Old and unemployed? Here’s how you can adapt to the workforce

(Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Pixabay)
(Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Pixabay)

Here’s a fact: 40 percent of the workforce is 55 years and older.

That’s according to the 2016 U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.

Another interesting tidbit: Not every employee is staying in the same job until she or he retires.

“In the last year, I saw an increase of people who are 50 and older seeking assistance with updating their resumes and redefining their job search strategies,” said Alex Aberle, president and founder of XCaliber Coaching & Consulting LLC based in Suffolk.

Aberle said a majority of her clients fall into five categories: wanting a career change, finding a career to fit advanced degree, being laid off, looking for a promotion, or starting his or her own business.

“Most older workers seek careers due to unexpected workforce reductions,” she said.

For those who become unemployed, entering the workforce can seem challenging despite years of experience.

“People can feel very defeated and discouraged and particularly think that they are not going to be valued,” said Claire Jacobs, career coach for college students and young adults at The Jacobs Group in Williamsburg.

Jacobs, who previously worked with older clients at a outplacement center, said adults are intimidated by technology, and while she doesn’t want to stereotype millennials, older folks should remember they do have valuable skills.

“I believe they have a distinct advantage over young students and recent graduates in that typically they are much more comfortable with face to face and telephone interactions than millennials,” she said. “Employers are interested in people who have good interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, good problem solving skills, we’ve honed in our own experiences”

Staying relevant

Create a LinkedIn profile and start networking.

“Network, network, network,” said Holly Conger, a career coach from Norfolk. “And don’t just rely on mentors or former bosses and colleagues.”

Conger recommends creating a LinkedIn profile which can help you connect with other people and figure out personal connections you can leverage.

“Some folks can be resistant to branding efforts and fear they are disingenuously self promoting but there are ways to properly position yourself that create a brand that’s forward thinking, genuine and projects an ageless professional value add,” she said.

Jacobs teaches her clients ‘informational interviewing’ where they talk to people who are doing things they might be interested which is better than applying to a job online.

“All research suggest a vast majority of jobs that are open on any given day are not posted publicly,” Jacobs said.

In addition to LinkedIn, contact your college alumni office, become a mentor and join professional or volunteer groups.

Or, hire a career coach.

“Don’t let your busy job with your current employer distract you from building relationships outside of your place of work,” Aberle said.

She said most baby boomers have great work ethic and are ‘married’ to their jobs for years but they forget to build a professional network outside their field.

Aberle suggests taking courses or certificates to stay relevant in the industry and to make sure you update your resume.

“Nobody is guaranteed a job forever. Not anymore,” Aberle said. “Prepare for the unexpected.”

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.