It's no secret that, despite protestations to the contrary by business, a large portion of the out-of-work workforce that is still having trouble finding full time employment is the over-50 crowd.
Whether they were discriminated against in being laid off in the first place is uncertain, but ask anyone in that age bracket whether they know someone who was downsized during the recession, and they nod knowingly.
They certainly seem to have a harder time being hired again. Many are still unemployed, while others have found contract work that pays the bills, but carries no benefits at the time in life when they need them most.
Fifty-somethings who are still seeking employment caution their similarly affected friends to eliminate all references to graduation dates on their resumes, having noticed that they weren't even able to get an interview before doing that, and that the only nibbles have come from employers who have no idea how old the applicant is.
Age discrimination, it seems, is alive and well, but well hidden.
So, what's a person to do if they are in the job market and a member of the age cohort most likely to suffer discrimination? The first thing is to make an honest self-assessment and insure that your job skills are up to date, including technology skills. Secondly, consider appearance. Opt for a look that is professional, but not stodgy.
Make sure that you have at least one social media page online. A LinkedIn account is the one most commonly used as a professional networking site. Ask your former employer or co-workers to post a recommendation for you there. If you don't have any social media pages at all, prospective employers may think you don't keep up with the times.
There's a good online job site called Senior Job Bank (www.seniorjobbank.org) where employers who actually seek to hire from the 50+ set advertise their positions. Today's list of jobs includes: Budget Analyst at an Elder Care Agency; EEC Certified Teacher; Auto Damage Appraiser; Social Worker and Inside Sales Associate among others.
Key points on a resume can help, too. Be sure to include language that states you are flexible in your work or management style. If you have ever been supervised by someone who is younger, mention something positive about that experience. Perhaps you mentored your boss by sharing your experience, or you were able to use your experience to make your boss's job easier or help your boss save money for the company.
If you do get an interview, mention your skills, but don't talk a lot about how you did things at your old job! That may suggest that you are unwilling to change. Instead, talk about how your skills can help your prospective employer.
There are jobs out there, even for older workers, but the competition is keen, so be prepared. Pongoresume.com has a brief article on resume hints for over-50 job seekers: http://www.pongoresume.com/articles/453/over-50-how-to-make-your-resume-work-for-you.cfm.
If job seeking seems overwhelming, or you aren't getting results, consider using a career or life coach.
Whatever you do, don't give up!
Anne Springer is the public relations director of SeniorCare Inc., Cape Ann's local area agency on aging. To reach SeniorCare, call 978-281-1750.