I received an email from Kathy, who is getting a fresh start on her life. She wrote:
“I uprooted myself from a bad situation (I separated from my long-term partner) and find myself in a new town looking for work. I am 50 years old and thankfully, my parents have put me up so I can get back on my feet without too much stress. I want to give myself the best shot at finding employment, but I don’t want to be dishonest, either – how much do I tell the interviewer?”
First of all – good for you. You identified a bad situation and had the guts to uproot your life and start fresh. You even had the presence of mind to give yourself some breathing room and bunk with mom and dad for a bit. Smart all around, Kathy!
I have two pieces of advice for your situation:
- Avoid any appearance that your life is in shambles or that personal problems might appear at work if they hire you. Show up organized, calm, with no hint of desperation. This can be hard to do if you weren’t the one doing the separating, ya know? So… don’t treat the interviewer like someone who could also reject you that way. When you’re scattered in life, you definitely seem scattered in high-stress situations (like interviews and car wrecks), so give yourself time to heal and regain composure in all aspects.
- Keep in mind that marketing is everything. The only way you should present your situational information is to indicate that you decided you wanted to kick more ass and take more names than your situation (and partner) allowed you to. This should elicit a sort of “you go girl” response. If it doesn’t, you’re interviewing with the wrong person.
However, I might leave out that you are living with parents. If you choose to tell your interviewer, you can make it sound interesting, funny, or however you want to spin it – but my guess is that a move + separation + living with parents may be a bridge too far for the “you go girl” response.
Most interviewers are mindless peons and won’t see living with your parents as the “smart” move, they’ll see it as if your life is in shambles and you’re gonna bring that discord to work. It’s up to you to make that call.
Given that our divorce rate is 50%, and even many Generation Y (Millennials – two generations younger than Kathy) are still living at home, your situation isn’t as big of a problem as it seems. This is the country of opportunity – everybody has respect for bootstrappers. Your age will stand more in your way than your situation (have I mentioned that most interviewers are mindless peons?), but ultimately – I have a hell of a lot of faith that you’ll find the job you’re looking for!