We used to think that anyone old enough to be a grandparent should be sitting on the porch enjoying retirement. The myth of Freedom 55 is fading fast as our economy is still struggling to recover and interest rates are staying low, too low to provide the income that folks who retired in the last 10 years hoped for.
Many retirees have to come out of retirement to find employment. And many people who planned to retire in the last 10 years have had to delay their retirement. Some people retire and find they simply miss the challenge of work and want to return to the workplace where their skills can be fully utilized.
Despite their wealth of skills and experience, many older workers have difficulty finding a job. There is the obvious fear that an older worker won’t stay in the job, but there are some less obvious myths that keep older workers from finding work.
Myth: Older workers expect higher salaries.
Fact: Most older workers looking for work today are well aware that jobs are at a premium. They are often more willing than younger workers to make do with less.
Myth: Older workers can’t work for younger supervisors.
Fact: Today’s older generation is very responsive to the needs of hierarchy. They understand that supervisors have a job to do and respect the supervisor’s authority and position.
Myth: Older workers can’t handle new technology.
Fact: Teaching computer skills to older workers is no more challenging than teaching new skills to younger workers. In fact, older workers often feel they have to prove themselves, and will work twice as hard to gain mastery over new challenges.
How can job seekers of the 50-plus generation get their foot in the door in today’s market place? Here are six great tips:
•Practice patience and perseverance. It’s a tough job market out there for everyone. Overcoming age discrimination can make the search for employment that much longer. Hang in there.
•Look the part. If your clothing and hairstyle are outdated, find some newer clothes and change your hairstyle. Second hand stores can provide an almost-new wardrobe suitable for interviewing. Men and women can find simple, modern clothes that will present an up-to-date image. Make sure your appearance shows that you are keeping up with personal grooming.
•Show off your cellphone (or smart phone). If you don’t own one, start shopping. You can get a prepaid phone for under $50 and pay as little as $15 every two months to maintain service. Let employers know you have a cellphone.
•Get your resume and cover letters up to date. Fashions change, and so do resume styles. Your local Work BC Employment Service Centre can help you bring your job searching tools up to date.
•Practice interviewing. If practice makes perfect, then practicing for an interview makes perfect sense.
•Answer the unasked question. If you think a potential employer may have concerns about your desire to do the job at your age, or may question how long you will stay or feel you may want a larger salary than they can afford, bring the issue up right away. Deal with any possible age discrimination as soon as you can. Show them your willingness and ability to get the job done!
•Find out about government sponsored programs for updating work-related skills. There are lots of different programs available free of charge to eligible job seekers in the 50-plus age group. Check out your local Work BC Employment Service Centre and find out which programs are available in your area. Programs are offered throughout the year at Work BC centres. Some programs offer financial supports to participants, provide skills training, workshops relating to finding and maintain employment, or becoming self-employed.
For more information, contact Kootenay Employment Services, Creston’s local Work BC Employment Service Centre at 250-428-5655 or visit the KES office at 119 11th Ave. N. Information on upcoming programs is available at kes.bc.ca.
—KOOTENAY EMPLOYMENT SERVICES