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Tips for rejoining the workforce following divorce

In part one of a four-part series, Toronto family lawyer and divorce recovery coach Leanne Townsend provides tips and strategies for those looking to re-enter the workforce following a divorce.

Going through a divorce brings a plethora of change and a priority is getting finances in order, says Toronto family lawyer and divorce recovery coach Leanne Townsend.

“Financial independence and empowerment are really important and sometimes you may need some help to reach that point,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com.

Townsend says for people who have been married for many years and have given up careers to raise children it can be difficult to get back into the workforce.

“They may find themselves mid-life, divorced and out of the workforce for a long time,” she says.

Going back to work can be challenging, but it is manageable, says Townsend, who also offers a five-week divorce recovery coaching program.

“It’s not as overwhelming as it might feel to somebody in this situation,” she says. Townsend, principal of Townsend Law, says one must first realize that finding a job in today’s marketplace has changed considerably in the last decade or so.

“It’s important to make sure you take a proactive approach, versus what might have worked 10 or 20 years ago,” she says. “We’re in a competitive world so applying to a job posting you see in a newspaper may not be enough.”

Townsend says the divorcee may never have applied to an online posting so he or she may need to acquire some new skills to be successful.

She cautions against falling into a passive approach, such as sitting in front of a computer for two hours and sending off applications through an online portal.

“That approach may work on some occasions, but you have to be more proactive than that. You have to call people, follow up and set meetings, if possible,” Townsend says.

If you simply apply online, your application is competing against the thousands that may have been submitted for the position, she says.

“The pool of applicants online is larger than it might have been had a company just advertised in a newspaper so you have to find ways to distinguish yourself,” Townsend says.

It's a good idea to target companies you'd like to work at because there are many jobs that aren’t advertised at all, she says.

Townsend warns that job searching can be a blow to self-esteem at a time when it may already be low following a divorce.

“With coaching, we work on self-confidence and we strategize on ways to find meaningful employment,” she says. “I can even help with writing a resume or cover letter and the best approach to securing a job.”

Townsend also assists candidates get ready for interviews with role-playing exercises that help prepare them to meet potential employers.

“You can be overwhelmed with everything that’s happening in your new world so working with someone to ensure you are fully prepared for what’s to come in a job search can be empowering,” she says. “Coaching can be really helpful. The coach can be the guiding point for someone who is under stress.”

She says a person may sometimes just need to get a job quickly to make ends meet and that’s OK.

“Don’t beat up on yourself if you don’t get a dream job right away. You’re still getting experience in the workforce and using your skills,” Townsend says.

When parents rejoin the workforce after being at home for a long period, it can also have an impact on their children, she says.

“It can be an adjustment for the kids. Not only are they dealing with a divorce and perhaps moving to a new home, but now the primary caregiver going back to work,” Townsend says. “This is something you need to do and your children will understand when they are older, even if they don’t understand at the time.”

For any of these issues, she says a coach can help someone who is now divorced put a plan in place and gain confidence.

“Don’t be afraid to reach out for help,” Townsend says. “Once someone gains employment, they’ll start to feel good about making money again. It also provides a social outlet for those who may be feeling isolated. There are many benefits to going back to work.”

Stay tuned for part two of the series where Townsend will explore how to get a handle on finances as a single person.

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