Finding a new job in your 50s or 60s can be particularly difficult. For “mature” workers, it may require some extra skills to be competitive with younger applicants. Here with some “Ask the Experts” advice is Terri Carpenter, a longtime career and job search expert with the Sacramento Employee and Training Agency.
Q: I am 60 and desperate to find a full-time career after being displaced several years ago. I’m currently working two part-time jobs. A career college in Rancho Cordova offers “optical assistant” training courses. Would this be a wise career path? Or could you offer an alternate suggestion? I have management and sales skills and am quite comfortable with various software apps.
A: No matter how old you are, looking for a job is not easy. It might take longer than you expect to find a job, but there are employers who understand the value of an older worker with maturity, experience and skills. Here are some basics you should consider:
Age-Proof Your Resume: Limiting what you include on your resume, with respect to the chronological listing of your work history, can help avoid the perception of being “too old” by a prospective employer. When writing your resume, there is no need to list every job you’ve had. Include only the most recent positions; if you have 30 years of experience, for instance, only list the last 10 years of your employment history. If you graduated from college, don’t list the year.
Emphasize your relevant experience: Always edit your resume to reflect the skills and abilities required for the job for which you are applying.
Keep Your Skills Current. Regardless of your age, you need to be computer literate. If you can’t send an email or don’t know what an “Instant Message” is, take a computer class. It is important for older workers to have a strong set of computer skills to compete in today’s job market. Almost all jobs require some basic understanding of computer hardware and software, especially word processing, spreadsheets and email.
Honestly, I don’t think that the Optical Assistant training program will offer the results you are seeking in a full-time career. According to forecast data provided on CareerGPS.com, there will only be six new jobs a year for optical assistants in the Sacramento region through 2018.
Currently, one of the best sectors for employment growth is in administrative and support services, which includes office jobs such as clerks, administrative assistants, customer service representatives and bookkeepers.
With a background in management and sales, you should consider employment in the administrative services sector, especially since you are comfortable with software applications. You may not need to be fully retrained for jobs as an office technician or accounts receivable clerk, but may only need a few short-term courses in computers or bookkeeping.
Visit your local One Stop Career Center to see if you qualify for a training grant to assist with programs or courses you decide to pursue. For more information, visit www.servicelocator.org or call (916) 263-3800.
Here are some additional resources:
CareerGPS - Provides detailed information about high-demand jobs in the Sacramento region, including how much they pay, what type of education or training is recommended and where you can obtain it. The site’s “Interest Profiler” helps identify your work-related interests and the kind of jobs/careers to explore. www.CareerGPS.com
Area 4 Agency on Aging Senior Employment Program - Offers free job search assistance for seniors 55 years of age and older in Placer and Sacramento counties. For information, call (916) 486-1876 or visit www.a4aa.com
Senior Job Bank - A database of employers interested in attracting talented, dedicated people over age 50. www.seniorjobbank.org
Retirement Jobs - Jobs and resources for individuals ages 50 and older. www.retirementjobs.com