"I don't know how to do anything!"
We've all heard despairing cries like this from women who have gone from school to marriage to raising children, with little or no employment experience along the way.
The longer they have been "nothing but a housewife," the more daunted they are by the prospect of looking for a job.
"So what if I'm a smart shopper . . . good at fixing boo-boos . . . and know how to spackle? So what if I was a Girl Scout leader and a neighborhood captain for the United Way?"
I wish I had a surefire, encouraging answer for a woman like this.
I do have a tentative suggestion, however, that's only partly tongue in cheek. Take a more exhaustive look at all you've done, and then translate your experience into resume-ese . . .
* Conceived and implemented successful behavioral training that turned persons with animalistic tendencies and frequent episodes of antisocial conduct into compatible members of society with acceptable interpersonal skills.
* Monitored cash flow and administered a comprehensive purchasing program within budgetary parameters that did not allow adequately for either inflation or the growing needs of the organization.
* Provided both psychological counseling and arbitration services for a clientele of varied ages and emotional needs.
Tutored students on math, grammar, geography and other academic disciplines and carried out on-going evaluation of their in-school progress.
* Acquired extensive practical experience as a paramedic.
* Managed the local branch of an international educational and recreational organization.
* Ran a customized dietary planning and food preparation service which catered to both small, intimate gatherings and large social functions.
* Was the principal partner in a 24-hour chauffeuring service.
* Manufactured a wide assortment of Christmas gift items and children's clothing.
* Served as interior decorator, hygiene superintendent and assistant rehabilitation engineer for an interior design, maintenance and home renovation group.
* Recruited personnel and supervised solicitation and collection of monies for a multi-agency charitable fund-raising cooperative.
* Conducted canine orientation and instruction programs.
* Designed original costumes to order under severe time constraints.
All of the above may be job market jargon, but the fact is, a good wife, mother and volunteer has demonstrated more ability to deal with people, manage time and juggle conflicting demands than many of the middle management folks I have known.
Equally important, she has shown a capacity for educating herself to meet the requirements of a constantly evolving situation. And this ability to learn is more valuable in the long run than some initial skills.
I hope more and more employers begin to appreciate what a resource these women are.
May the import of my input be found actionable in a positive mode.