I just resigned my position after working there for (off and on) 17 years. I will be 65 in May. Is it realistic of me to look for work? I have a solid background as an administrative assistant/office manager. Should I resign to take just part-time jobs? What are my chances really -- even though one should not be discriminated for one's age.
Thanks for you help.
-- A Senior
by Ronnie Ann, Work Coach
This is a great question that many of us baby boomers are thinking about. The short answer is: There’s no way to know until you try. But the good news is your chances are much better than they used to be.
While studies show on average people over 50 get only half the interviews of younger applicants, more and more companies are starting to see the value of experienced workers. And as Baby Boomers age into their 60s, there will be a larger proportion of older workers than ever before – helping make the whole thing more natural and therefore a little easier for us all.
But each case is slightly different. For example, in your case I’m not sure whether you live in a small town or large city – this will certainly influence your options and chances. It’s also important that you have a good reason for leaving your last job and are able and willing to come to any interview with a positive attitude ready to take on whatever they have for you.
Some of the bad rap older workers get is that they are inflexible - unwilling to learn new methods or skills. And, fair or not, companies also worry that older workers might not be willing to work overtime or that they might be sick more often. Plus there is a not-all-together-unfounded fear of company health insurance premiums skyrocketing if the company gets too many older people.
But don’t let all that talk stop you from what you want to do. I’ve personally gotten “impossible” job offers by not listening when people tell me why I can’t do something. It’s a waste of time to focus on all that. Your time is better spent thinking about how to get yourself where you want to go. And there are definitely jobs out there for older workers – you just need to help interviewers see you as the potential asset that you are.
So arm yourself with the following interview basics (which anyone any age can use):
• An energetic appearance
• Solution-oriented approach
• Show that you’re a team player (and not a been-there, done-that know-it-all)
• Be willing to listen and learn
• Come prepared with real-life examples of things you handled well in your previous worklife (not boasting, just sharing)
• Show up looking well-groomed and rosy-cheeked. (You can even slip in that you do aerobics regularly, if, in fact, you do.)
• Let them see that you have a can-do attitude (and not a “can’t-be-done” scowl)
Be proud of who you are and your experience. Walk in as someone ready to roll up your sleeves and get the job done. No one wants to hire a worker who has her head hanging low or seems to be begging for work. You are offering them a seasoned worker with excellent skills. No apologies necessary.
You mention you’ve had office manager and admin experience. Great! Definitely apply for jobs in that field. Also, if there are temp agencies in your town, this is a really good way to ease into the next job. Sometimes you even find yourself a permanent position this way – and the best part is you and the company get to try each other on for size. (If only we could do that with elected officials!)
Another thought…if you are open to using this as a chance to learn new skills, the medical support field is growing. Doctors’ offices, clinics, and hospitals need help – especially if you’re willing to learn how to deal with their billing. Some people even figure out a way to freelance these skills and not only charge a good rate, but get to be their own boss. Not a bad thing.
Or you might want to look for an opening in a company and job you’ve never considered before. To help trigger some thoughts -- Don Browne’s blog Southwest Florida Online - Sunday Morning News suggests taking a look at the AARP’s list of 30 companies that are very friendly to hiring older workers.
In fact, as Browne mentions, some employers actually want more seasoned employees who have a solid work ethic. And they know you aren’t just job-hopping so you will very likely stick around longer than some younger workers. I used to help with hiring and hoped to find older workers for those very reasons.
The main thing is to go into your search with an open mind and a good attitude. You may have to bend a bit here or there, but haven’t we learned to do that by now? Polish up your resume, present a well-groomed energetic appearance, and don’t stop until someone says “yes.” And while I can’t guarantee you won’t wind up with part-time work, there is nothing to stop you from aiming to find that full-time position you want. Just remember to brush off the “no thank yous” and keep going until you find the job that says "yes." You only need one.
Good luck! Please let me know how it goes.
Susan Ireland’s Two Cents
Red Alert | An Over-50 Jobseeker Has Just Entered the Building is a post by Teena Rose,in which she gives interview advice to job seekers over 50. Here’s a short excerpt from that post:
Keep a positive mindset and you’ll appear young and lively. An optimistic outlook is not always easy, particularly when you’ve gone on several interviews that don’t result to job offers. Support and golden age groups -- provided by county career centers and sponsored by colleges -- will provide support, a networking forum, and employment contacts that will make your job search flow smoothly.
Job Lounger, do you have a question? Email (firstname.lastname@example.org) it to me and I’ll post your question and an expert’s answer here in The Job Lounge.