As you market yourself to potential employers, it's important to understand the qualities that you bring to the table that can best benefit them. Unfortunately, many myths about older workers persist. You can help yourself by knowing the realities and being able to talk freely about what you can offer as an employee.
Carol Gilmore took advantage of an early retirement program from her federal job in 2005 but soon realized she would need additional income to supplement her government pension. Her situation was complicated by the loss of her adult son and her new responsibility as caregiver to her two grandchildren. She “unretired” and found several part-time and short-term jobs, followed by full-time work that was cut short after a year. Carol found Employment for Seniors, a Columbus-based non-profit that connects employers with older workers. Employment for Seniors connected Carol with the Columbus Sign Company, where she is now employed full-time. Carol stresses the importance of networking, keeping up job skills, and doing her homework in searching for a job, but also knowing the full financial impact of retirement.
(Photo courtesy of the Columbus Dispatch, Adam Cairns, photographer. Used with permission.)
Mike Nichols was a pilot who decided he needed additional funds for retirement after his employer’s shift in 2006 from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan. Mike plans to continue working until he is 65, but volatility in the airline industry spurred his decision to start a small business, Prudential Construction Company, in 2011. As a veteran, Mike typically hires other veterans, either directly or as subcontractors, for his projects. The Small Business Development Center at Wright State University helped Mike start his business. “They were the lynch pin; a group of graduate students helped me develop a business plan and showed me how to use social media to reach potential clients.” The need to feel productive and help other veterans are both strong motivators for his business success.
Searching for a job has changed over the past several decades and many older workers seeking employment don’t know where to start. Most job applications are completed on-line rather than in-person. As it has always been, networking is an excellent way to learn about job opportunities. Social media, such as Facebook and LinkedIn can connect you with potential employers. Creating a personal marketing plan that sells what you have to offer includes a polished resume, cover letter and thank-you notes.
Training and Re-training
Older workers may need or choose to upgrade their skills to reenter the workforce, switch jobs or even remain in their existing positions.
Fred Slack lost an eye when he was hit by a truck and found that this was an obstacle to employment in fields he knew well, such as auto sales and advertising. In 2009, Fred graduated from the University of Akron with a degree in social work. Mature Services, a senior employment organization, linked him to a training program to assist people with chemical dependencies. He then gained employment as a resident supervisor at the Oriana House, a nationally renowned corrections and chemical dependency treatment agency in Akron. He currently is pursuing his master's degree in social work.
(Photo courtesy of Mature Services Employment & Training Solutions)
In 2007, Barb Wolfe lost her job at a small Marietta factory where she had worked for 18 years, and from which she had always assumed she would retire. With few opportunities in her community, Barb enrolled in the medical assistant program at Washington County Career Center, through the Workforce Investment Act. She admits that going back to school in her 50s was scary: "I had to put everything I had into it to keep up with recent high school graduates." One of Barb's instructors encouraged her to enroll in evening classes, which tended to be smaller and to have students who were a bit older. She completed the program as one of the top students and quickly found part-time work at the local hospital that eventually turned into a full-time job. She is now an advocate for older adults returning to school to be trained for a new occupation and encourages others to do as she did.
Gary Josephson has had several careers; he worked at the Ohio State University as a civil service worker, for a labor union, then found a career in real estate appraisal and sales. As a result of the 2007 economic downturn, his real estate career did not work out as planned. Gary recognized his writing and communication skills needed improvement, so he enrolled in classes at OSU through their Program 60+, which allows adults aged 60 and above who are low income to take classes on a credit basis. Gary relies on Social Security and a small pension from his union job. Following completion of his degree in English, he hopes to find a job so that he can have enough income to travel. “I don’t know when I’ll retire. I’m 67 now and never had expectations of retiring at a certain age – I want to work for as long as I’m able.”
When it comes to finding a job, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, but who you know, that matters." As a matter of fact, up to 80% of available jobs are never posted, but rather filled by word of mouth. Discovering and hiring candidates this way gives companies more control over the pool of applicants along with confidence that candidates they are considering have been vouched for by trusted colleagues and employees.
In this type of job market, it’s extra important to build and maintain a network of colleagues, peers and mentors that can help you spot opportunities and can speak about your skills and experiences with others. According to AARP, here are the basics of a good networking strategy.
Even when you get a job interview, make networking your top goal. You may not walk out with the job, but you can walk out of almost any interview with new relationships that can help with your job search.
A well-written, targeted and current résumé is a must to effectively market yourself to potential employers. If you’ve been out of the job market for a while, you might find that résumés have changed a great deal. Gone are the days when you would develop one résumé, making sure it was only a page long, print multiple copies on high-quality paper and mail it to every employer you’re interested in. Today, employers rely almost exclusively on technology to collect and screen résumés, meaning that how your résumé looks is far less important than what it says. Here are some elements of a modern résumé:
Your local OhioMeansJobs center can help you develop the résumés you need to be successful in your job search.
While many parts of the job search process, such as how jobs are posted and how you apply, have changed considerably in recent years, most employers still rely on interviews to determine if a candidate is the right fit for their organization. For a job-seeker, the job interview is naturally an opportunity to convince an employer that you’re the best candidate for the job. But, even if you don’t land the position, an interview offers you the opportunity to learn more about your field of interest and add more people to your professional network.
Practice Interview and Tips from OhioMeansJobs.com
Your local OhioMeansJobs center can help you prepare for a successful job interview.
Fred Slack lost an eye when he was hit by a truck and found that this was an obstacle to employment in fields he knew well, such as auto sales and advertising. In 2009, Fred graduated from the University of Akron with a degree in social work. VANTAGE Aging (formerly Mature Services, Inc.), a senior employment organization, linked him to a training program to assist people with chemical dependencies. He then gained employment as a resident supervisor at the Oriana House, a nationally renowned corrections and chemical dependency treatment agency in Akron. He currently is pursuing his master's degree in social work.
(Photo courtesy of VANTAGE Aging)
Marcie Pitt-Casouphes, Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College, discusses the negative perceptions that employers often have about older workers and what older workers, who seek to be hired, can do to overcome them. She also dispels the myth that older and younger workers cannot work together productively.
Laurie McCann, AARP Foundation Senior Litigation Attorney, discusses age discrimination, how to file a charge of age discrimination and provides tips for older jobseekers. (Courtesy of OverFiftyAndOutOfWork.com)
AARP Age Discrimination Fact Sheet
Special thanks to the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University for contributing to the content on this page.
Information for Employers