Unemployed and Over 55
Unique Challenges in Economically Hard Times
If you’re 50 and over and suddenly laid-off you are among thousands of others just like you filing for unemployment and wondering, “What now? Who’s going to hire me?”
The Baby Boomers as a whole have stuck around in good jobs and their numbers grow every year. So while it seems as though you have been let go because you’re “older” in many cases the reason is simply that there are many more 55 and older workers. No one, old or young, educated or uneducated, rich or poor, male or female, is immune from unemployment.
In fact, the number of unemployed climb exponentially among younger workers, the highest being among the 16 to 19 year olds and the 20 to 24 year olds.
Unemployed and Discouraged
The Bureau of Labor Statistics actually counts the number of unemployed that are “Discouraged” and not looking for jobs for a variety of reasons, including: “thinks no work available, could not find work, lacks schooling or training, employer thinks too young or old, and other types of discrimination.” *
According to the AARP, some of the resignation among older unemployed workers is due to the length of time it takes many of them to find a new job. In general younger workers suddenly out of work, bounce back quickly and pick up ad hoc jobs, here and there, but older workers are not as resilient.
Here are some tips for older and unemployed adults:
- Register at your local Workforce Center and be enthusiastic about finding a job.
- Accept the fact that this is a lengthy recession and that actually finding a job may take a while.
- Get help creating your resume or updating the one you have.
- Use any job interview as an opportunity to refresh and fine-tune your interviewing skills.
- If your computer skills are feeble or non-existent, explore the opportunities for local community education courses that train you in basic or advanced skills. Courses like these are common almost everywhere; they are affordable, if not free, and convenient.
- File your resume with a temporary staffing agency, highlight your years of experience and your strengths.
- Get job references in writing from colleagues, managers/supervisors, clients/customers—encourage them to include quantifiable information in their reference letters. Ask a few if they are willing to provide the same in verbal references. These are “testimonials” to your qualifications and experience—what you can bring and offer to an employer/place of business.
- Seek the support of a local group of unemployed adults—groups like these have cropped up all over the country.
- Volunteer with an organization you respect and might enjoy learning more about.
- Check out your job hunting opportunities with job placement services that offer assistance specifically for those over 50 or over 55.
Older employees offer employers some benefits that younger workers do not: you are more likely to stay in a job long-term and to remain motivated and engaged.