Looking for a job is certainly no bed of roses for anyone, but it can be more difficult for older Americans. Perhaps they have given decades of dedicated service to one company, only to find themselves in the job market at a time when they expected to be planning a comfortable retirement.
The feelings of anger, betrayal, and depression that all workers experience when they lose a job often are debilitating to those over 50. Not only do they not know where to begin, but they might face age discrimination when they do make inquiries about employment.
And yet there are job opportunities for older workers, and many companies are finding those employees are more stable and committed to the workplace than younger workers, who are often hunting for the next job.
Catherine Dorton Fyock, who specializes in the aging and changing workforce, says that our culture values youth, and that makes it tough for older employees to find new positions. "But a lot of managers are frustrated by the work ethic of younger workers, and older workers offer them a chance to hire people with an old-fashioned work ethic," she adds.
One of the biggest problems for older Americans looking for work is that they simply do not know where to begin. Job hunting is much different than it was a decade ago, and older workers just need to refine their job search skills to meet market demand.
Fyock advises workers to take the initiative and position themselves for opportunities. If they are still employed, they should take advantage of any and all training offered at the company. If they are unemployed, she says, they should use their time to assess their skills and draw on those strengths.
"Ask friends and family about your strengths," Fyock says. "Sometimes seeing yourself from another person's point of view can be helpful."
In addition, Fyock, in UnRetirement (Amacom, 1994), co-authored with Anne Marrs Dorton, recommends older Americans looking for work do the following:
Notes Fyock: "Looking for a job is the most difficult job many of us will ever have. There are so many techniques being used that we have to personally take more responsibility for our own future, and our own skills update. We have
to pursue every opportunity."