If you are 55 and over the prospect of entering a depressed job market can seem to be a lost cause. A good resume will get you an interview but an attitude or the appearance of an attitude can be a crippling handicap. This is one though that we can control if we listen to ourselves and see what we bring to the eyes of a perspective employer. You have experience but an attitude will be a game changer. So here is some advice.
Economics is the driver of our job market. Realities and insight for those 55+ seeking employment opportunities
This is a time of downsizing and outsourcing. All measures to cut costs and raise profits. There is much in the air regarding what happens to those in the workforce that are 55+. Despite what it seems, unemployment rates for persons 55+, according to Federal statistics for Sept 2012 indicate that the rate has held steady at 5.9% and is the lowest of all demographics.
However, I have seen the issues facing those workers who are 55+ who are now some of the hardest to place into good steady full time employment.
Negatives can be hard to overcome. Age discrimination or bias does exist along with other forms of discrimination and biases.
It is one that is hard to isolate as a reason for not getting a job. Although companies don’t own up to it, it is far easier to hire a younger person than an older one. It is not a new phenomenon. Let’s look at negatives when considering whether or not to hire older applicants.
First, longevity at previous positions: Most of the folks who are 55+ have had a career where many companies have had their production outsourced overseas.
Second, the question of usefulness: 55+ persons have less stamina, endurance, physical strength, and are usually in declining health when they reach 55 and therefore cannot compete with younger workers with physically strenuous work.
Third, skill sets are usually out of step with today’s needs: 55+ persons can take classes to make them more employable but it is daunting to many to keep pace with
Fourth, 55+ aged workers bring a lot of ‘baggage’ with their experience: This may not be a good thing. The baggage is ‘rigidness’ or being set in ones ways; unteachable. Attitude is a big hindrance to getting picked. The ‘teach-ability’ factor creates issues when attitude causes resistance when seasoned workers don’t like to be told what to do. Unfortunately as we age we become resistant to change. It is an easy thing to sense and a big turn off to a perspective employer.
There are some truths to the issues that those concerns are derived from. However, the key to addressing an issue is facing facts or assumptions and dealing with them to show that they are not set in stone at all. If you know the objections of any argument, you can address them and work around them despite how great and seemingly insurmountable they can be. Don’t be daunted by the specter of defeat.
When Ronald Reagan was challenged about his age in a debate by his youthful opponent, he simply addressed it this way… “I won’t hold my esteemed colleagues youth and inexperience against him”.
Keep your faith and keep your smile. God has a plan and purpose for you or you wouldn’t be reading this now! He is not done with you yet!
Skills and Qualifications Check: Take stock of what you have to bring to the table
It is what you know about what makes you worthwhile. What is the inventory of your skills and qualifications? This is what separates you from your competition? Ask yourself who needs your skills and talents? If you don’t know who does then use your time to research the local market. Identify those companies who have needs of employees who use similar skills that are relevant to their industry.
I am amazed at those folks who work at jobs who cannot tell me what they do at them. It is like pulling teeth to get an accurate description of those tasks, duties and operations that they did on a daily basis. “OK, so you worked in a warehouse. So what did you do in that warehouse? How did you do those jobs? Did you use any equipment?”
Know what you do and what skills that you have to rely on; look to enhance a job description by what does it take to get the job done. It is not enough to just give a flat fast answer.
Keep all that you do current including training etc. Job reviews; certificates and awards; continuing education; what accomplishments did you make at your job? Did you make goal or exceed them? How often? What about your attendance and on time record?
Be able to discuss all of your attributes and present a positive image that says that you are a ‘can do’ sort of person.
Make an attitude adjustment. It begins with a change of focus. When you change focus, you begin to look at yourself as someone who brings something to the feast, something of value. You bring a winning attitude and a team spirit with you, then you will find that the playing field gets leveled a lot.
Remember that employers want someone who can carry their own weight and make a difference.
Job experience is not a negative-Turn those lemons into lemonade!
Experience is a good thing! You have to make your case in many situations. Consider this analogy. When auto designers bring in the new year automobile model, they have to retrofit the assembly line. They don’t replace it, they retrofit new tools but still use the same assembly techniques to build the new car. If you have had a lot of experience and the skills are not current, there are some things that are constantly in need. A wise man told me this and it stuck with me forever..
“If you go to the store, in the hardware department, you will find something called a shovel. People still dig holes with them you know!”
He was right. There are skills that are still in need, skills that may not be the identical job but there are many similarities and usable abilities that can crossover to other fields.
What about learning new skills to enhance what you have already? Yes you can. There are classes in many senior centers and community colleges that offer training. Likewise there are many churches that have outreaches and employment security agencies that have opportunities to educate and bring you up to speed or enhance what you can do.
Filed under: Mature Job Seekers
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