NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Just last week, the unemployment rate in Texas dropped from 9- to 8-percent. While the news is good, for most in that 8-percent finding a job is hard work.
A good chunk of unemployed Texans are more than 50-years-old, and they’re finding themselves in unknown territory unsure how to make it in today’s marketplace.
“Getting back out there was traumatic,” said Betsy Johnson, a 57-year-old who’s looking for a job – again. “You just have to start thinking ‘What can I do? What can I do?’”
The 57-year-old had to start from scratch after her divorce several years ago. For Johnson, re-entering the workforce has proved to be most challenging.
“The hardest part is not having the experience tech-wise,” she said. “I know how to get on [the computer] and do the basic things, but I want to know more.”
Johnson is just one of a growing list of older job applicants who are flooding today’s marketplace.
“It’s layoffs, its people making career transitions, its industries that are declining,” said John Romanow, who runs the Irving office of Kelly Services – a job training and placement firm.
According to Romanow, in the last two years Kelly Services has seen more than a 15 percent increase in older workers looking for new jobs.”It’s a wide range of skill sets and a wide range of industries that we’re seeing,” he said.
Many experts say in order for workers to find their next job, they’ve got to be willing to put themselves ‘out there’ in person through face-to-face networking, and online through social networks like LinkedIn.
“Social networking is huge nowadays when you’re trying to find a job,” said Romanow. “The more contacts you can have and the more you can network with people in a new industry the more able you’re going to be to fit into that new industry.”
Above all else, though, job placement counselors we spoke to say you’ve got to be flexible and open to new possibilities.
“The most important thing is that they have to have an open mind, and they have to be willing to get the training that’s required and make the jump to the new industry that’s expanding,” Romanow said.
Meanwhile, Johnson says she’ll continue doing temp work until she finds a job that fits her best. But, to all the employers who are hiring, she has this advice – “Don’t miss out on the over 50 crowd, because we have a lot to offer.”
So, what else can you do if you’re older than 50 and looking for a job?
— A perfected, customized résumé is necessary to get noticed. Résumés should be tailored to highlight significant accomplishments, experiences and training related to specific jobs. Detailed, past relevant experience & training is the first thing an employer looks for.
— Considering joining a professional network or association within your field of interest/experience. Reach out to your local Chamber of Commerce or community center to see if they have any “meet & greets” or workforce related events.
— Don’t be afraid to “think out of the box!” Often job seekers fail to recognize the transferable skills they possess for another type of job or within a different industry.
— Focus on your experience & work ethic during your interview, as that’ll set you apart from younger applicants. Many employers are seeking highly qualified, skilled, and resourceful workers who can quickly and seamlessly add significant value.
— Continuously improving and updating your computer skills, including internet research, will expand your skill set and increase your competitiveness. In addition, maintaining any type of certification demonstrates dedication and interest in advancing your personal knowledge and skills.
— Be aware of the importance of “soft” skills, as they have become increasingly important to employers. Today’s job market requires that employees use effective communication skills, show confidence, have a positive attitude, be poised, and sell themselves as professionals. Soft skills promote marketability to potential employers, and allow candidates to demonstrate their ability to connect skills and experience to a job, and describe how it will benefit the organization.