Returning to work after a divorce

Originally posted on Yahoo Shine 

by Carol Fishman Cohen

Returning to work after a career break, or "relaunching," in the face of a
divorce brings special challenges. You may have immediate financial
need and feel especially emotionally vulnerable. But you
shouldn't be any less strategic than if you were
returning to work for other reasons. See
this blog post
for a
summary of the "7 Steps to Relaunch
Success," the strategy my co-author Vivian Steir Rabin
and I developed for returning to work after a career break as part
of the research for our career reentry strategy book Back on
the Career Track

The 7 Steps framework provides an order to the relaunch process
and helps you maintain momentum. But if divorce precipitated your
relaunch, there are a couple of important tweaks to the process you
will want to consider. The first is, because of
immediate financial need, and/or a need for benefits, you may have
to take an interim, not-quite-perfect job while you continue
strategizing for your true relaunch opportunity.
Normally, we caution relaunchers not to jump at the first job
opportunity because they fear there might not be
another. But if immediate income is a necessity,
we would opt for this interim step of taking a job to pay the bills
and buying yourself some time while you go through the rest of the
relaunch process, especially Step 3: Assess Your Career

Our approach to assessing your career options is a process of
examining each of your prior, significant work and volunteer
experiences and breaking them into components.
Identify those components of each prior experience that you
love doing and at which you excel. Collect
those, and use them as the building blocks for your new career path
when you relaunch. We found that relaunchers who
went through the Assess Your Career Options process ended up in one
of three camps: 1) they were on the right career path to begin with
and returned to exactly what they left, 2) they enjoyed their prior
career but felt there was something about it that was now
incompatible with their life stage, so they returned to a different
role in the same field, or 3) they realized they were not on the
right career path to begin with, so they relaunched in an entirely
new direction.

The second tweak to
the process is to add extra interview prep because of your
vulnerable emotional state, which varies from person to
person. The women we interviewed who were
relaunching careers following a divorce occasionally reported
breaking down during an interview. So if you are
interviewing for a number of jobs, prioritize them from most
desirable to least, and try to interview for the least desirable
position first. That way, you can get the tears "out of your system" without
jeopardizing your chances at your top-choice
employer. Alternatively, lots
of mock interviews with friends will help you prepare yourself

The most important
point to keep in mind is not to lose sight of your
goal. If you take an intermediate, not- so-perfect job to pay the bills, make sure you remain focused on your
strategy to make your next work opportunity the beginning of your
true career relaunch.

A good resource covering a range of topics relating to divorce is Also see this
quote from Marge Stockford
in our Relaunch Perspectives

Photo credit:

Carol Fishman Cohen and Vivian Steir Rabin are the co-authors of
the acclaimed career reentry book Back on the Career Track: A
Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work
, and
the co-founders of iRelaunch , a company providing
career reentry programming, events, and information to employers,
universities, organizations and to mid-career professionals in all
stages of career break.

For more information on Relaunching, see iRelaunch and check out Back on
the Career Track
Carol and Vivian can
be reached at


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