Senior job searchers have their work cut outSep 01, 2018 02:33AM ● By Kathy Applebee
The Job Searching after 50 Networking Group meets from 8:30-10 a.m.the first and third Thursday of the month and the Mesa County WorkforceCenter.
No, this isn’t some kind of strange new math. It’s a sobering statistic of how many weeks, on average, it takes job seekers age 55 or older to find work. That’s more than five months longer than the average younger worker remains unemployed, and almost five months longer than it was in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Mesa County Workforce Center (MCWC) is trying to reverse those numbers. In 2017, after its staff noticed most clients were older adults, they launched the Job Searching after 50 Networking Group, which meets 8:30-10 a.m. the first and third Thursdays of the month.
MCWC Job Profiler Michael Smith said networking was the number one way to find a job in 2017.
“Participating gets you out of the house [and] helps with a positive attitude,” he said.
Smith encourages everyone looking for work—even simply considering it—to do so right away.
“The unemployment rate is low in Mesa County, a reverse from last year,” he said. “Now is the time to apply.”
Help for the modern job searchNetworking group participants learn about the skills they need to compete in today’s market, including how a professional online presence can accelerate career opportunities and can prevent applicants from being filtered out of a company’s system before they even reach the interview stage. Meetings include peer critiques of resumes, tips from human resource professionals and practice interviews.
Serious seekers are encouraged to attend MWC’s free workshops, which are designed to give job seekers the strategies needed to conduct a successful job search, create a professional resume and master the job interview. Other workshops cover the process of joining LinkedIn, a social network for professionals.
Prisca Searcy lost a career position with Kmart when the Grand Junction store closed in April 2017. As she sought other employment, she found the job search challenging.
“It’s way different than before,” she said. “Online applications take a couple of hours to complete. One of them had five pages of different scenarios you might encounter. You had to say what you’d do, but could only pick one of their five, set answers.”
Job searching always seems to take a long time, and more so for seniors. But it’s important not to get frustrated and give up.
After attending a hiring event at the Workforce Center, Searcy found a full-time job with benefits. The pay is just a few cents lower than what she was making after a lifetime career in retail.
“I am thankful for the Workforce Center for all the help and job fairs they have,” said Searcy. “It’s great to beat the odds and have a job.”
The Mesa County Workforce Center is open from 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Drop-ins are welcome. All services are available free of charge to Mesa County residents.
Seekers bewareWebsites such as www.Indeed.com and www.Monster.com list available jobs. Job hunters can also upload their resumes so employers can find them. But beware—these sites are another place for scammers targeting job seekers.
“Scam jobs are out there,” said Pam Hurd.
Hurd was a victim of one of these scams. She wanted to earn some extra cash, so when she was contacted by First Shipped, a company looking for someone who could work from home, she checked it out. They offered her a part-time job paying $2,400 per month.
“I thought I had done due diligence,” she said. “The company had a physical location, tax ID number and website.”
First Shipped also checked out with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Hurd worked for a month, but when it came time to be paid, she found herself locked out of her account and unable to contact her manager, who had been accessible up to that point.
“The BBB and FTC have walked me through what I need to do next,” Hurd said.
She advises seniors to be “ultra-careful” before investing time or money into a remote job. Searcy recommends being very careful with online applications, as well.
“I thought I was on the Burger King application website but these offers to get your credit report score started popping up,” she says. “I realized then it was a fake site, but I had already typed in my social security number.”
Strategies for job seekers
Assess your skills and strengthsMake a list of your job-related skills, as well as your personal strengths. If your industry has disappeared or you have been out of the workforce for a while, this will help you see what might be transferable to another line of work.
Update your cover letter and resumeWork with a career counselor to create a resume that effectively highlights the skills and background you have to offer. A career professional can help you uncover skills and experiences that you may not have considered.
Create a LinkedIn accountLinked In is a professional version of Facebook. Through this free service, you can include a professional-looking photo and upload your resume and portfolio. You can join professional groups in your industry, and search for jobs.
Clean up your social mediaEmployers use Facebook to screen applicants for positions. If you’ve posted photos or opinions that may make you appear unprofessional, you may want to clean up your profile before applying.
NetworkOver 50 percent of jobs are never advertised, which is why it’s important to let people know you’re job hunting. Begin with people you know who have jobs in the industry in which you are looking. Attend community presentations or conferences that will have individuals in your industry in attendance.
Use local resourcesThe Mesa County Workforce Center, Mesa County Library and Western Colorado Community College offer workshops, classes and individual assistance to older job seekers. The Workforce Center facilitates on-the-job-training and funding for updating skills for qualified individuals.
Attend job fairsJob fairs provide another great opportunity for networking and job searching. Dress up, take copies of your updated resume, and meet employers. It’s helpful to prepare an elevator pitch to help relay your qualifications to a potential employer.
Search for jobsMost jobs are posted electronically. Register with Connecting Colorado through the Mesa County Workforce Center. If you’re interested in a particular company, you can search for employment on the company website. Jobs are posted in classifieds sections, and the Sunday edition of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel has a special jobs section.
Use temp agenciesEmployment agencies are looking for workers with a variety of skills. They often need someone to fill a temporary position that resulted from an employee illness or emergency. Sometimes, temporary employment can lead to a permanent job. Employers get to know your work, and if the regular employee is unable to return, the job may be yours.
Volunteer into a career
Individuals can gain valuable skills by volunteering with an organization or company. It’s an opportunity to network with supervisors that may be helpful in landing you a job with a similar organization. If you’re lucky, an opening may occur. In addition, community service looks great on your resume.
Prepare to persevere
Searching for a job is a full-time job. Make sure to document where you’ve applied, contact information and dates. If you’re not receiving any response, your resume and cover letter may need some work. If you are called for interviews, but don’t get the job, you may need to practice your interviewing skills. Seek the help of a career professional to help troubleshoot your process and help find a resolution.
To learn more about career coaching, contact Diana Barnett at 245-5132 or www.redrockscareercoaching.wordpress.com.