WorkWise Q&A: Is work history absolutely necessary?

culp@workwise.netNovember 18, 2012 


Q: Dear Dr. Culp, My wife would like to go to work. She doesn’t think that anyone will hire her, because she doesn’t have a work history. She is 52 years old and she applied at a motel the other day to clean rooms.

Does she really need a work history to apply for these types of service jobs?


A: Dear Husband, If a worker quits or is fired, an employer may need to fill that slot quickly. Your wife can convince an employer that she’s the one to choose by sounding enthusiastic and showing how she can do the job, work history or not.

How many times has she changed beds, vacuumed carpets, washed bathrooms and floors, picked up and emptied trash? How many times has she followed lists? (Think “grocery shopping.”) These numbers will make the point.

When you practice interviewing, ask “Where have you worked?” and “What is your work experience?” Have her mention the states or neighborhoods where she’s kept house.

If she doesn’t get the job using this method, the employer won’t reward ingenuity. Encourage her to find one who will and to keep calling back until he does.



Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I’ve been working in sales for five years and I’m burned out. I used to enjoy it, but my industry tanked during the recession and it isn’t coming back. I need to find some work that will keep me in front of people but not require me to be making cold calls all of the time. Where would you send me?

Worn Down

A: Dear Worn, Because your work has involved facing customers and potential customers, you could move into several different areas. Marketing would be the closest to sales but might not give you the desired break.

Customer service would enable you to help keep sales and, perhaps, identify them for the sales staff. If you enjoy writing, communications and advertising functions would benefit from your experience in persuading people.

Watch out for jobs that focus internally. You probably have too much energy and pizzaz for a job in administration. Ditto for one in IT.

If none of these sounds good, you might look for companies large enough to provide you warm leads, which will increase your closing ratio. It’s also possible that selling in an up-and-coming industry might give you the jumpstart you need.


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