So am I pretty much unemployable?

I mean aside from being like a store clerk or burger flipper, not that those aren’t honest jobs.

The negative stuff below is not a self-flagellating, “pity poor me” thing, it is my attempt to be realistic about my employment prospects.

I am 52.

I worked in Japan for four years at a Japanese company almost 30 years ago, proofreading and then translating Japanese into English.

Then I became a freelance translator in the U.S., from 1990 to 2003. My clients were all in Japan.

I tried my hand at investing for the last 12 years. Gave it a long, patient shot, and I guess I am just not good at it.

So I have no recent work experience, and haven’t worked at a company since 1990. My resume is sparse, to say the least.

I was a good translator, but it was just as a large volume, piecework business. My work didn’t require any sort of initiative or decision making. I don’t have any past responsibilities, accomplishments or projects, etc. that I can point to. I didn’t really even have to do any self promotion (fortunately), because just two or three clients really gave me all the work I could handle.

I have no contacts or network. Advice to build a network would be as useful to me as advice to flap my arms and fly to the moon. It is not something I have the tools to do. I don’t even have a network of friends. I don’t mean “poor me,” I mean that is just the way I am. I am an introvert. Reading the Straight Dope is a large part of my social interaction. (Don’t judge me! :p)

I have no certifications other than Japanese Proficiency Level 1, the top level.

I have no desire to try to resume a freelance career. If I was to go back to translating, I would want to do it as an in-house translator. And I don’t even know if such jobs exist anymore, or if it is all outsourced.

When I started translating, I was actually kind of a hot commodity, as there still weren’t a lot of people who were familiar with technical terminology, could write well and could read Japanese in the 1980s.

Now people with those skills are a dime a dozen, and much younger than me (which also means they are more familiar with current technology and translating tools).

Lastly, I am a lousy interview. I can smile and make eye contact, etc., and have a decent appearance, but I can’t think fast verbally. Small talk and answering questions that require any sort of thought or insight are minefields for me. Either I can’t think of anything to say, or I start to ramble, nesting parenthetical comments within parenthetical comments. Even I start to think, as I ramble, “Jesus Christ, what are you doing? Get it back on track!”

So a weak work history, lack of recent experience, failed to keep up with the field, old, lack of network, poor interview, an overwhelmingly positive outlook (wait, isn’t today Opposite Day?), and just the fact that it is hard for anyone to get a job, am I right to think that trying to get a conventional job by conventional means is going to entail a lot of futility?

Certainly not with that attitude.

A full time job with benefits, stability etc. may be hard to come by. Generally speaking, the trend in employment is toward “gig” type jobs AFAIK.

Can you combine what you have learned about investing with your Japanese translation skills? Maybe you could aid Japanese people in the US with investing? I assume you know a lot about the meanings of various things in investing – you don’t have to be good at making money to be good at explaining forms or reports.

You’re coming across as a bit of a depressive sad sack which is going to doom your job prospects regardless of your technical skills if you don’t change your presentation which you seem kinds-sorta unwilling to do. I get you’ve had setbacks and that beats us down emotionally, but I’m 57 and if someone told me I would lose my house and not eat unless I changed my attitude I would drop the Eeyore attitude and get to work.

1: Change your fucking, shitty “poor me I’m no good” attitude. If you can’t then everything else is a waste of time. Get angry, get motivated do what you have to do to get fired up. You spend a year in physically grinding service work for a touch above minimum wage and your complaints about jobs not having enough “initiative” to make you happy vs a middle class wage for boring freelance piece work will be put in perspective.

2: Freelance your ass off. Focus on companies needing financial translation services. 9-5 jobs for 52 year olds starting over with rusty skills is a pipe dream. You will HAVE to learn to market yourself and network to sell your skills. If you don’t then you will be homeless. You have presented nothing else that would seem to be a way for you to make a living wage.

If you can translate Japanese and have a grasp on financial terminology there are absolutely companies that will hire you as a freelancer for decent rates. It’s up to you to target them, build the business and offer your services. Put together some examples of your work. Smaller Japanese companies to this day often have terrible translation in their webpages and manuals that makes them seem unprofessional. I would work this angle hard. No one is going to hand you a middle class 9-5 job, especially if you’re not gung ho. You will need to resign yourself to the hard fact that your future is in gig work and structure your plans and efforts around that.

Have you considered teaching? A person with your skill set should do very well teaching Japanese in the US.

