December 24, 2018 — (this is a continuation of our “Time to Retire Retirement” Series.) Part 1 of this series starts with the idea that since people are living active lives much longer than what used to be retirement age, the idea of retirement might need to be reconsidered. In this edition we want to focus on the difficulties that older workers have if they decide to take up on that idea – postponing or maybe never retiring. An article from the Wall St. Journal, “Booming Employment Market Can’t Fill the Retirement Shortfall“, has some very sobering information on older people who would like to remain in the workplace.
The number of older Americans are out of work or stuck in low-quality jobs is large, almost 8 million. Over 5 million of those do not have health insurance. Adding to retirement savings or improving their earning record for Social Security in a meaningful way is difficult for them. Even for those who do manage getting another job, their earnings after a period of unemployment will likely suffer. Whereas workers under 30 usually see a 7% increase in their earnings after a period of not working, people over 56 experience an average earnings decline of 27%. Workers over 55 spend an average of three months longer looking for a job than do the unemployed aged 25-54. Sadly, the longer anyone is unemployed the more unattractive they become to the job market.
Many reasons. There are a variety of reasons why older workers face a harder time finding a job. One is age discrimination. Certain experiments show that resumes with clues that a candidate is older often do not generate the interviews that similarly qualified resumes from a younger people do. Even when they do get an interview, people in their 50s and 60s don’t get job offers at the same rate as younger folks. To some extent employers are not looking in the places where older workers hang out, and vice versa. Companies fear that older candidates might require more expensive health care insurance. Older candidates often do not have the latest job skills and qualifications, particularly in the technical world. They are probably not as adept at negotiating the digital recruiting marketplace, nor are they as flexible about relocation.
Some are trying to help. One employer that is capitalizing on the market for older job seekers is Chroma Technology Corp in Vermont, which has 44% of its worker aged 54 or older. It offers training and sabbaticals to workers of all ages. A number of nonprofits are trying to assist older workers get good jobs. One of those is Nova Workforce Development Board, a nonprofit employment training agency in Silicon Valley. Another is New Directions Career Center, which helps women in central Ohio. Outfits like these try to “de-age” resumes and update skills to make candidates more attractive employment prospects, as well as work with employers and other organizations to hold job fairs.
What can you do. If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself unemployed when you don’t want to be, there are some steps you can take. You do have to be active though, no one is going to seek you out if you don’t look! Here are some steps and resources that can help:
- Look online and ask others what kind of organizations are available in your area to help older workers find jobs
- Get familiar with online recruiting vehicles that are used in the field(s) you are interested in
- Contact your community college to see what kind of vocational training they offer. Most are interested in training people for the vacant jobs that exist in your area
- Get help updating your resume to de-age it and emphasize your skills, training, and strengths for today’s market
- Think about applying for part time work, even if your goal is full time. If the situation is right, maybe you can work your way to full time or get the experience to move on
- Practice role playing to make your questions and answers more attractive and relevant to an interviewer who might be much younger than you are.
Comments? Please let know about your job seeking experiences. Any tips or strategies that worked, or didn’t work?