Keeping Skills Sharp; Varied is Key to Finding or Changing Jobs, says Career Coach Hallie Crawford, Founder of Create Your Career Path

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Older Workers Continue to Stay Unemployed Longer Despite Reductions in Jobless Rate

If you are already working at a firm, expanding your skillset might just keep you from being tapped for the next round of layoffs,” said Hallie Crawford, founder, Create Your Career Path.

The news from the Department of Labor continues to encourage optimism, with the jobless rate falling to 8.3 in the January 2012 report. Unemployment for older workers (55+) fell for the third straight month to 5.9%. However, the amount of time they stay unemployed rose—from 52.2 weeks to 56.1—while the average duration of unemployment, overall, fell from 40.8 weeks to 40.1. These statistics illustrate the challenges mature workers face finding—or changing—jobs, says Create Your Career Path Founder Hallie Crawford. She advises older workers to keep their skillsets sharp and broad-based in order to stay competitive and relevant.

"At a recent lecture I gave, one of the attendees likened this process to ‘sharpening your saw,’ and that’s a really apt analogy,” says Crawford. “It’s easy for mature workers to become complacent in their positions and think they have mastered everything there is to know about an industry. That leads them to lose their edge—to let their ‘career saw’ become dull.”

Crawford points to technology as one area where workers frequently become out-of-date without realizing it. “Someone may have taken a job 20 years ago before the advent of Twitter, Google Chat and other digital communications vehicles. They’re in management, and their younger assistant handles communications, so they don’t use these vehicles,” she says. “Then, their company downsizes and their job goes away, or their spouse takes a new job elsewhere and they want to move with them. They begin applying for positions similar to the one they had and discover that prospective employers expect them to use digital media proficiently.”

Crawford says that broadening one’s skillset—again, especially if that effort incorporates emerging trends and technologies—is also important for mature workers. “Assume you’re a graphic designer and you’ve always handled print media. Take the initiative to learn at least the fundamentals of digital media development, like Web design,” says Crawford.

“That will not only make you more marketable, but it will also enable you to qualify for a wider range of positions. And, if you are already working at a firm, expanding your skillset might just keep you from being tapped for the next round of layoffs.”

About Create Your Career Path
Since 2002 Create Your Career Path and their team of certified career coaches have helped job searchers nationwide identify their ideal career path, navigate their career transition and achieve their career goals. New college grads through mid-career professionals have used our career coaches to find their dream job. Create Your Career Path was founded by certified career coach, speaker and author Hallie Crawford. Crawford has served on the Board of the Georgia Coach Association, and is regularly featured as a career expert on CNN, Fox Business News, the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo HotJobs and Entrepreneur Magazine.

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Jennifer Koon
Michael Mackenzie Communications
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