Monday, November 9, 2015

Looking for work over 50? Here's how

"I do not believe we can repair the basic fabric of society until people who are willing to work have work.  Work organizes life.  It gives structure and discipline to life." -- Bill Clinton,  42nd U.S. President, (1946 -   )

Tips for finding work after 50 (or 60)
Start your new job hunt before you leave your current job.
Demonstrate that you are tech-savvy. Set up email and LinkedIn accounts.
Be prepared to fill out applications online using key search words.
Shorten your resume. No need to cover your entire work history.
Build your network. Tell friends you’re looking for a job.
Explain why you’re not overqualified.
Expect a more casual work environment.
Go to job fairs. Look for retraining opportunities.
Build your confidence, remind yourself that you can do it

"Over 50, Female and Jobless as Others Return to Work," NYT (Jan. 1, 2016), click here.

According to national research, it typically takes five months longer for an older worker to find employment than the average seven months of searching needed by a younger worker, under 50.
Even with an improving job market, older workers may face challenges in finding new employment because their skills could be out-of-date, they may seem overqualified or they are clueless about the new online job-search universe.
If you've been in the same job for a long time or have been out of the work force for a while, you will find that a lot has changed about how you search, apply and interview for jobs.

Meanwhile, it may not be a surprise that a growing number of older workers are returning to the job market. For multiple reasons:
- Some may have held long-time jobs but who have been laid off by employers who are still cutting costs because of the uneven economic recovery. Others may have accepted an early retirement package but are running short of income.
- Others may have found that they simply cannot live on just Social Security, alone.
- Some might be facing a family health emergency and unplanned medical bills. Rising housing costs, especially for those in rental apartments, may be a factor.
- In addition, the staff that I spoke with at the local job-coaching nonprofit, say, they are seeing more women 50 and older who are newly divorced and who have been out of the work force. Now, they are financially on their own maybe for the first time and desperately seeking job-hunting assistance.

“More people than ever in the 50 and older group are looking for work,” said Christine Humphrey, job developer at People in Careers a Vancouver, Wash. nonprofit that helps people find work. “We are seeing more this year than in past years. Many are running short of income.”

Improving job market

The good news is that the national and regional job markets are robust with employers adding workers. Here in the Portland-Vancouver market, 40,000 new jobs have been created in the 12 months through September (2015), according to the Oregon Employment Department. The annual job growth rate of 3.6 percent is among the strongest in the nation. In demand are jobs in the health care industry, production manufacturing and transportation. These same sectors are growing, nationally.
Partners in Careers works with several hundred employers and nonprofits throughout the area to place workers. Similar organizations nationwide do the same work.

What you need to know if you're over 50

The advisers I spoke with say that if you’ve been in the same job for a long time or out of the work force for years, you will find that the process of finding and applying for jobs has changed. Everything is online from job openings to job application forms.

Your initial application may not even be read by a human but first scanned by a computer program looking for key words that fit the job description. If those words aren’t there, you are out of luck.
Most employers no longer even offer a way for an applicant to drop off an application, resume and cover letter. Everything goes through an employer Web portal.

Many employers also ask that you create a personal profile on their Web site. In doing so, be sure to fill in all requested fields. Some employers also are doing personality testing to find the best team players and collaborative problem-solvers.
“An applicant must make sure that their resume targets a job they want to do with the skills that match,” said Cadie Dye, a PIC employment specialist. “Everything must be job specific… no mass applications using the same resume. That goes for cover letters and what you say in an interview.”

Shorten your work history
As an older applicant it is not necessary to list or explain your entire work history. Give employers enough to see your value as an employee. When you get the interview, you can further explain that value.
And don’t expect to find that great job without networking.

Set up a network
“Set up a network on LinkedIn of neighbors, church friends and even people you know in volunteer organizations,” said PIC Executive Direct Sharon Pesut. “A friend circle can be very important. Don’t be afraid to say that you are looking for a job. For many people over 50, that’s hard to do.”
Who has more trouble finding new work, men or women? the experts say that men may have it slightly easier because they often have previous work experience in a skilled trade. With a bit of retraining they can take on a new job. Women may face bigger challenges because their technical skills may be out of date or they have limited work experience. But women are often more open to retraining, networking and upgrading their skills.
“Employers want to know if you can work with a team, communicate, manage your time and follow directions,” Pesut said. "That’s where a mature worker may be more attractive to an employer.”
Money magazine (2015) reported that “more companies are recognizing the value of mature workers and are starting to hire them” this year. That’s good news for an aging population and baby boomers who may not have saved enough for retirement.

Getting across your value

There are ways to get across your value as an older worker, say the experts.
In a resume and an interview, a job applicant should emphasize his or her experience, maturity and reliability rather than explain why they haven’t been working.
“It’s important to meet the needs of the job description,” said Humphrey. “That’s where we can help…we see ourselves as matchmakers with employers.”

In some ways, applying for jobs is easier now than even five years ago, they said. Instead of driving all over dropping off resumes, you can sit at a computer and deliver an application in a much more efficient way. And thanks to the Great Recession, more training resources are available to those who want to upgrade their skills.
More casual work place
If you land that face-to-face interview, what do you wear?
The work place has become much more casual even in the past five years. Experts recommend that you research the company culture online for what looks right. Casual slacks and an open shirt should work for both men and women with maybe a jacket. (No suits). And don’t expect to get any feedback, if you don’t get an interview or get the job. You likely won’t get a thank you note for applying.

Coaching can make a difference

“Coaching on all this is critical,” Pesut said. “It shortens the learning curve, which in turns gets you into a job quicker.”
A key piece of the job search process is developing self-confidence. Older workers need to remind themselves that they can to it. They can win the position. There’s hope but you have to be very intentional about your job search.

For more:
As age rises, American women face increasing bars to employment, MarketWatch, click here.
7 Tips for Getting Hired After Age 50, click here.
Over 50? 5 Smart Tips for Landing a New job, click here.
Job Hunting and Career tips for Older Workers, click here. -- Careers at 50 plus, click here.

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