Hey that language skill can get you places :slight_smile: Look into customer service even. I know the casinos where I live are always looking for people who are fluent in any of the Asian languages because they get so many tourists from that area. And even if it doesn’t involve your language skill, customer service is gonna pay better than retail or fast food. Slightly better but still better. I got hired at my place with over five years of a gap in my job history. I just made sure to put on my resume that it was because of being a stay at home mom and it really wasn’t an issue. You’re never gonna find a job if you don’t send out those applications and resumes. Like astro said, start having a more positive outlook.

Fluency in Japanese should provide you with much better jobs than clerk or burger flipper. If your career is stalled it isn’t from a lack of useful skills.

I can understand why you have a “bad” attitude. It’s a difficult situation. Good luck.

Given what you said about being slow on your feet, are you able to translate verbally? Or just written? There are markets for both jobs, but it’d be much easier to find one as a live interpreter.

As far as networking, start by creating a profile on LinkedIn, highlighting the things you highlighted here. You DO have a job history. Maintaining your own translation consulting business for 13 years is an accomplishment to be proud of. Explain the next several years in a similar manner - you were an independent investor.

I would also recommend that you seek out a placement services agency or expert. Think of it as an independent head hunter who is working for you. This person should be able to help with your resume, suggest fields to target, and even help you practice interview skills.

I would think that Japanese translation skills are still in demand. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Are you in a position to take any courses? If you could get certified as a medical interpreter, you could probably find work. That might involve being contract or per diem, though.

This kind of comment is not helping. You know zero things about his presentation nor his willingness or unwillingness to change it.

I am constantly amazed by the number of people online who don’t understand how context can legitimately affect tone–and different contexts allow for different tones–and that’s assuming these people can read tone accurately in the first place.

Forget it Jake…it’s Asperger town.

I got fired from a job when I was over 40 and was able to get a job at a school district that had a personnel commission which tested for jobs. I was always good at passing tests. I came #1 on a couple of tests for clerical jobs which had basically nothing to do with anything I had ever done before. The top three people on the tests got interviewed and I came first on the interviews. Then the person who was actually doing the hiring took the top three, and hired me. During my time at the district I tested for other jobs whenever something that paid better came open. I got two of them and turned down for about four or five others.

The point here is that if you can get to an environment that takes age out of the equation you can get hired. I hope you can find a personnel commission (I also hear that the Post Office has similar hiring practices) and that you can test well!

I’m not seeing a bad attitude at all. It was honestly put forward without sugar coating.

Such things as “poor interviewing” can be mitigated with training. I would suggest joining something like Toastmasters. I say this because I know someone who can barely string 2 sentences together do the best presentation I’ve ever witnessed. He was informative, funny and made everything easy to understand. So the interview process is really just a function of a bit of training and some honest preparation. I struggle with presentations and know what trips me up so I found ways around it.

As for the types of jobs available I think it’s already been suggested. Combine the skill of translating with the knowledge of the stock market.

Look around the web for articles about jobs for introverts. You might find something you like there.

You might have to buck up and change your mind about that. Right off the bat, you’re ruling out your best prospect.

While I appreciate you taking the time to respond in depth, I’m not sure why there is all this virulence in your post. A “tough love” approach?:rolleyes: I made a point of saying that I was laying out the situation realistically, not self-flagellating. I’m not depressed or beaten down, and not sure why you got that from my post. Since I was not seeking employment from the SDMB but instead seeking feedback on my prospects, it would be kind of pointless to emphasize the positive and minimize the negative, right? I am a self-aware person who has strengths (I said I was a good translator, a very non-sad-sackian comment) and weaknesses, and if commenting frankly about my weaknesses makes me a sad-sack, I can’t do anything about your perception.

I am not in danger of losing my house, or in any other sort of desparate situation. I would like to return to work in an office environment, but I suspect that is not very feasible for me. Hence my OP.

Your comments about freelancing were spot on…but not anything I wasn’t aware of. As I said, I have zero desire to resume freelancing. However, your observation that I would have to do that before I could consider getting 9-5 employment is useful. As is “9-5 jobs for 52 year olds starting over with rusty skills is a pipe dream.” Thanks. (Not sarcastically.)

This. And it’s a great way to ‘get started’ and make contacts. My daughter has JLPT level 3 and is currently doing retail/customer service for Disney, and is doing well at making connections and networking. She’s using it as a springboard for bigger things with the company. She hopes to gain level 1 proficiency eventually and in the meantime, she’s got a job.
If you can do interpretation as well as translation, there are phone services that are always desperate to hire people. We use Language Line at my job. I understand the pay is excellent for expert interpreters and it can even be done as work-from-home. The people who can do specialized stuff like medical or business are in even more demand.