Advice for someone re-entering the work force

Subject: Advice for someone re-entering the work force
From: Mary Headley <mkheadley80503 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2008 10:02:55 -0700 (PDT)


A friend who I used to work when we were both technical writers has asked for advice about re-entering the work force after 20 years . My friend hasn't had paid employment since 1987, when she quit working to raise her children, although she has done a variety of volunteer work for churches, schools, and several social service agencies. She has done no writing since then other than the occasional letter. She has not kept her computer skills up-to-date, although she knows the basics of using Word. She is in her mid-50s and has a master's in communications.

Because of a pending divorce, she has been told by her husband's attorney that she could easily find a good-paying technical writing job in the Denver area, although she may have to start at a lower level than she was in 1987. The expectation from her soon-to-be ex (who is look to avoid paying any kind of spousal support, even though he's rich) is that it would be both easy and profitable for her to find a technical writing job again.

Does anyone have any feel for how easy it might be for someone in this situation to find a technical writing job in today's market? If so, what range of salary might she expect? What kind of positions or companies would it make sense for her to target? My friend has gray hair and uses a hearing aid. How much "ageism" is she likely to encounter in this field? Would it perhaps make more sense for her to try to parlay her volunteer work for social service agencies into work in that area?

I'm thinking she should take some classes in MS Office (Word, Office, PowerPoint) at a minimum. Are there other classes you think are critical? (She doesn't have a lot of time or money to spend on more education.)

Any thoughts or perspective you can share would be much appreciated, as I'm pretty biased in this situation.



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