Tag Archives: aging workforce

The Striking French

Driving to the first of two yoga teaching gigs yesterday, I listened to a report on NPR that Paris was all but shut down by unions striking against the proposed rise of retirement age from — get this — 60 to 62.   Flights were disrupted and even the Eiffel Tower was closed to tourists.  A few weeks ago, when the movement (if one can call it that) for status quo was just heating up, I heard a couple who had just turned 60, offer an argument you won’t hear on this side of the Atlantic so much these days, that they some how deserve to retire.  They felt they had paid into the pension funds and were fortunate that their pensions would not be threatened by the new law, if indeed it is passed.  In the background, one could hear the voices of their grandchildren for whom they offer care one afternoon a week because they enjoy it.

Contrast this to the desire of most Americans — I’m one of them –to continue to work and not only out of financial necessity, although that is certainly a factor given the sorry rate of saving and investments of many older adults.  The new MetLife Mature Market Institute Study finds “startling” the news that many Early Boomers plan to remain in the labor market.  But if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that we believe that money is not the only driver for the choice to continue to work.  We happen to think we will remain healthier for it — that alone is a good way to give back.  And unlike our French cohorts, we take a certain pride in continuing to contribute actively to society and to the well-being of future generations, including our own grandchildren, if we have them.   I admire many things about French culture — the food, the art, the joie de vivre, and the fact that the welfare of children is a national priority.  How they will reconcile childcare costs with an aging population that wants to be supported for 25 or more years is the question.  Send in the grownups.

Generational Warfare

No One Will Hire Me …

(…I’m too old.)  Of all the self-defeating statements we hear from people 60 and older who are in need of a job, this has to be the most common and saddest.  No doubt, this belief is based on personal experience with ageism, losing out to a younger competitor, for example.  Or simply finding that the strategies that worked before — a dynamite resume, power networking  — aren’t producing the desired result, especially in the current economic climate.   Ageism isn’t going to disappear, and we might do well to take the advice of employment counselors, weary of the complaint: “Get over it!”

Here, according to a new study from MetLife Mature Market Institute are seven common mistakes older job seekers must correct if they are to be successful in finding work.

• “I’ll just do what I was doing before.”
• “My experience speaks for itself.”
• “I don’t have time for this touchy-feely stuff about what work means to me.”
• “I know! I’ll become a consultant!”
• “Of course I’m good with computers.”
• “I’ll just use a recruiter for some career coaching.”
• “I’ve always been successful, so why should things be different now?”

If you are looking for work and any of these misconceptions ring a bell with you, take the time to download and read Buddy, Can You Spare a Job?  The MetLife Study of the New Realities of the Job Market for Aging Baby Boomers (October ’09).  It just might turn your head around.  As the study says, “Wishful thinking is not a job search method.”  Resilience, a willingness to relocate, and the motivation to learn new skills are absolute musts if you are seeking a job at 60 or older.  Or at any age, for that matter.

50+? The Peace Corps Wants You

“Do people tell you you`re over the hill? … What if you were?  Over the hill, over a stream and over an ocean.  To another continent.  Thousands of miles from your own. Where elders are looked to as leaders …”

If you’re over 50 and have ever been attracted to becoming a Peace Corps volunteer, this advertising message should alert you to the fact that the Peace Corps is recruiting older adults, for their maturity, life and business experience, and transferable skills.  Of the approximately 7,800 volunteers around the world, people 50 and older make up 5%, or fewer than 400.  Host nations are asking for volunteers who can offer real-world experience in technical fields, business development, agribusiness or teaching, rather than young adults right out of college, says Rosie Mauk, the Peace Corps’ associate director of volunteer recruitment and selection.  Applications among older Americans, many of whom have lost jobs in last year’s economic downturn, are on the rise.

2young2retire facilitator and Peace Corps volunteer, Patrice Koerper, who recently returned from an assignment in Macedonia, describes it as the “most amazing, rewarding adventure of my life,”  and the Peace Corps itself as the best organization she has ever been associated with.  A seasoned public relations professional with a “great job,” Patrice was looking for a change of direction.  She had three personal goals for her next endeavor:  first, she wanted “to see the faces of the people I was helping”; second, she wanted to get to know more people; and third, she wanted to live in Eastern Europe from where her family immigrated generations ago.  Service with the Peace Corps in Macedonia met all three.

