Don’t Let the Age Issue Rattle You. Be a Snowball in the Desert.

On New Year’s Day, I was enjoying the distant view of white-capped mountains as I ran along a desert trail in Red Rock Canyon, just outside Las Vegas. It was a clear morning, with bright warm sun and Joshua trees all around me. It didn’t feel much like the winters I’ve come to know back east, with their freezing temps, snow and ice.  I climbed a slightly elevated trail of dirt and sand and then it appeared: a small patch of brilliant white snow, sitting trailside, all alone. I stopped in my tracks to take in this lovely but unexpected image.

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The First 100 Days in Your Relaunch Position: Paving the Way for Success

After a challenging eight-month job search, Lily P., a former arts publication editor with a twelve-year career break, finally landed a position as a development officer at a major cultural institution in New York. In the three weeks leading to her start date, she organized her home, her kids’ schedule, and her new work wardrobe. She sent emails updating and thanking the dozens of people who’d helped her with referrals, advice, and encouragement during her search. But three days before her start date, she had a moment of panic.

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How She Built It: Approaching an Employer about Developing a Returnship

Are you a relauncher who would love to land a returnship with an employer but haven’t been able to? Perhaps there are no returnship programs in your targeted industry or in your commutable radius. Or maybe you want to work for a small employer, and view returnships as more a feature of large employers. Maybe you applied for a returnship but, after a competitive and rigorous selection process, didn’t get an offer.

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A Special Brand of Relaunchers: Military Spouses

Imagine wanting to relaunch or continue your career but your spouse’s work requires moving every two to three years, often to remote or rural places without many opportunities. Imagine that your spouse must leave the country for several months at a time -- for work that makes you sometimes worry about their safety and wellbeing -- while you act as sole parent or caregiver without any family nearby.

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How to Ace the ‘Tell Me About Yourself' Question and Set Yourself Apart

No matter how it’s worded or where you hear it, if you’re relaunching, you’ll be asked by someone to tell about yourself.  It may be at a barbecue, an informational interview, a college reunion, a screening interview or a conference. Depending on the context, this question could be asked as: 

  • What should I know about you?
  • What’s your background?
  • How can I help you today?
  • Do you work outside the home?
  • Tell me in your own words, who is [your name]?
  • Tell me about yourself.


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The Road Back to Wellness and Work: Relaunching After an Illness

In the last ten years, the dialogue about the value of the relauncher talent pool has shed a bright light on the fact that many talented, competent people take career breaks at various points in their working lives.  This conversation has led to a long overdue legitimization of the reasons for these breaks: to care for children, elderly parents, ill spouses or partners -- or even to write novels or pursue world travel.  Resourceful relaunchers know that they must put a positive spin on the reasons for their career breaks in marketing themselves to prospective employers.  But

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Don’t Just Say Thank You: Effective Interview Follow Up

Have you ever come home from a round of relaunch interviews and all you wanted to do was kick off your shoes, take off your suit and relax on the living room sofa? After all, interviews require extensive preparation and a tremendous output of energy. After some rest and recovery, you likely fired off that obligatory thank you note.  You’d written it dozens of times before: 

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A Relauncher’s Salary History: To Share or Not to Share

Nancy, a financial technology sales professional, took an 8-1/2 year career break to parent her two children and was preparing to relaunch in the same industry.  She was excited about a job posting for an ideal position at a major media firm that would allow her to use her stellar sales skills and develop expertise in new areas.  When filling out the online application, though, she hit a brick wall: Salary History.  Concerned that her dated salary would automatically deflate any possible future one, Nancy tried to bypass the Salary History questions.  However, the online application system would not allow her to do so. She then tried to insert “Willing to Negotiate,” but the system would not accept the text.  Frustrated and angry, Nancy abandoned the application and continued her search elsewhere.

Sound familiar? 

Requests for salary history have been the subject of much recent debate.  Last fall, a bill was introduced before Congress that would prohibit employers from asking prospective hires about past wages and salaries.  While the future of federal legislation is far from certain, the City of Philadelphia and State of Massachusetts have enacted similar laws, and other states and municipalities appear to be following the trend. The rationale for such laws is to prevent those historically disadvantaged by wage gaps (including women) from being shackled by lower wages and salaries.  

