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How to Get a First Job in Your 30s

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Stepping into the workforce for the first time may feel intimidating when you are in your 30s and have never had a job. Your reason for not seeking employment until now can work to your advantage. According to Marc Cenedella in a January 2011 article for website The Ladders, you should think about getting a first job that will help you gain skills and establish a long-term career. When looking for your first job, consider your work/life balance, the target wage you need to help maintain your family, benefits and job demands.

Create a list of the jobs that interest you. These jobs should include those related to your college major, if applicable, volunteer work you did in your 20s and 30s or a hobby that you have enjoyed since you were at least in your 20s in which you now consider yourself proficient.

Take career assessments. CareerOneStop counselors, which you may find at your local Department of Health and Human Services, can conduct career assessments. Career assessments are beneficial to complete if you are in your 30s and have never worked because they will give you a better idea about your interests, abilities and skills to help you start your career path in the right direction. Assessments can also tell you what job skills you need to strengthen so your talents, after receiving any needed training, are more equal to those who are your age and have worked for several years.

Create a resume. You can still make a resume even if you are in your 30s and never had a job. In your resume, include information about your postsecondary education, career goals, past volunteer work, relevant projects you have participated in and information about relevant groups of which you are a member. List your skills in a resume, as well. Use information from the career assessments you completed to help create a list of your skills, such as typing skills. Additionally, list life experiences that an employer could find helpful. For example, if you have been an avid hiker and rock climber since you were in your teen or 20s, your knowledge, skills and experience could make you a good job candidate at a recreation and sports equipment store.

Do not list your age on your resume. The Equal Employment Opportunity Act states that an employer cannot base a hiring decision on your age, so this information is irrelevant to gaining employment.

Make a job-hunting schedule. Job-hunting takes time, and creating a schedule can help you juggle your life as a person in her 30s. The CareerOneStop website states that creating a schedule and setting goals can help you stay focus on your job search. Set blocks of time to job-hunt throughout the week that fits in with your kids' and/or spouse's schedule, job training and other appointments you may have. During the times you dedicate to searching for a job, look through classified ads in newspapers and online, identify new employers to pursue and contact selected employers.

As you search for jobs, look for entry-level positions or jobs that do not require a lot of work experience, as well as jobs that match your level of education and general experience. In your 30s, having a lot of experience in a particular area can work to your advantage.

Network. Take advantage of the connections you have made up until your 30s and let everyone you know that you are looking for a job. These personal connections could make good job references, particularly if an individual has known you for more than three years. Participating in local networking groups that meet regularly and joining a professional association, if there is a particular field in which you want to work, can also help you establish new connections that can lead to information about a job opening that is a good fit for someone your age.

Fill out job applications, and give your resume to prospective employers.

Interview with prospective employers. A hiring manger will notice that you have never had a job; answer questions about this honestly. However, during an interview, you legally have the right to not discuss the fact that you are in your 30s, and a hiring manager should not even inquire about this. During the interview, highlight your postsecondary education, skills and experiences you have had in a manner that makes you look like an obvious and good fit for the company in spite of never having had a job.

Send a follow-up letter to the hiring manager within 24 hours after an interview. In the letter, thank the hiring manager for his time and briefly restate how you are able to benefit the company’s needs. It is not necessary to acknowledge the fact that you have never had a job or mention your age in a follow-up letter.


Flora Richards-Gustafson has been writing professionally since 2003. She creates copy for websites, marketing materials and printed publications. Richards-Gustafson specializes in SEO and writing about small-business strategies, health and beauty, interior design, emergency preparedness and education. Richards-Gustafson received a Bachelor of Arts from George Fox University in 2003 and was recognized by Cambridge's "Who's Who" in 2009 as a leading woman entrepreneur.

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