In 2006, while exploring new possibilities for work and life, she took the training to become a certified 2young2retire facilitator.  She also found herself drawn to the Peace Corps and decided to apply.  After a six-month application process which she found both “laborious and scary,” she felt the Peace Corps knew more about her than anyone.  If you’re an older volunteer, you should expect that because there is so much more to know.

Based on an assessment of your skills and experience, the Peace Corps decides what kind of work you will take on.   Once you have accepted an assignment – you are offered up to three locations – you receive language and other training to prepare you for life in your host country.  The mission of the Peace Corps is captured in these three goals:

  1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

The Three Goals, plus the commitment to a 27-month duration of service, tend to screen out all but the most serious applicants.  Peace Corps volunteer are supplied with a round trip ticket, housing allowance and a stipend to cover food, transportation and incidentals.  For Patrice this came to $220 a month, or roughly equivalent to 250 Euros, an average salary in Macedonia.  The point is, volunteers must live like the locals.  She received full medical coverage during her service and affordable health insurance for up to 18 months following service.   Older volunteers who draw Social Security and/or other pension benefits, may accumulate significant savings while they are away from home.  All returning Peace Corps volunteers are awarded just over $6,000 toward a smooth transition to life back home, and Patrice notes, they are eligible for Response Corps, short-term, high-impact assignments that typically range from three months to a year, at the request of a country.

Eager to begin her new assignment, Patrice arrived in Macedonia and spent the first six months “doing nothing.  Patience is the Number One way to survive,” she notes.  Macedonia, which became independent from Yugoslavia in 1991, is in the process of reinventing itself and its economy.  She was assigned to work with a government agency and eventually found herself doing workshops on change.  At first, people tended to view volunteers with suspicion, perhaps because there has been no formal tradition of volunteering.  She grew comfortable with the experience of “living minute to minute.” The last seven months of her service in Macedonia proved to be the most fruitful and rewarding.   “I realized I was in the business of building hope and trust,” Patrice says.  She kept the motto of Macedonian native, Mother Theresa, in mind: “Do small things with great love.”

Here are links about the Peace Corps, including recent budgetary debate and how to go about applying:

Recruiting the 50+
Budget Debates, Future Prospects
From Job Loss to Peace Corps
About Peace Corps
Forum for Volunteers
How to Apply


Prune That Resume!

One of advantages of being an older worker (lots of experience), can also play havoc with a resume, especially in a field that typically skews to younger people.  The good news: recruiters tend to prefer older workers over younger for their stability (average length of stay for younger worker is 26 months).  Here are a few tips from an IT specialist on how to create a resume that brings out your best for the job you’re after in any field.  

  • Prune that resume down to the essentials!  If you’re 50 or better, it probably reads more like a book than a document designed to get you that interview.  You’re likely competing with younger folks, so let the points be crisp and compelling.      
  •  Focus on 3-4 core skills that are directly relevant to the job you’re seeking.  Think of your resume as a work in progress and be prepared to customize it quickly.  Obvious point: check grammar and proof for typos every time you change and reprint it.
  • Skip any certifications, expertise or accomplishments that ‘date’ you.  After you get a feel for the work at hand, you can always bring them up during the interview. 
  • Smartest tip we’ve seen anywhere: ask people in the field you’re interested in to critique your resume.  They’re much more likely to see the red flags that could mean your resume winds up in the trash.   
  • Be confident.  The workplace is changing in your favor.  According to AARP, by 2012 almost 20 percent of the U.S. work force will be 44 or over. Americans are predicted to work longer than ever before. There were 5.5 million people 65 and older in the labor force in 2006, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, a number which is projected to reach 10.1 million by 2016.
Read more:

http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/tech-manager/?p=515

http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Careers/Tips-for-Older-IT-Job-Seekers/