Relaunchers are particularly vulnerable in responding to salary history requests.  They often have extended career breaks, dated salaries, and/or low hourly rates from consulting or project gigs with which they filled their employment gaps.  But if they decline to share salary history, they may fear that employers will “lowball” them.   This may leave relaunchers feeling confused and conflicted about responding to salary history requests.   Below are five tips to help navigate this tricky terrain:

  1. You may not even be free to share your last salary.
    Your past employers may have had policies or agreements whereby you are not allowed to share salary information with third parties.  A prospective employer requesting your salary history may even have such policies in effect for its own employees! If you were subject to confidentiality restrictions at your last employment venue, you may want to decline to provide the info, or, depending on the circumstances, state that you’d be willing to share it once the position has been negotiated, an offer has been made and salary is being discussed.
  2. Make informed decisions based on your own good judgment and unique circumstances.
    While providing salary history is often not advantageous for relaunchers, some circumstances will warrant providing it.  Perhaps declining to provide the info will risk an opportunity that you’re unwilling to lose.  Maybe the prospective employer has a set amount that he/she will pay (regardless of your salary history), and you’re willing to accept it for a chance to relaunch.  Or it could be that you feel so confident that you’ll be able to effectively convince the employer of the value of your current skills that minimal significance will be placed on your salary history.  Either way, thoroughly assess the risks and your negotiating power in the situation.
  3. Prepare your approach.
    Don’t wait until the salary history request is made – and you’re in panic mode – to decide how to respond.  Consider some options in different contexts:   
    •    If the request is made in person, state your salary history accurately or request to postpone such discussion until later in the screening process or decline responding either due to confidentiality or because you believe your past salary is not a relevant basis upon which you should be valued for the current role.
    •    In an online application, state your salary history accurately or insert characters or numbers (a series of 1’s or 0’s) that are clearly not accurate but allow you to complete the application and/or explain in a dialogue box.   
    •    In a paper application, state your salary history accurately or write a note in that section explaining that you are declining to respond as discussed above.
  4. Do your research.
    Whether you choose to provide the info or decline to disclose, move forward in conversations with a prospective employer armed with research about competitive salaries and the market rate. Also, as always, be prepared to articulate your value!
  5. Always be truthful.
    Misrepresenting salary history is never worth it. You may be able to overcome other challenges like rusty skills, a long gap or a lack of expertise, but you cannot overcome an employer’s doubts about your credibility and character.

About iRelaunch Career Coach Carroll Welch

Carroll Welch is a career, executive and leadership coach who supports individuals at all levels on issues involving career and leadership development, transition and reentry into the workplace.  As a fully committed collaborative partner, Carroll coaches her clients through the work of articulating a career vision and setting goals to make progress and experience results.  As a past director of a program for reentry professionals, Carroll has extensive experience coaching individuals in communicating about their strengths and anticipating and planning for obstacles in their job searches. Prior to becoming a coach, Carroll was also a practicing attorney at two major law firms; her work included the representation of management on employment law issues. She is a member of the iRelaunch coaching team and has facilitated Boot Camps I and II.  Carroll also coaches participants in the On Ramp Fellowship, an attorney reentry program.

Carroll received a certificate in Executive and Organizational Coaching from New York University, is a member of the International Coach Federation and holds their Associate Certified Coach credential.  She is also credentialed as a coach in the Five O’Clock Club’s job search methodology platform. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law.  She serves as a mentor and member of the board of directors of Campus Bound Scholars, a nonprofit that supports first generation college bound students.

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How Important is Social Media in Relaunching?

How relevant is social media for relaunchers in the job search process? The answer is very. Used correctly, social media provides invaluable opportunities for relaunchers to make connections, achieve visibility and understand what employers in their targeted industries are thinking about. Though there can be some dangerous pitfalls in using social media, a healthy dose of good judgment and professionalism can aid in avoiding the kinds of mistakes that negatively impact one’s job candidacy.
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