Q: Most firms I've worked for have simply ceased to exist, and my references, network and ability to prove my accomplishments vanished with them. How do you prove yourself able to do the job you apply for in this situation?
A: Include key accomplishments in your campaign regardless of company status. Rely as much as possible on companies that are very much alive. Get references from them and from others who've observed you using work-related skills outside of companies.
Did you maintain networks of people who weren't in the companies but with whom you had contact? What about a banker, vendor, customer or client? Think of people you liked most in each job and dig them up.
Your greatest challenge may well be to gain the self-confidence to sell what you know you did. Although people talk about background checks a great deal, not all employers do them. Few will ask you to "prove" your accomplishments. Many will trust you if you're forthcoming about the companies and approach your application with sincerity. It takes just one to take a chance with you.
Q: I'm having big problems overcoming a mental block. I have been underemployed for several years and would now like to move back into my field, but I defeat myself from even trying by focusing on what I've been doing rather than what I can and want to do. Any advice?
A: Would you cast out an older worker who's good just because he's old? Then don't scrap the best of your previous experience. It's still relevant if it's something you can do and want to do. You must have found it rewarding or you wouldn't want to re-up.
Develop a job description for the job you want. Draw up a title and five key functions you'll perform related to it. Next to each function, jot down accomplishments from any of your jobs that are similar to the ones those functions would require.
Carry the list around. Read it just before you get out of bed and just before you go to bed. Throughout the day, look at it at least once an hour. Command yourself, out loud, if necessary, to get off the dime.
(Dr. Mildred Culp welcomes your questions at email@example.com. © 2012 Passage Media.)