Salute to Spouses Blog

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Work after retirement - the highs and lows of finding a job for life

I’ve applied for nearly 20 jobs in the past six months since we decided to live in Florida. Some I’ve even applied for twice.


I’ve had two interviews, but no offers.


My husband recently asked me how I deal with all that rejection. My reply?


“Welcome to my life. This is what I’ve been doing for 27 years.”


With each PCS, we military spouses reinvent ourselves. We fill new roles, either in the military unit or at our kids’ schools or in community organizations we join. And in our jobs.


Many of us, including me, start from the bottom each time we PCS and never really have much time to move up the career ladder.


We adapt. We overcome. We make it work.


But doing that after retirement seems harder and even more exhausting.


Since we won’t necessarily be moving every two years anymore, I won’t have that chance to reinvent myself. I potentially could be in a job for three, five, even 10 years. I will be expected to grow in my position and continue to contribute to the organization.


I won’t just be treading water, trying to keep my skills at least minimally fresh, until the next move and the next opportunity.


I might actually be able to build something. And while that’s exciting, it’s also incredibly intimidating.  


There are no more excuses.


Add to that the fact that I am 50 years old, and was told straight up by someone working in one office where I applied that the hiring authority was “looking for someone younger.”




I’m a journalist by trade. I’ve written for some of the largest newspapers in the country. I’ve covered everything from the local school spelling bee to war in a far-flung corner of Asia. I’ve been full-time on staff at several newspapers and one military public affairs office, and I’ve freelanced extensively between jobs.


I’ve also recently expanded my resume by getting a professional certificate in social media management, and volunteering for a local community organization to get more on-the-job experience in that area.


I’m good at what I do, but sometimes that’s hard to translate to a job application or interview, especially when you have been out of the workplace for a few years raising kids or moving across the country and the world.


My last full-time job was in 2012, and I didn’t really have to interview or apply for it. It just kind of fell in my lap.


My recent job interviews here were in November and January. I still keep going over the questions in my head, over and over, and laughing at some of my own answers. Here’s a sampling of interviewer questions, and a summary of my responses:


Interviewer: “Tell us about yourself.”


Me: “Well, you’ll notice some gaps in my resume. That’s because I lived all over the world as a military spouse. But my husband recently retired and we are settling down here now. As you can also see from my resume, my job experience includes …”


Interviewer: “What are your short term goals for this position?”


Me: “To become a subject-matter expert in the areas under my scope of responsibility.”


Interviewer: “What are your long-term goals for this position?”


Me: “Wow, I’ve never been anywhere long enough to set long-term goals before. I’m excited about that!”


Interviewer: “Describe a time when you did something “out of the box” at work.”


Me: “Hmmm … let me think about that one for a minute …”


Interviewer: “Describe a time when you collaborated with others, and highlight any projects where you took the lead.”


Me: “I often lead discussions in the workplace.”


Interviewer: “Describe your supervisory experience.”


Me: “I have none.”


Interviewer: “Why do you want to work for this organization?”


Me: “Who wouldn’t want to work for this organization!?!?”


Yes, I really answered that last question that way. 


After all this, I’ve decided to change my focus and be inspired by these interview questions. I’m taking all that rejection and pouring it into my growing freelance business.


I’m thinking out of the box by looking at different ways to make money through writing – last week I worked with a PR firm covering a big medical equipment convention near where I live. 


I’m setting both short- and long-term goals for my own business, and collaborating with peers, contacts and former co-workers and supervisors to make it happen.


And as for that last interview question, I thought of a much better answer 30 minutes later on my way home.

Isn’t that the way it always goes?

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