Workers 55+ Face Challenges Unlike Those of Any Other Labor Group, Says Career Coach Hallie Crawford

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For older workers (55+) seeking employment—especially those contemplating a career change—the unemployment situation can be very confusing, says certified career coach, speaker and author Hallie Crawford, founder of Create Your Career Path. On one hand, the jobless rate for 55+ workers is lower than for prime-age workers (25-54) and dropping, per the AARP’s analysis of June 2012 government statistics. On the other, 55+ jobseekers stay unemployed for more than a year (nearly twice the overall average). When they do find work, employers don’t remunerate them commensurate with their experience.

“A July 2012 brief by the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] found that 55+ workers find it harder to maintain salary and benefit levels compared to their previous employment,” says Crawford.

For older workers (55+) seeking employment—especially those contemplating a career change—the unemployment situation can be very confusing, says certified career coach, speaker and author Hallie Crawford, founder of Create Your Career Path. On one hand, the jobless rate for 55+ workers is lower than for prime-age workers (25-54) and dropping, per the AARP’s analysis of June 2012 government statistics. On the other, 55+ jobseekers stay unemployed for more than a year (nearly twice the overall average). When they do find work, employers don’t remunerate them commensurate with their experience.

“A July 2012 brief by the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] found that 55+ workers find it harder to maintain salary and benefit levels compared to their previous employment,” says Crawford. “That’s not surprising, given how long it takes them to land a job.”
However, that same report found that once employers hire older workers, they prize them for their greater knowledge of job tasks, willingness to learn new tasks quickly, wisdom and resilience, Crawford notes. In fact, this appreciation is strong enough to outweigh concerns about possible negatives such as absenteeism and illness.

“Rather than be forced to accept a job with lower pay or benefits than they previously held, older job seekers—and especially career changers—can take proactive steps to persuade the right employers to hire them more quickly,” says Crawford, who has a team—and specialized programs—dedicated to helping older workers.

“Training, assessment tests, road-mapping, coaching and other activities popular with younger age groups are the perfect way for older workers to positions themselves as prime candidates deserving of plumb jobs with higher salaries and better benefit packages.”

Tips Crawford offers for late-stage career changers include:

Reassess: If you are considering taking a new direction, evaluate why you want to make the change. Were you unhappy, bored or underutilized in your previous career? Were the reasons tied to the business itself, or did you dislike the industry in which you worked? Such questions can help you uncover hidden desires or dislikes that are important to your future success. If you are uncertain of your true motivations, professional assessment tests can help define your inner desires regarding work and life.

Reposition: Once you determine what you didn’t like before and what you want to do now, frame the change in a positive light. Employers are far more interested in a candidate who says, “My experience helping a friend through cancer reinforced my passion for a career in health care” than one who says, “After 30 years of doing data entry, I was going insane.”

Relate: Make an inventory of your skillsets, and be sure to include life experience such as volunteer work. Did you run the fundraiser for a local charity? Did you help start a homeowner’s association? If you performed complex management tasks as a volunteer, include those efforts on your resume. Frequently, older workers have expended more energy giving back to the community than their younger counterparts, and this experience is valuable. (Conversely, if you realize you need some “get-up-to-speed” training jump in with both feet.)

Reinforce: While you shouldn’t feel “deficient” because of your age (and try to make up for it in conversation), there is nothing wrong with illustrating that it gives you advantages younger workers lack. For example, feel free to volunteer that your family is complete or your children are old enough for you to be flexible regarding travel. If you won’t require family health insurance, that’s a plus, too.

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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