If you're older and looking for a job, you are probably familiar with discouragement. Even as the overall unemployment rate drops and new positions are created each month, mature workers are finding it difficult to land a new job. In April, unemployed workers 55 and older had spent an average of 50 weeks looking for a position, according to government statistics. This "duration of unemployment" is higher for people 55 and older than any other age group, and has risen in the past few months.
The intense frustration this engenders is leading many older workers to stop their job search. Matthew Rutledge, a research economist at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, recently published an analysis that found that the vast majority from that pool of workers, especially those eligible for Social Security, stop searching in a year or less if they don't find employment.
Many suspect age discrimination is a culprit, and it may be a factor. Rutledge points to research done at Northeastern University where they sent out "dummy" resumés to several employers and just varied the age of the applicant. "Older applicants, especially if they'd been out of the job force for a long time, were less likely to get calls back," Rutledge says.
It might also be a case where some employers believe an older worker does not have the technology skills to succeed in today's workplace. Job seekers can help alleviate those concerns by using technology as a key element of their employment search; this means using online social networks. "It's going to be on older workers to make sure they keep up with technology, that they have LinkedIn accounts, that they know which websites and job boards to search," Rutledge says. "They're going to have to 'tech-up' to make sure they can do it efficiently."
If you need some help learning how to "tech-up," Hempstead Public Library is holding a free workshop on Wednesday aimed at those who need to update their job-search skills. The workshop is from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and includes tips on writing resumés, social networking and using Web searches. To register, call 516-481-6990.
Cold Spring Harbor Library is presenting a $30 workshop on how to use LinkedIn on Thursday, from 6:30 to 8:45 p.m. To register, call 631-692-6820.