Question: When will I know it’s time to stop looking for a job and accept retirement? After completing two master’s degrees and certificates to practice a career – and years wondering what to do when I grow up – I am sitting here about to turn 60. Did I miss something? When was I supposed to be working? I finished school six months ago and cannot find a job. So am I semiretired? Why did I go to school if I cannot share what I have learned? 

Answer: Your dilemma is palpable. Statistically, there has been a small improvement in employment for the 55-plus population. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the January unemployment rate for the 55-plus group dropped from 7.6 percent to 6.8 percent.

That still adds up to 2 million unemployed in that age group. But let’s give credit where credit is due.

Baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are considered more persistent in their job hunt than any other group, particularly during hard times. They are less likely to grow discouraged and less likely to quit looking compared to younger job seekers.

Lack of jobs is one factor. The other is age discrimination, which is alive and well. Older workers often are perceived as less productive, overly cautious and less willing to learn compared to younger workers.

Some of these myths were dispelled in a recent study by Gary Charness, economics professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his colleague. They found older adults competed well on tasks of risk-taking, competitiveness and cooperation. Their study “pitted” seniors (over 50) against juniors (under 30) on decision-making tasks. (Note: The idea of pitting generations against each other can fuel alleged generational warfare.)

The seniors came out very well. They invested slightly more than juniors in an investing game, were more cooperative, contributed more to the group, outperformed juniors on a competitive word game, and were only “very slightly less” competitive overall. The study also found that groups with mixed ages outperformed groups of the same age.

But landing a job requires more than knowledge of trends and research studies. Executive coach Maureen Moriarty outlined “Tips for Boomers Seeking Work” in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Make a good first impression on a prospective employer, since you only get one chance. Look stylish and professional. Women should avoid clunky jewelry, strong perfume and clothing that screams, “Look at me.”

Discuss recent examples of your willingness to learn new skills. Communicate your interest in learning new technologies and ways to work smarter.

Prove you are tech-savvy. Be able to submit a resume online. Never say, “I don’t have a cell phone or e-mail address.”

Demonstrate passion. Don’t give off body language that indicates fatigue or depression. Avoid discussing your grandchildren and instead describe a feat such as climbing a mountain, as long as it’s true.

Provide evidence that you can adapt and are flexible. Avoid presenting yourself as condescending, rigid or stern. And don’t show annoyance that your interviewer is the age of your youngest child.

Don’t give away age clues. It is illegal for employers to ask your age, but they can find out in other ways. Avoid listing every job you’ve had since 1965. Focus on your professional accomplishments relevant to the open position.

(A side comment: How unfortunate that we cannot mention our fabulous grandchildren or identify our age and still be competitive in the job market. Perhaps after one is hired.)

Be prepared for standard questions:

  • “What are your career goals?” The interviewer may actually be asking, “How soon will you retire?” Be certain to relay your passion for work you enjoy.
  • “What salary do you require?” Don’t begin with your previous top salary. Do your homework to find out the appropriate salary for the job you are seeking.
  • “Don’t you think you are overqualified?” Sometimes that’s a code word for being “too old.” Let the interviewer know your sincere interest in the position and that your priority is not salary and titles.

Finally, consider hiring a professional to assist you in reinventing yourself.

Thank you for your good question. How long you continue to look for your career position is difficult to determine. Given your educational investment, consider hanging in a little longer.
Network, volunteer and consider variations on your primary career.

Best wishes for success.

Copyright 2010 Helen Dennis. All rights reserved.

Question: When will I know it’s time to stop looking for a job and accept retirement? After completing two master’s degrees and certificates to practice a career – and years wondering what to do when I grow up – I am sitting here about to turn 60. Did I miss something? When was I supposed to be working? I finished school six months ago and cannot find a job. So am I semiretired? Why did I go to school if I cannot share what I have learned? 

Answer: Your dilemma is palpable. Statistically, there has been a small improvement in employment for the 55-plus population. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the January unemployment rate for the 55-plus group dropped from 7.6 percent to 6.8 percent.

That still adds up to 2 million unemployed in that age group. But let’s give credit where credit is due.

Baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are considered more persistent in their job hunt than any other group, particularly during hard times. They are less likely to grow discouraged and less likely to quit looking compared to younger job seekers.

Lack of jobs is one factor. The other is age discrimination, which is alive and well. Older workers often are perceived as less productive, overly cautious and less willing to learn compared to younger workers.

Some of these myths were dispelled in a recent study by Gary Charness, economics professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his colleague. They found older adults competed well on tasks of risk-taking, competitiveness and cooperation. Their study “pitted” seniors (over 50) against juniors (under 30) on decision-making tasks. (Note: The idea of pitting generations against each other can fuel alleged generational warfare.)

The seniors came out very well. They invested slightly more than juniors in an investing game, were more cooperative, contributed more to the group, outperformed juniors on a competitive word game, and were only “very slightly less” competitive overall. The study also found that groups with mixed ages outperformed groups of the same age.

But landing a job requires more than knowledge of trends and research studies. Executive coach Maureen Moriarty outlined “Tips for Boomers Seeking Work” in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Make a good first impression on a prospective employer, since you only get one chance. Look stylish and professional. Women should avoid clunky jewelry, strong perfume and clothing that screams, “Look at me.”

Discuss recent examples of your willingness to learn new skills. Communicate your interest in learning new technologies and ways to work smarter.

Prove you are tech-savvy. Be able to submit a resume online. Never say, “I don’t have a cell phone or e-mail address.”

Demonstrate passion. Don’t give off body language that indicates fatigue or depression. Avoid discussing your grandchildren and instead describe a feat such as climbing a mountain, as long as it’s true.

Provide evidence that you can adapt and are flexible. Avoid presenting yourself as condescending, rigid or stern. And don’t show annoyance that your interviewer is the age of your youngest child.

Don’t give away age clues. It is illegal for employers to ask your age, but they can find out in other ways. Avoid listing every job you’ve had since 1965. Focus on your professional accomplishments relevant to the open position.

(A side comment: How unfortunate that we cannot mention our fabulous grandchildren or identify our age and still be competitive in the job market. Perhaps after one is hired.)

Be prepared for standard questions:

  • “What are your career goals?” The interviewer may actually be asking, “How soon will you retire?” Be certain to relay your passion for work you enjoy.
  • “What salary do you require?” Don’t begin with your previous top salary. Do your homework to find out the appropriate salary for the job you are seeking.
  • “Don’t you think you are overqualified?” Sometimes that’s a code word for being “too old.” Let the interviewer know your sincere interest in the position and that your priority is not salary and titles.

Finally, consider hiring a professional to assist you in reinventing yourself.

Thank you for your good question. How long you continue to look for your career position is difficult to determine. Given your educational investment, consider hanging in a little longer.
Network, volunteer and consider variations on your primary career.

Best wishes for success.

Copyright 2010 Helen Dennis. All rights reserved.