HOPEFUL Mark Krieger, 61, laid off a year ago from a six- figure tech job, may have an offer. “I didn’t get any dumber with time on my hands,” he says.
Fighting the age barrier
Employers may be struggling to find good jobs for seasoned
workers. Hank Jackson, CEO of the Society of Human Resources
Management, offers a few pointers on how to break the age
barrier and get hired:
; Bust the stereotype: Under-
stand that there might be special
negative perceptions about you
because of your age. Be prepared
to show they’re wrong.
; Network: Tell everyone you’re
looking. Get names to call.
; Redo your résumé: List only
the past 10 years of experience.
; Brush up: Keep your skills—
especially technology skills—
fresh. Take a class. Join professional groups and volunteer.
; Be creative: Explore internships and fellowships. Consider
starting a consulting business.
Or work for a temp agency—it
could lead to a permanent job.
he says. He was still out of work in
early September but was crossing
his fingers over a promising job lead.
Bleak as things appear, job market experts say much can be done
to improve an older worker’s chance
of getting hired again. There are
in every state designed to help older workers find their way back in.
(The Department of Labor’s Career-OneStop is a good place to start.)
“I won’t say there isn’t age discrimination out there; there is. But
a lot of it is how you present yourself, what you say and how you say
it,” says Don Zirkle, a training and
placement supervisor at Mature
Services in Ohio.
Older workers tend to lack the formal credentials com- mon among their younger
counterparts—a four-year degree
or certification of technical training, for instance.
When it comes to searching for
work, they can be rusty. They come
from a generation that held the
same job for years, even decades.
And misconceptions about older
workers abound: They get sick
more, have poor attendance, expect
high wages, lack ambition or are
technology-impaired (a particularly
galling stereotype for a generation
that invented computers).
SUCCESS Pam Gaul
got a job by using a
commercial” she wrote to
pitch her strengths.
a pretty smile, so I should make
sure I kept my lips closed. I had to
One of Gaul’s homework assign-
ments was to write a 60-second
commercial about herself. Short-
ly after finishing the course, the
Bridgestone Tire Company’s Akron
Technical Center called her for an
interview. Asked why she was the
one to hire, she did her commercial.
She’s now an executive assistant
again, still giddy a year later. She
took a 17 percent pay cut and didn’t
care. “I tell people there I am the
happiest person in this company.”
Hard as it is to imagine in today’s tight market, experts believe
there is an expanding role for older
workers in tomorrow’s labor force.
“Foresighted employers are an-
ticipating labor shortages,” says Ni-
cole Maestas, a RAND Corp. senior
economist. “And one way to offset
that is to keep your older workers
And what do they have to offer?
“The answer,” she says, “is experience.” ;
Faye Fiore, a former national correspondent for the Los Angeles
Times, writes on consumer issues.