Friday, June 18, 2010

AARP Resources for Job Searchers over 50

There are several challenges for job searchers over the age of 50. Edwin (Ed) A. Redfern, Jr. is a Senior Program Manager for AARP Education & Outreach focusing on Workforce Issues in Washington, DC. Here is his article "Aid for Older Job Seekers" from the National Career Development Association's website: More...
The Challenges Older Workers Face

As the recession continues, unemployed people over the age of 50 continue to face steeper job hunting challenges than their younger counterparts. People over 50 search for new jobs for an average of 36 weeks or longer, compared to 27 weeks for younger workers. And while the overall unemployment rate has held steady, the rate for those over 55 actually rose from 6.8% to 7.1% accounting for more than 2 million people in that age group out of work.

Even when the economic situation improves, employers tell us they plan to do more with less, and may not be hiring in the same numbers they were laying off. In fact, according to a Manpower Q1 hiring projections survey, only about 12% of mostly large companies actually plan on hiring staff in 2010, leaving the remaining 88% holding their staffing at the same levels or even eliminating more positions.

This creates more challenges for older job seekers. Older job seekers are still making strategic career moves, looking to do something different, and/or have to return to work out of economic necessity as a result of the losses their retirement portfolios took during the recession. However, many have not had to look for a job in quite some time and have no idea where to begin their job searches. The job search process today is very different from when they first started their careers. Gone are the days when you could send a resume to HR, who would then route it internally for hiring managers to indicate their interest, and help determine where you could fit in an organization. Now jobseekers have all the responsibility to package their relevant skills and experience in a way that makes them stand out in employer's eyes and from the others that are looking for work. In addition, technology plays an ever increasing important role in the job search process - used by employers and savvy job seekers alike.

Lengthy job searches trigger other issues in job seekers' lives that contribute to their inability to find work. Many experience a loss of self-esteem, frustration and desperation, emotions that can be challenging to manage during job interviews. Emotional distress, combined with a highly competitive job market, can be daunting when added to the financial stress that unemployment often brings. As a result, we have found that job seekers over the age of 50 need assistance beyond what is typically offered by traditional employment resources.

Solutions by AARP

AARP for the past three years has been running career fairs at its national and regional events, and has developed a career fair model that helps meet jobseekers over age 50 where they are in their job search process. Our model includes providing a wide range of resources that are critical to helping jobseekers get their careers back on track. AARP provides job seekers with career counselors to discuss job search strategy, an Internet Café to learn how to use social media in a job search, unique information to help older job seekers better position their skills and years of experience, and connection to employers that are hiring.

In 2010, in order to reach a broader number of job seekers age 50+, AARP is working with The Employment Guide's in a campaign that will span 19 states with the highest unemployment, and include 48 career fair events. The events, which were kicked off in Atlanta on March 24, will have specific resources for job seekers age 50+, including employers that are hiring - some from AARP's National Employer Team- a workshop, titled Promoting Yourself at Age 50+, career coaches from local community colleges and local chapters of the National Career Development Association, and information specifically for job seekers age 50+ from AARP. We are particularly emphasizing the role of the career coaches as we have found the many older jobseekers cannot or do not want to return their previous careers, or have to return to work for economic necessity and really need help with transferring their skills to new careers. Thus, the career coaches are playing a critical role in this campaign.

The Helping Experience Work@50+ campaign is one of many resources AARP has developed to help jobseekers age 50+ in these tough economic times. Some of the resources include downloadable job tips, a job board, Webinars, the National Employer Team program, and career fair events around the country including our annual national event, this year in Orlando. For more information on our job search resources, visit AARP's resources can help you as you work with older clients looking for work in this challenging economic environment.

NCDA Story Link

AARP Job Link


  1. As a Recruitment Consultant I have come across another interesting phenomena during the recent recession. Older workers are preferred over younger ones at lower management levels. This is so because they have more experience and with so many job losses, older workers are found accepting these roles at less salaries.

  2. I am 61 years old and have been attending university for 5 years and it has been a struggle. But I realize it is a good time to because I am updated with what is going on in the work world. I realized with a lot of work I can do it. I believe I can keep going for another 20 years. I am also a First Nations woman. I think some people have started late and that is what encoutages me. Anyways I found this site because I am in the process to build a type of resume that I never have before. I mean is all I ever did was hard labour type of work all my life and now trying to find work apply my new skills. Thank you for giving me a chance to say something.