Seniors Face Challenges in Finding Work

Seniors Face Challenges in Finding Work

I am a member of the Society of Certified Senior Advisors and receive a monthly newsletter that always has articles I think you’ll find interesting. This one is for Seniors who are looking for jobs. The article offers some really good tips and resources for even more information. If you’re interested in being a CAREGiver or know somebody who is, Home Instead Senior Care is always looking for people. Visit our website at for more information.

Not only has the 2008 recession put a dent in a lot of retirement accounts but people are living longer, so it makes financial sense to keep working as long as you can, either full-time or part-time.

In fact, AARP estimates that more than 3 million workers age 50-plus are looking for full-time employment. Unfortunately, there’s also a rise in reports of discrimination against older adults in the workplace.

After the website requested comments about seniors’ job search experience, it was flooded with stories about repeated rejections. One senior wrote:

I had never experienced “age discrimination” until I had to go job hunting a year ago. I heard comments from “young interviewers,” such as “we are not looking for a mother figure in the office”; “well, you must have seen just about everything!”; “this position requires someone that can keep up in a very fast paced environment.” I was 58 at the time, have worked for over 20 years. I don’t have gray hair and have been told I look very young for my age!

But don’t give up. You might need to learn some new social media tricks, but you can also rely on some traditional methods of persuasion, such as your maturity (see sidebar).

Why Employers Should Hire Seniors

While older adults might not have all the technical skills that younger workers do, they have attributes that will always be in demand. Here’s a few:Track record: Older adults have decades of work experience, so employers know what they’re getting, compared to a younger person whose experience is unknown.Flexibility: Without young families to take care of, seniors can schedule their work more easily.Maturity: Most seniors aren’t trying to “get ahead” by playing games or attempting to impress their friends; they just want a good livelihood. They’re more willing to help others because they don’t have to prove their egos, and they have the confidence to share ideas.Hard workers: Most older adults are from a generation that grew up learning the value of money and work.

Conscientious: Seniors were taught at home and school to be punctual and honest.

Focused: Older adults grew up before the era of texting and other instant forms of gratification, so they are more patient and able to take time to solve problems.

Communication: Because seniors weren’t raised on Facebook and texting, many are more skilled at face-to-face communication.

Cost less: Many seniors may be on Medicare or on spouses’ health insurance plans, so they cost an employer less. According to AARP, by retaining older workers, some employers save more than half of an employee’s annual salary in retraining costs.

Less absenteeism: Experienced workers have been found to have fewer absences from work than their younger counterparts.

Commitment: According to an AARP study, health care workers over the age of 55 had the highest level of employee engagement, which greatly correlates with employer loyalty, performing well with little supervision and motivation to do their very best.

How to Prepare for the Search

When looking for work, experts recommend de-emphasizing your age. For example, don’t stress early work experiences, either on your resume or to the job interviewer. Include jobs on your resume that go back only 15 years for a managerial job, 10 years for a technical job and five years for a high-tech job. If you want to list positions older than that, don’t include dates. Also, on your resume, leave off high school and college graduation dates. In your cover letter, avoid using “experienced” or “seasoned.” Instead, emphasize your skills and flexibility.

Target your cover letter and resume to specifically highlight the relevant experience for the job you are applying for. You may want to use a “functional resume,” which cites your accomplishments first, rather than a chronological resume, which outlines your experience in date order.

Emphasize that you’re up-to-date with current technology by listing the latest programs you’ve worked with. To show prospective employers you’re current with social networking, include a link to your LinkedIn profile on your resume.

If the job posting requests your salary requirements, let your prospective employer know that you’re flexible. Avoid the appearance of being overqualified and/or overpriced.

Job Help for Seniors

Several sources offer assistance for older adults looking for work.

One is the AARP Foundation WorkSearch tool found at WorkSearch Information Network is an online employment guide that covers the job search process from start to finish. It helps you set goals and organize your job search activities, find out which job is best for you, learn how the job search process can maximize chances for finding employment, determine what employers are looking for and tap into social media and connect with other job seekers.

In a new program, AARP Foundation is partnering with local workforce service providers in Denver and Phoenix initially. Back to Work 50+, connects employers and training providers with unemployed or underemployed workers age 50 and over to create a pool of trained, prescreened, qualified workers available for employment. The program focuses on a specific set of difficult-to-fill and in-demand jobs, initially within the health care sector, using input from local employers about workforce needs to provide information and coaching to older workers seeking jobs. A secondary motive is to reduce employment barriers and provide job seekers access to skill-building opportunities.

For low-income job seekers age 55 or over, the U.S. Department of Labor offers classes through itsSenior Community Service Employment Program . Participants in the part-time employment program work at community and government agencies and are paid the federal or state minimum wage rate, whichever is higher. They may also receive training and use their participation as a bridge to other employment positions not supported with federal funds.

One website,, offers an “Age Friendly Employer Certification” program, where the companies listed have met “best practice” standards such as management style, flexible scheduling and health care benefits that tend to be senior-friendly. Companies that qualify include Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, as well as retailers like Starbucks and Target. Job websites specifically targeted toward post-retirement job seekers are,

Some of the fastest-growing business sectors and positions are nursing, retail sales, home health aides, office clerks, food service, customer service and truck driving, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While you may have to take classes to become certified, it may be worth it to more easily find work.

Networking Your Way to a Job

Reportedly, at least 60 percent of jobs are found by networking, either through friends, former colleagues or social media. Your career network should include anyone who can assist you with a job search or career move. It can contain past and present co-workers, bosses, friends with similar interests, colleagues from business associations, alumni from your university or acquaintances you have met via online networking services.

You can develop contacts through local business organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce or associations in your field, which often list their meetings or events online. If you are a college graduate, the career services office at your alma mater, as well as its career advisor network of alumni contacts, can be invaluable.

Employers are increasingly using social networking sites to attract and recruit candidates and to accept applications for employment. LinkedIn, Facebook and other online networking websites can connect you with other networkers at specific companies, with college affiliations or with opportunities in a certain geographic area. In fact, surveys report that almost 90 percent of companies are currently recruiting through social media.

If you don’t have an online presence, you will be at a disadvantage in this competitive job market. Strong social media participation can boost your candidacy and help ensure that recruiters and hiring managers will find you. An article in the June 2013 AARP Bulletin says many employers expect prospective employees to have a Facebook profile, website or blog (or both) and be Tweeting. “If you have no digital footprint, you’re likely to get a pass,” says Jane Bryant Quinn (“Looking for a Job? Go Social”).

The most widely used social media networking platform for professionals is LinkedIn. Individuals and companies use LinkedIn for networking, job searching, hiring, company research and connecting with affiliates, including alumni, industry and various other business-related groups.

One of the most important LinkedIn components is your profile, which is how people locate you. The more complete your LinkedIn description, the better your chances of being found and contacted. Use your LinkedIn profile like a resume, and check out LinkedIn company profiles to find more information about a company you’re interested in. You’ll be able to see connections at the company, new hires, promotions, posted jobs, and related organizations.


“How to Get Started With Social Networking,”
“How to Use LinkedIn,”
“Job Search and Career Networking Tips,”
“Successful Job Search Networking,”
“How to Find Job Search Help,”
“The Grey Ceiling: How Old is Too Old?”
“Resume Tips for Older Job Seekers,”