach committees that serve the needy and study groups
that discuss important issues. Political parties need volunteers --
especially in this important election year -- on the local, state and
national level. And then there are always opportunities to meet people
in cooking classes.
As for a resume, you don't have to explain the gap. Many people take
time out to care for children. But you do have to show what skills you
can bring back to the workplace. If you feel your only skills these
days involve taking care of children, and you don't want to do that
professionally, you have several options. One is to go back to school:
pick up some courses that will give you needed skills or a degree. The
other, is to get a job in one of the local stores, where you simply
have to work the cash register/computer and be helpful to customers.
This might help you meet people and get back into the mainstream.
The Career Doctor
The Career Doctor™ is Larchmont
psychologist and career counselor, Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez.
Her office is at 90 Beechtree Drive in Larchmont, 914-834-1982.