February 28, 2002 CAREERBUILDERS.COM
Golden Years, Golden Jobs.
Many companies value experience over youth.
By Sheri Waldrop
you're 55 or older, you are part of the fastest growing sectors of the
U.S. workforce. But what
if your company has downsized, or you are forced by necessity to start
job hunting? Where should
you start your job search, especially when tales of job-related discrimination
against older employees abound?
good news is that age discrimination may be overstated, according to Barry
Honig, president of Riskon, a New Jersey firm specializing in placement
of executives in the financial services and technology fields.
If someone has the skills, and has kept themselves up-to-date
in their field, they can usually get the job.
Attitude is key, says
Honig, especially as younger managers may feel threatened by a more mature
or experienced interviewee. The
thought is This guy might replace me.'
That's why emphasizing how you can contribute to the manager's
and the company's success is important.
Honig has successfully placed people on Wall Street who are in
their 50s. The track record
is more important than age in this area.
the Jobs Are
starting a job hunt in your post-40 era, stick to companies and industries
known for their willingness to look at experience and skills instead of
birth certificate numbers, when hiring their employees.
Consider some of these golden opportunities:
Estate. According to a
representative at Century 21 Real Estate corporate headquarters, the
average age of its realtors nationwide is 52. Jim Duncan, owner of a Century 21 franchise in Texas,
agrees. I have a former
pharmaceutical sales person who started in his 50s, a former restaurant
manager in his fifties, and a former clothing store owner in her late
40s who are all doing well as agents, he says.
21's program, Mature Moves, specifically geared toward recruiting adults
over age 55. The more
mature agent often has an extensive network of contacts from a lifetime
of experience, which can give them an enormous advantage over the younger
agent, company sources note.
The flexible hours also draw many realtors.
contractors. Says Honig,
These firms contract with Uncle Sam, so they have to be extra sure
to play by government rules. That
includes not discriminating against someone because of age.
Also, government agencies, such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
are excellent job fields for older workers with relevant skills.
Andrea Wooten, president of Experience Works (formerly Green
Thumb), a nationwide placement agency for older workers, states that
her company's home-health training and placement program has been successful
in placing older workers because of the demand for qualified help in
the burgeoning healthcare field.
But, she adds, I also emphasize to people that this can be
physically demanding work, and to be sure that they are up to it.
an attempt to deal with a critical nursing shortage and delay early
retirement, many hospitals are offering refresher courses for nurses
who left the field years ago.
Many states now actively recruit retired teachers, encouraging
them to continue teaching with enticements such as a Deferred Retirement
Option Plan; for example, nearly 10% of the teachers in Ohio are rehired
retired teachers. And school districts actively recruit tutors and mentors
from the ranks of the retired.
for specific companies? Consider Wal-Mart, where 10% of employees are 55+, according
to company headquarters, and security work for firms such as Pinkerton/Burns
Service Corporation, where more than one-third of employees are older
than 40. We have many successful
security officers in their 60s, 70s, even 80s, states Kathy Rasmussen
Marks, director of Program Operations, Workforce Development Division
at the National Council on Aging (NCOA), notes that several businesses
have entered into an agreement with NCOA to train and hire older workers;
these businesses have a proven track record in fair hiring practices.
The businesses include:
can increase your chance of getting a new job several ways:
your job skills and keep them fresh.
realistic in your salary requirement, especially if you are starting
at a new company or in a new field.
your resume and highlight pertinent skills.
the interview to showcase your years of experience as an extra available
following these steps and starting with markets that are open to older
job seekers, you can increase your chances of getting the job that you
want, at any age.