September 4, 2013

Will I Find Employment if I’m an Older Job Hunter?

writers groupThis post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out like Kate and Rebecca who inspired me to begin). Once a month we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

This month’s insecurity doesn’t sound like a writing insecurity, does it? Bare with me. I’ll get you there. I went to a get-together at the home of a writer friend, Diana. I thought we were going to talk about blogging–all of us getting our struggling blogs going, following each other, in a mutual rising tide sort of thing. But it didn’t work out that way. We got distracted (though I think Diana planned this). We got to talking about our jobs, careers, futures. Everyone sitting there was over 60 and had been booted from a job with Big Business (one was Barnes and Noble, another a teacher, a few were a while ago and they were still looking for that next opportunity). There was amazing talent in that room–writing, sales, IT–and still we all wondered if anyone would take a chance on us. Mostly, we decided no, no one would, so we’d have to do it ourselves.

We had good reason to believe we were on our own. Arleen Bradley over at Career Coaching wrote this:

Some company recruiters … discriminate against the unemployed in hiring. Resumes submitted through the big board sites and career fairs drop to the bottom of the pile never to make it to the top because these resumes are thought to come from the unemployed and the unemployed need not apply.

Recognizing the challenges posed by biased hiring practices, it becomes imperative to address and actively work on Overcoming bias in the workplace.

She shared terms used by recruiters when considering an unemployed applicant (as opposed to those gainfully employed):

  • lazy
  • apply for any available job whether or not their skills match the requirements
  • submit unprofessional resumes
  • can’t follow simple directions
  • haven’t kept up with the changes in their field and their skills are rusty
  • rude to people below the hiring managers’ level
  • stalkers

That didn’t describe a single person in the group I was with. Every one of them was struggling, eager to work, ready to be creative about where their next dollar could come from. They were researching, learning new skills (like blogging), helping each other. Does that sound lazy or incompetent?

And Arleen understood that:

…that is not the case in most situations now. Many people were laid off because their entire department was eliminated, their jobs were sent overseas, or the company folded.

Which is where blogging came in. My group of writers would create blogs to start our Next Big Career, to promote ourselves, using the beneficence of social media as the engine for our paycheck. We would share our resources, see what happened.

But what if nothing happens?

Now, I’m pretty upbeat so I choose to take the upside of this abyss and call it an opportunity. In fact, my small group is a microcosm of what I see going on all over the country. Older people are going self-employed. They’re refusing to be beaten down when traditional job paths kick them to the curb and tell them they’re finished. They aren’t finished. They’ve only just begun. They’re networking, reaching out through blogs to others, offering their skills for free or fee, and doing it with energy, alacrity, cerebral panache. Most sixty-year-olds will live twenty more years, way too long for most retirement funds. Older workers are ready and willing to create a patchwork of revenue sources, stitched together from being a WalMart greeter, an columnist, and a self-published author on Kindle. This is what gives headhunters nightmares. Older workers aren’t looking for that fulltime job that pays six figures. They’ll take their expertise, tested skills, track record of accomplishment and put it to work for themselves, in their own business.

Which is where insecurity pokes its nose under my positive tent: What if it doesn’t work? What if my friends (and maybe me) put a lot of work into something that fails? What if they spend the finite asset of their energy and enthusiasm on an idea that can’t be monetized enough to carry them through to a social security check that my never arrive?

I just tore off another fingernail at the prospect. I better get back to my writing. I KNOW I won’t succeed if I don’t finish my current WIP.

BTW, anyone interested in starting an online 60+ group?

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, IMS tech expert, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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